The fig is the fruit of the fig tree (Ficus carica), a species of Ficus native to Syria, Afghanistan and the Mediterranean area, and it offers many benefits for health.
- Gardening: how to grow and care for a fig tree
Read on to discover the many benefits of fig for the body, as well as short tips on how to grow it and use it for cooking.
Health benefits of the fig
Known since Greek and Roman times, the fig was the most important fruit in the diet of ancient civilizations around the Mediterranean area, on par with dates, olives and grapes. Black, green or violet, figs offer a surprising diversity of vitamins and minerals and could contribute to preventing many diseases.
- With high levels of carbohydrates, fiber and protein, fig is very nourishing, easy to digest and laxative. It is recommended in case of occasional constipation, and to persons vulnerable to dyspepsia (who experience discomfort in the higher digestive tract). Juice is the most effective form in this case.
- Emollient and soothing, fig soothes cough and hoarse voice (especially in case of colds or bronchitis) as well as pertussis and pneumonia.
- Gargling fig decoction (3.5 oz (100 g) dried fig for 1 quart (1 liter) water) has shown itself to be very effective against inflammations and abscessed teeth. You can even apply half a warmed fig as a type of poultice between cheek and gum to alleviate pain.
- The milky sap that a fig tree secretes contains a very effective enzyme against corns and warts. Cut fig tree leaves and apply the white sap twice a day on warts and corns to help them disappear.
Fig poultice for boils and pain
Fig poultice – boiled in water or milk, figs make for perfect poultices to help abscesses and boils mature.
- Boil the whole fig for at most 5 minutes, just enough to make sure heat reaches the center.
- Slice the fig in half and wrap it in gauze or cloth, one or two layers is enough. This helps contain juices.
- Apply the poultice to the boil or part of the body that needs relief when it isn’t painfully hot anymore.
- Change after 4-6 hours (thrice a day). Treat in this manner at most three days, then give the area a rest for a few days before resuming.
Such a poultice is most effective with fresh figs, but dried figs are excellent, too. When trying to soothe pain in your mouth, don’t wrap the fig poultice in cloth, use it directly.
Growing fig for its benefits
- The fig tree loves full sun and needs to be protected in regions further north. It is adapted to most types of soil, even chalky ones, as long as not too compact, and well drained.
- Rather hardy, the fig tree copes well with drought but it becomes vulnerable in soil that is too moist and cold (it needs at least 50°F (10°C)).
- Feel free to grow the fig tree in a pot. It can survive there without any problems during five or six years.
- Watch out for scale insects and fly larvae that destroy figs when they have matured.
- Gardening: How to grow fig trees
Cooking with fig for its health benefits
- Its nutritional content is different depending on whether it is eaten fresh or dried: fresh fig provides 65 kcal / 3.5 oz (100 g) whereas dried fig provides 300 kcal / 3.5 oz (100 g).
- Fig has been shown to be fiber-rich and have high potassium and mineral levels. Another positive characteristic: it is very digestible.
CC BY 2.0: Paul Simpson
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