Ficus spp. (fig): Ethnobotany and potential as anticancer and anti-inflammatory agents

Ephraim Philip Lansky, Helena M. Paavilainen, Alison D. Pawlus, Robert A. Newman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

184 Scopus citations


This review explores medieval, ancient and modern sources for ethnopharmacological uses of Ficus (fig) species, specifically for employment against malignant disease and inflammation. The close connection between inflammatory/infectious and cancerous diseases is apparent both from the medieval/ancient merging of these concepts and the modern pharmacological recognition of the initiating and promoting importance of inflammation for cancer growth. Also considered are chemical groups and compounds underlying the anticancer and anti-inflammatory actions, the relationship of fig wasps and fig botany, extraction and storage of fig latex, and traditional methods of preparing fig medicaments including fig lye, fig wine and medicinal poultices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-213
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Ethnopharmacology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 26 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank Dr. Shen Yu of Haifa, Israel for her assistance in researching and clarifying the role of figs in traditional Chinese Medicine. Margie Serling Cohn and the staff of the Technion Medical Library afforded substantial support in obtaining articles. The Sidney M. Edelstein Center for the History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Medicine, Jerusalem, Israel, and The Finnish Cultural Foundation and The Finnish Society for Letters and Science generously supported the ethnopharmacographic inquiries. Funding for this project was provided in part by The Beverage Institute for Health & Wellness. Zipora Lansky shot the photographs in Fig. 2 .


  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anticancer
  • Cancer
  • Ficus
  • Figs
  • Inflammation


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