With a history as ancient as any cultivated fruit, many believe the fig has been with us even longer than the pomegranate. The Ficus constitutes one of the largest and hardiest genera of flowering plants featuring as many as 750 species. Although the extraordinary mutualism between figs and their pollinating wasps has received much attention, the phylogeny of both partners is only beginning to be reconstructed. The fig plant does have a long history of traditional use as a medicine and has been a subject of significant modern research.
Figs, the Genus Ficus brings together those histories, ancient and modern, to present an extraordinary profile of an extraordinary plant with an abundance of medical uses and a reputation as both a delicacy and a diet staple in some regions of the world. Several chapters within the book are devoted to intensive study of different parts of the tree: fruits, leaves, bark and stem, roots, and latex. These chapters discuss the Ficus genus as a whole, including the botany of the most important species that have been related to that particular part pharmacologically.
The authors, Dr. Ephraim Lansky MD, highly respected as one of the world’s only physician pharmcognocists and Dr. Helena Paavilainen, a renowned researcher of natural products, go on to consider the chemistry and pharmacology of each part in selected Ficus species, and modern, medieval, and ancient methods for obtaining and preparing the beneficial components from that plant part for medicinal use. Special attention is paid to the plants' propensity for fighting inflammation, including cancer. Figs’ future potential is considered in a number of treatments, as are future areas of research.