The Anti-Inflammatory Impact On Fig Consumption

  • Shazia AsimPhD Scholar (Pharmacology), University of Health Sciences Lahore, Pakistan
  • Saira LoaneMaster's of Toxicology, Institute of Biomedical Research, University of Birmingham
  • Regina LopesSenior Nursing Assistant, Health and Social Care, The Open University

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The fig is a large, deciduous shrub or small tree native to southwestern Asia and the eastern Mediterranean region (Cyprus, Turkey, and the countries of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt). “Ficus Carica” is the scientific name of fig. This plant is widely cultivated for edible fruit, in the Mediterranean and other regions of the world with similar climates. The figs are “fruits without a flower”.

However, these produce hundreds of tiny edible flowers that grow and bloom on the inside of the fruit. Their skins, which range from green to black-violet are also edible and their small seeds provide an enjoyable crunch.1

Medicinal importance of figs

There are numerous varieties of figs. These varieties vary in colour and texture. Several scientific studies have shown that the consumption of figs is linked to several positive health outcomes, including inflammation reduction, less painful periods, healthy weight management, and many others. Not only this but there are strong pieces of evidence that the phytochemicals and bioactive compounds present in figs help in diabetes, cardiovascular function, and obesity, enhance cognitive behaviour, and improve gut health.2,3

The reason for this wide array of health benefits is attributed to a rich source of various micro and macronutrients including carbohydrates, vitamins, organic acids, dietary fibre, and minerals (like magnesium, potassium, calcium, etc) which are abundantly present in figs. 

What is inflammation?

Inflammation plays an important role in our body’s defence mechanism. It is through inflammation that the immune system recognizes and removes harmful and foreign stimuli and begins the healing process.4 Our immune system controls inflammation to protect us from health threats and promote healing, and this process is constant throughout our lives.

Inflammation can be acute or chronic.

Acute inflammation

This is a quick response of our body due to certain stimuli such as tissue damage due to trauma, infection, or noxious compounds (sugar, saturated fats, gluten, casein MSG, etc.) that can induce acute inflammation. Acute inflammation starts rapidly and becomes severe in a short time. Its symptoms may last for a few days for example cellulitis or acute pneumonia. Its signs and symptoms include redness, swelling warmth, and tenderness at the site of inflammation.

Chronic inflammation

Chronic inflammation is a long-term condition; that may last for months to years. It is also referred to as slow inflammation. It is characterised by pain and body aches, fever, fatigue, rashes, mouth sores, frequent infections, gastrointestinal disorders like constipation, diarrhoea. Several conditions are associated with chronic inflammation. Following are a few examples:5

Bioactive compounds included in figs

Figs are a rich source of bioactive compounds, with diverse health benefits. There are multiple of these compounds that offer anti-inflammatory benefits. The following table shows various compounds that offer potential anti-inflammatory effects with the most probable mechanism of action:

Bioactive CompoundProbable Mechanism of Anti-Inflammatory Effect
QuercetinInhibition of inflammatory mediators, modulation of signalling pathways
LuteolinInhibition of pro-inflammatory cytokines, interference with signalling pathways
Chlorogenic AcidInhibition of NF-kB activation, regulation of inflammatory response
ApigeninSuppression of prostaglandins and leukotrienes, inhibition of inflammatory enzymes
IsoflavonesModulation of immune responses, inhibition of NF-kB and MAPK pathways
RutinReduction of inflammatory cytokines, and inhibition of inflammatory enzymes
Omega-3 Fatty AcidsInfluence on pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory mediator production
TanninsInhibition of COX and LOX enzymes, modulation of inflammatory mediator synthesis
Made by Shazia Asim (PowerPoint)

How do components of figs give relief in chronic inflammation?

At the micro-level, chronic inflammation involves a series of complex cellular and molecular changes. The amazingly healing bioactive compounds in figs help relieve the pain and symptoms of chronic inflammation by altering these steps. Let’s see what happens at the micro level.

Cellular infiltration

As a result of ongoing inflammation the cells that belong to the immune system (macrophages, neutrophils, and lymphocytes) infiltrate the damaged tissue. Active ingredients in fig dilate the blood vessels and help relieve this cellular inflammation.6

Oxidative stress

One of the major contributing factors in the development and worsening of inflammation is Reactive oxygen species (ROS). Oxidative stress can damage cells and tissues, further contributing to inflammation. The presence of antioxidants in fig extracts proposes potential protective effects against oxidative stress-related inflammatory conditions.7


The process of inflammation progresses due to the formation of new blood vessels. This phenomenon is called angiogenesis, responsible for supplying oxygen and nutrients to inflamed tissue. by local inhibition of prostaglandins, and VEGF (vascular epidermal growth factor), bioactive ingredients in fig attempt to bring in more healing from inflammation.6

Release of mediators of inflammation

Probably the most important role of figs' active ingredients is to interfere with the release and availability of these mediators of inflammation. This is through Tannins, which may exert anti-inflammatory effects by inhibiting enzymes involved in inflammation, such as cyclooxygenase (COX) and lipoxygenase (LOX).6

Tissue remodelling

Chronic inflammation can lead to continuous tissue damage. Figs ingredients by controlling activities of fibroblast and other cells involved in tissue remodelling exert an anti-inflammatory effect.6

Hence several scientific researchers have highlighted that figs or Ficus Carica extract has potent anti-inflammatory activities at the level of cell migration, exudate volume, tissue weight, and angiogenesis as well as in the content of proinflammatory mediators such as PGE2, TNFα, and VEGF levels.

Made by Shazia Asim (PowerPoint)

Incorporating figs into the diet

According to BBC Good Food Channel,8

An 80g serving of fresh figs provides:

  • 34 kcal/148KJ
  • 1.0g protein
  • 0.2g fat
  • 7.6g carbohydrate
  • 1.6g fibre
  • 160mg potassium
  • 12mg magnesium
  • 30mg calcium
  • 120mcg carotene

Consuming just a few figs (2 to 3) a day can significantly contribute to our health including digestive health, heart function, and even weight management. 


Packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and dietary fibre figs offer you a delicious and nutritious way to promote your overall well-being. Consuming just a few figs (2 to 3) a day can considerably contribute to digestive health, heart function, and even weight management. But amongst all the health benefits, a feature that makes figs particularly remarkable is their potent anti-inflammatory properties.

These properties are due to compounds like tannins, quercetin, and beta-carotene. By regularly including figs in your diet, you're not only treating your taste buds to a sweet and satisfying experience but also nurturing your body with a powerful battery against inflammation, promoting a healthier and more energetic life. 


  1. Sandhu AK, Islam M, Edirisinghe I, Burton-Freeman B. Phytochemical composition and health benefits of figs (Fresh and dried): a review of literature from 2000 to 2022. Nutrients [Internet]. 2023 June 3 [cited 2024 Jan 9];15(11):2623. Available from:
  2. Sullivan VK, Petersen KS, Kris-Etherton PM. Dried fruit consumption and cardiometabolic health: a randomised crossover trial. Br J Nutr [Internet]. 2020 Nov 14 [cited 2024 Jan 9];124(9):912–21. Available from:
  3. Alamgeer, Iman S, Asif H, Saleem M. Evaluation of antihypertensive potential of Ficus carica fruit. Pharm Biol [Internet]. 2017 Feb 10 [cited 2024 Jan 9];55(1):1047–53. Available from:
  4. Pahwa R, Goyal A, Jialal I. Chronic inflammation. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 [cited 2024 Jan 10]. Available from:
  5. Cleveland Clinic [Internet]. [cited 2024 Jan 10]. What is inflammation? Available from:
  6. Eteraf-Oskouei T, Allahyari S, Akbarzadeh-Atashkhosrow A, Delazar A, Pashaii M, Gan SH, et al. Methanolic extract of ficus carica linn. Leaves exert antiangiogenesis effects based on the rat air pouch model of inflammation. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine [Internet]. 2015 Apr 21 [cited 2024 Jan 11];2015:e760405. Available from:
  7. Kim J, Lee D. The natural ficus carica l. (Fig)Extract as an effective prophylactic antibacterial agent for inflammation-related infections. Life [Internet]. 2023 Dec [cited 2024 Jan 11];13(12):2356. Available from:
  8. Alsahli MA, Almatroudi A, Khan AA, Alhumaydhi FA, Alrumaihi F, Rahmani AH. Ficus carica (Fig) fruit extract attenuates ccl4-induced hepatic injury in mice: a histological and immunohistochemical study. International Journal of Pharmacology [Internet]. 2019 Mar 15 [cited 2024 Jan 11];15(3):370–6. Available from:
  9. BBC Good Food [Internet]. [cited 2024 Jan 11]. Top 5 health benefits of figs. Available from:

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Shazia Asim

PhD Scholar (Pharmacology), University of Health Sciences Lahore, Pakistan

I have extensive experience of teaching Pharmacology at an undergraduate medical institute in Lahore, Pakistan. I mentor my students by nurturing their curiosity and encouraging them to know this subject through interactive discussions. I also like to guide my students in research projects and learn pharmacology through real world application of pharmacological principles.

During my MPhil, my keen interest in research work on Aloe vera plant extract and its effect on urinary tract infection got me a gold medal. Currently, I am enrolled at the University of Health Sciences, Lahore as a Ph.D. scholar. Other than my profession and my research work, I get immense satisfaction in writing. I am an avid writer and contribute insightful articles to medical journals and mainstream newspapers, both local and international. I am a strong advocate of preventive health care and my mission is to empower individuals with knowledge that encourages them to take charge of their wellbeing.

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