The fig tree is special. It has been part of the human tale since Day One. Their leaves clothed Adam and Eve. their roots saved Romulus and Remus from drowning in the river Tiber. When Indonesia was created, two gods carved the first couple from their trunks. Much of the legend and myths that are entwined around the fig tree have a basis in biology. The fig tree brings gifts including medicine, materials, and tasty fruit. It’s not surprising that brands start to bring fig-infused skin care to the market. These skin care products are as versatile as it gets and promise to help skin concerns or skin types
- blemish prone
- ageing skin with wrinkles
The fig must have it. Even ancient civilisations recognised the healing powers of figs and it’s said that Mithridates, King of Pontus Greeks, mandated his people to eat one fig a day to keep diseases away.
The dark teardrop-shaped fig is roughly the size of a thumb. The peel is green and when ripe turn dark purplish blue or brown. It’s edible. The soft reddish sweet inside contains filled with hundreds of tiny and crunchy seeds.
The fig tree (Ficus carica) is part of the mulberry family (Moraceae). It’s native to southwest Asia and the eastern Mediterranean region. Now it’s cultivated throughout the world. Fresh figs season begins in late summer and lasts to early autumn in the Northern Hemisphere.
History of the fig
The fig is one of the earliest fruit trees to be cultivated and its fruits to be dried and stored. Figs have been found in Neolithic developments, dating back at least 11’000 years ago.
It’s said that the Greeks received the fig from Caria (enhance its name Ficus carica). It became a staple for the Greeks and they knew about 29 varieties. The Spartans used it at their parties. For the Roans, the fig was sent by Bacchus, god of wine, and held used in religious ceremonies.
Evidence shows that the fig also spread as far as China by the 15th century.
It seems figs are often associated with breads and jams or soft cookies your auntie brings along. But the fig has so much more to offer.
You can eat the fresh fruit when it’s in season. They pimp up salads and dessert. But it can be difficult to catch a fig at peak ripeness and then they only last 5 to 7 days when picked. It keeps up to two weeks when you keep it in the fridge.
The dried fig is almost a classic. It contains all the valuable nutrients, but because it’s dried it’s higher in sugar.
Although not widely available, fig leaves are yummy. The scent and aroma remind you of coconut. There are many different recipes but you can use them as a bio-friendly wrap for meals and they add a wonderful aroma to the meal. Some people dry the fig leaves to make a herbal infusion.
Some people use the milky sap of the fig plant to remove warts. Be cautious though, this sap can cause serious rashes when exposed to the sun.
The fig can trump up in its wide variety of nutrients. It’s a great source of copper and vitamin B6. As an essential micronutrient, your body can’t make it and you need to take copper in your diet. It’s involved in many body functions including metabolism and energy production, as well as the formation of blood cells and connective tissues. Your body needs vitamin B6 to break down fat, carbohydrates, and protein from your food and turn it into energy.
Other nutrients include
- vitamin B1 (thiamine)
- vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
- vitamin K
Fig also contains healthy phytochemicals (plant-based nutrients) called polyphenols and anthocyanins. It’s not only in recent yours that attention has been lavished on polyphenols because of their health promises such as being antioxidant or anti-inflammatory.
Why do brands add figs to their formulation
Brands are increasingly more interested in the phytochemicals polyphenols because they can alleviate dehydration, fight acne, neutralise free radicals, and provide anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing effects. It’s no wonder, brands turn to the fig as an excellent source of polyphenols and anthocyanins.
From the very first, the fig, especially the peel is an excellent source of anthocyanins. These are phytochemical that can help prevent cell damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that our bodies produce to fight off germs or are triggered by external factors like pollution, smoking, and of course UV radiation.
Anthocyanins act as antioxidants and scavenge free radicals and so prevent harm done to your skin and so delay things like wrinkles or age spots.
Remember that the fig is an excellent source of vitamin B6? Vitamin B6, as well as the other vitamin Bs, is an essential vitamin and your body can’t produce it. So you have to get them from your diet or supplements.
Containing vitamin B1 (thiamine), the fig helps to convert glucose into energy, aids in wound healing, and is also needed for proper nerve functions. Its moniker is “anti-stress vitamin” and from that, you can gather that it soothes the nervous system and so help prevent stress-related breakouts.
The vitamin B2 (riboflavin) present is important for cell turnover and collagen maintenance. This protein protects the structural integrity of your skin and is needed for wound healing. It also reduces inflammation and speeds up wound healing.
The vitamin B6 is a coenzyme and is needed in more than 100 enzymes involved in protein metabolism. In terms of skin care, it’s essential for skin development and maintenance.
Lift dark spots
Anthocyanins belong to the phytochemical group of flavonoids and it has really cool effects like being antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. They also can reduce the skin’s melanin pigment’s function as well as make pores less visible.
When applied to your skin, the fig-infused product can noticeably enhance your skin’s hydration levels by preventing water from evaporating from its uppermost layers (also called transepidermal water loss).
Thanks to the vitamins B2 and B6 present, the fig helps regulate your skin’s sebum production. Even better, since it improves your skin’s hydration, your skin doesn’t feel the need to compensate for dehydration and overproduces natural oils.
Fig-infused products can be used by all skin types, it’s just a matter of how the product is formulated: is it a heavy moisturiser, or perhaps is it a serum? Depending on your skin type or the season, you may prefer a lighter or more occlusive product.