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Ficus benjamina Linn.

Synonyms

Ficus comosa Roxb, Ficus cotonaeifolia Vahl, Ficus pendula Link, Ficus neglecta Decne, Urostigma benjamina Miq., Urostigma haemotocarpum et. U. nudum Miq. [4]

Vernacular Names:

Malaysia Beringin, Weringing, Jawi-jawi, Jejawi, Kelat sega
English Java Fig, Benjamin Tree, Weeping Fig, Laurel, Tropic Laurel, Weeping Laurel, Small-leaves Rubber Plant, Malayan Banyan
China Chui Ye Rong
Indonesia Waringin (Java); Caringin (Sunda)
India Malai Ichi, Pon Ichi, Putrajuvi (Tamil); Pimpri (Folk); Sunonija (Hindi); Juripakri (Assam)
Nepal Kabra
German  Birkenfeige
French  Figuier des Indes. [1] [2] [3] [4]

General Information

Description

Ficus benjamina is a member of the Moraceae family. It is a medium sized tree reaching up to 20m tall. The bark is gray to gray white. The main branches produces aerial roots which can develop into a new trunk with branchlets that are pendulous and glabrous. The stipules are caduceus, lanceolate, 0.6-1.5cm, membranous and glabrous. The petiole measures 1-2cm long, adaxially sulcate. The leaf blade is ovate to broadly ellip[tic, measuring between 4-8cm by 2-4cm, leathery, and glabrous. The base is rounded to cuneate, the margins entire and the apex is shortly acuminate. There are 8-10 secondary veins running parallel and anastomosing near the margin and indistinct from tertiary veins. The figs appear axillary on leafy branchlets, in pairs or solitary, purple, red or yellow when mature. They are globose to depressed globose or sometime pear shaped and measures 0.8-2cm in diameter.The male, gall and female flowers are enclosed within the same fig. The male flowers are few, shortly pedicellate; calyx lobes 4, broadly ovate; single stamen with rather long filament. The gall flowers are numerous with calyx lobes 4, narrowly spatulate; style lateral and short. The female flowers are sessile, calyx lobes 3, shortly spatulate; style lateral, short; stigma enlarged. The achenes ovoid-reniform, shorter than persistent style. [3]

Plant Part Used

Bark, bud, flower and fruit. [5]

Chemical Constituents

Alpha-amyrin; beta-sitosterol; bergapten; chlorogenic acid; friedelin; imperatorin; kaempferol; kaempferol 3-O-robinobioside; kaempferol 3-O-rutinoside; pentacontanyl decanoate; quercetin 3-O-rutinoside; serrat-3-one. [2] [6] [7] [10]

Traditional Used:

Gastrointestinal Diseases

The buds and latex of F. benjamina is used in the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery while the aerial roots is good for vomiting. Juice expressed from the bark is a good remedy for liver disease. [5] [11] 

Inflammatory Diseases

The leaves had been used to treat ulcers, leprosy and rheumatic headaches. To treat ulcers and wounds the leaves and or the roots are boiled in oil and applied over the lesion. [2] [5] [11]

Other Diseases

The latex and the bark had been advocated for use as a remedy for diabetes, skin diseases and burning sensation. The aerial roots treats osteomalacia and leucorrhoea. [5]

Pre-Clinical Data

Pharmacology

Antimicrobial activitiy

A screening for bioactivity of fruits of four Ficus species (F.syncomorus, F. benjamina, F. benghalensis and F. religiosa), it was found that they had significant antibacterial activity, but no antifungal activity. [8]

The antiviral activity of crude extracts of F. benjamina leaves was reported especially against Herpes Simplex Virus 1 and 2 (HSV 1/2), and Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV). This activity was seen more in the flavonoid fraction of the ethanol extract. Three of flavones identified (quercetin 3-O-rutinoside, kaempferol 3-O-rutinoside and kaempferol 3-O-robinoside) showed strong inhibitory activity against the two HSV viruses but no significant activity against VZV. [9] 

The crude extract and its ethyl acetate fraction of the leaves of F. benjamina displayed the highest inhibitory activity against Mycobacterium smegmatis. It showed that the phenolic content of the leaves may be responsible for this activity. [10]

Allergenic activity

There have been several reported allergic reactions to latex or components of latex amongst plant keepers throughout Europe. The manifestations vary from simple skin irritation to angioedema of the oropharynx. It is noted that there is a cross-reactivity between F. benjamina and the latex of Haevia brasiliensis. Eleven allergenic compounds identified in latex of F. benjamina of these 3 were found to be major allergenic components with molecular weights of approximately 29,000, 28,000 and 25,000 Daltons and they are denatured by heat. Amongst the manifestations of allergy includes rhinoconjunctivitis, asthma, urticarial eruptions and oedema of the eyelids following sensitization to F. benjamina. [12-26]

Toxicities

In a screening for bioactivity, it was found that fruit extract of F. benjamina did not have toxic activity in the brine shrimp test. [8]

Teratogenic effects

No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No documentation

Adverse Effects in Human:

There have been many reports of allergic reaction to allergens produced by F. benjamina. This seem to be more common amongst the Caucasian population as compared to inhabitants of areas where the plant is endemic. The most common manifestation is rhino-conjunctivitis followed by contact dermatitis. There had been reported cases of people developing anaphylaxis as a result of exposure to the plant material, however the occurrence is very rare. [27-41]

Used in Certain Conditions

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

No documentation

Age Limitations

Neonates / Adolescents

No documentation

Geriatrics

No documentation

Chronic Disease Conditions

No documentation

Interactions

Interactions with drugs

No documentation

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No documentation

Contraindications

Contraindications

No documentation

Case Reports

No documentation

References

1.Burkill IH., A Dictionary of Economic Products of the Malay Peninsula Volume 1, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, 1966, pg. 1021

2.Khare CP., Indian Medicinal Plants: An Illustrated Dictionary, Springer-Verlag, Berlin 2007 pg. 265

3.Flora of China [http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=2&taxon_id=200006350] Accessed 2nd February 2013

4.Hanelt P., Mansfeld’s Encyclopedia of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops, Springer-Verlag, Berlin 2001, pg. 367 – 368

5.Niar DD. Medicinal Plants of Tripura D.K. Agencies (P) Ltd. New Delhi 2009 pg. 96

6.Parveen M, Ghalib RM, Mehdi SH, Rehman SZ, Ali M. A new triterpenoid from the leaves of Ficus benjamina (var. comosa). Nat Prod Res. 2009;23(8):729-36. doi: 10.1080/14786410802362204.

7.Dai J, Shen D, Yoshida WY, Parrish SM, Williams PG. Isoflavonoids from Ficus benjamina and their inhibitory activity on BACE1. Planta Med. 2012 Aug;78(12):1357-62. doi: 10.1055/s-0032-1315001. Epub 2012 Jul 4.

8.Mousa O, Vuorela P, Kiviranta J, Wahab SA, Hiltunen R, Vuorela H. Bioactivity of certain Egyptian Ficus species. J Ethnopharmacol. 1994 Jan;41(1-2):71-6.

9.Yarmolinsky L, Huleihel M, Zaccai M, Ben-Shabat S. Potent antiviral flavone glycosides frombenjamina leaves. Fitoterapia. 2012 Mar;83(2):362-7. doi: 10.1016/j.fitote.2011.11.014. Epub 2011 Dec 3.

10.da Cruz RC, Agertt V, Boligon AA, Janovik V, Anraku de Campos MM, Guillaume D, Athayde ML.vitro antimycobacterial activity and HPLC-DAD screening of phenolics from Ficus benjamina L. and Ficus luschnathiana (Miq.) Miq. leaves. Nat Prod Res. 2012;26(23):2251-4. doi: 10.1080/14786419.2011.650637. Epub 2012 Jan 11.

11.Nadkarni KM., Indian Materia Medica Volume 1 Presidency Printing Press, Bombay 1927, pg. 368

12.Axelsson IG, Johansson SG, Zetterström O. Occupational allergy to weeping fig in plant keepers. Allergy. 1987 Apr;42(3):161-7

13.Axelsson IG, Johansson SG, Zetterström O. A new indoor allergen from a common non-flowering plant. Allergy. 1987 Nov;42(8):604-11.

14.Axelsson IG, Johansson SG, Larsson PH, Zetterström O. Characterization of allergenic components in sap extract from the weeping fig (Ficus benjamina). Int Arch Allergy Appl Immunol. 1990;91(2):130-5.

15.Axelsson IG, Johansson SG, Larsson PH, Zetterström O. Serum reactivity to other indoor ficus plants in patients with allergy to weeping fig (Ficus benjamina). Allergy. 1991 Feb;46(2):92-8.

16.Bircher AJ, Wüthrich B, Langauer S, Schmid P. [Ficus benjamina, a perennial inhalation allergen of increasing importance]. Schweiz Med Wochenschr. 1993 Jun 5;123(22):1153-9.

17.Schmid P, Stöger P, Wüthrich B. Severe isolated allergy to Ficus benjamina after bedroom exposure. Allergy. 1993 Aug;48(6):466-7

18.Axelsson IG. Allergy to Ficus benjamina (weeping fig) in nonatopic subjects. Allergy. 1995 Mar;50(3):284-5.

19.Bircher AJ, Langauer S, Levy F, Wahl R. The allergen of Ficus benjamina in house dust. Clin Exp Allergy. 1995 Mar;25(3):228-33.

20.Delbourg MF, Moneret-Vautrin DA, Guilloux L, Ville G. Hypersensitivity to latex and Ficus benjamina allergens. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 1995 Dec;75(6 Pt 1):496-500.

21.Brehler R, Theissen U. [Ficus benjamina allergy]. Hautarzt. 1996 Oct;47(10):780-2.

22.van Ginkel CJ, Dijkstra AT, van Eyk CL, den Hengst CW, Bruijnzeel-Koomen CA. [Allergy to Ficus benjamina: at the workplace and at home]. Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 1997 Apr 19;141(16):782-4.

23.Díez-Gómez ML, Quirce S, Aragoneses E, Cuevas M. Asthma caused by Ficus benjamina latex: evidence of cross-reactivity with fig fruit and papain. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 1998 Jan;80(1):24-30.

24.Schenkelberger V, Freitag M, Altmeyer P. [Ficus benjamina -- the hidden allergen in the house]. Hautarzt. 1998 Jan;49(1):2-5.

25.Brehler R, Abrams E, Sedlmayr S. Cross-reactivity between Ficus benjamina (weeping fig) and natural rubber latex. Allergy. 1998 Apr;53(4):402-6.

26.Chen Z, Düser M, Flagge A, Maryska S, Sander I, Raulf-Heimsoth M, Baur X. Identification and characterization of cross-reactive natural rubber latex and Ficus benjamina allergens. Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2000 Dec;123(4):291-8.

27.De Greef JM, Lieutier-Colas F, Bessot JC, Vérot A, Gallerand AM, Pauli G, de Blay F. Urticaria and rhinitis to shrubs of Ficus benjamina and breadfruit in a banana-allergic road worker: evidence for a cross-sensitization between Moracea, banana and latex. Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2001 Jun;125(2):182-4.

28.Kanerva L, Estlander T, Petman L, Mäkinen-Kiljunen S. Occupational allergic contact urticaria to yucca (Yucca aloifolia), weeping fig (Ficus benjamina), and spathe flower (Spathiphyllum wallisii). Allergy. 2001 Oct;56(10):1008-11.

29.Werfel S, Ruëff F, Przybilla B. [Anaphylactic reaction to Ficus benjamina (weeping fig)]. Hautarzt. 2001 Oct;52(10 Pt 2):935-7.

30.Karimian-Teherani D, Hentges F. Allergy to Ficus benjamina. Bull Soc Sci Med Grand Duche Luxemb. 2002;(2):107-13.

31.Antico A, Zoccatelli G, Marcotulli C, Curioni A. Oral allergy syndrome to fig. Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2003 Jun;131(2):138-42.

32.Focke M, Hemmer W, Wöhrl S, Götz M, Jarisch R. Cross-reactivity between Ficus benjamina latex and fig fruit in patients with clinical fig allergy. Clin Exp Allergy. 2003 Jul;33(7):971-7.

33.Ebo DG, Bridts CH, Hagendorens MM, De Clerck LS, Stevens WJ. The prevalence and diagnostic value of specific IgE antibodies to inhalant, animal and plant food, and ficus allergens in patients with natural rubber latex allergy. Acta Clin Belg. 2003 May-Jun;58(3):183-9.

34.Rudack C, Sachse F, Jörg S. [Aeroallergens becoming more significant for allergic rhinitis]. HNO. 2003 Sep;51(9):694-703.

35.Jørs E. [The prevalence of skin and mucosal symptoms in gardeners handling Ficus benjamina (weeping fig) and Hedera helix (ivy). A cross-sectional study]. Ugeskr Laeger. 2003 Sep 8;165(37):3526-9.

36.Hemmer W, Focke M, Götz M, Jarisch R. Sensitization to Ficus benjamina: relationship to natural rubber latex allergy and identification of foods implicated in the Ficus-fruit syndrome. Clin Exp Allergy. 2004 Aug;34(8):1251-8.

37.Sesztak-Greinecker G, Hemmer W, Götz M, Jarisch R. [Allergic contact urticaria caused by a chameleon. Expression of sensitization to Ficus benjamina]. Hautarzt. 2005 Dec;56(12):1156-9.

38.Hemmer W, Focke M, Marzban G, Swoboda I, Jarisch R, Laimer M. Identification of Bet v 1-related allergens in fig and other Moraceae fruits. Clin Exp Allergy. 2010 Apr;40(4):679-87. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2222.2010.03486.x.

39.Pradalier A, Leriche E, Trinh Ch, Molitor JL. [The return of the prodigal child or allergy to ficus]. Eur Ann Allergy Clin Immunol. 2004 Nov;36(9):326-9.

40.Mahillon V, Saussez S, Michel O. High incidence of sensitization to ornamental plants in allergic rhinitis. Allergy. 2006 Sep;61(9):1138-40.

41.Sedó Mejía GA, Weinmann AM, González Díaz SN, Vidaurri Ojeda AC. [Sensitization to Ficus benjamina prevalence in adult patients with moderate-severe allergic rhinitis]. Rev Alerg Mex. 2010 Jan-Feb;57(1):11-7.

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