Ficus religiosa is a large tree, growing to a height of 25 meters, with the trunk reaching a diameter of more than one meter. Leaves are alternate, long-petioled, ovate or heart-shaped, the apex tapered to a tail-like tip, up to 15 centimeters long. Blade is dark shiny green above, pale green below, with slightly undulate margins, Fruits are in pairs, 1.5 centimeters in diameter, and dark purple.
- Introduced to the Philippines in early times.
- Planted in parks and along roads.
Native to India.
- Plant yields ß-sitosteryl, n-octacosanol, methyl oleanolate, lanosterol, sigmasterol, lupeol.
Phytochemical studies have isolated phytosterols, amino acids, furanocoumarins, phenolic components, hydrocarbons, aliphatic alcohols, volatile compounds and secondary metabolites.
- Phytochemical study on fruits yielded major constituents of n-Hexadecanoic acid; 9, 12-Octadecadienoic acid; 9, 12, 15-Octadecatrienoic acid, and Butyl 9, 12, 15-octadecatrienoate.
(see study below) (17)
- Stem yielded alkaloids, saponins, tannins, triterpenes, and steroids. GC-MS analysis for bioactive components yielded major chemical constituents of 1,2-Benzenediol (9.85%), Caffeine (4.20%) and Stigmasterol,22,23- dihydro (1.81%).
- Physico-chemical compound analysis of bark yielded alcohol soluble extractive 7.21 ± 0.92, water soluble extractive 15.76 ± 0.67, total ash 7.68 ± 0.8, acid insoluble ash 0.41 ± 0.03. Phytochemical screening yielded
tannins, saponins, flavonoids, steroids, terpenoids, and cardiac glycosides.
- Considered astringent, antidiarrheal, antidysenteric, laxative, antiasthmatic, antifungal, antibacterial, antiulcer, antidiabetic.
- Leaves considered analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, febrifuge, vulnerary.
- Fruit considered digestive.
- Bark considered vulnerary, anti-inflammatory.
- Studies have suggested anticonvulsant antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, analgesic, wound-healing, antioxidant, anti-amnesic, and acetylcholinesterase properties.
Roots, leaves, seeds, bark, fruit, latex.
- No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
- Throughout South Asia, ethnomedical uses have been reported for about 50 types of disorders.
- Roots used for gout; chewed to prevent gum disease.
- Leaves used for treating constipation, mumps, abscesses.
- Juice extracted from leaves or powdered leaves used for fevers, wounds, constipation, dysentery, bruises, boils and mumps.
- Paste of leaf applied on wounds and bruises.
- Fruit used as digestive and laxative.
- Leaf decoction used for toothache pains. Infusion or decoction of bark used with honey for treatment of gonorrhea, ulcers, skin diseases, and scabies. Powdered bark used for wound healing. Paste of bark and leaves used for stomatitis. Decoction of root bark mixed with salt and jaggery used for diuresis. (36)
- Roots used to alleviate inflammation. Bark from roots used for low back pain, stomatitis, and ulcers.
- Latex combined with juice of roots to treat various skin diseases, including ringworm, athlete's foot, and other fungal affections.
- In traditional Indian medicine, bark used as antibacterial, antiprotozoal, antiviral, antidiarrheal. Leaves used for ulcers.
- In Bangladesh, used for cancer, inflammation and infectious diseases.
- In Ayurvedic and Malay traditional medicine, used for treatment of gastric ulcers.
- In India, used for bleeding disorders: hematemesis, hemoptysis, hematuria, menorrhagia, metrorrhagia, epistaxis, and bleeding hemorrhoids.
- Buddhist Ritual: Considered a sacred tree by the Hindus and Buddhists. Bodhi Puja, the veneration of the Bodhi-tree has been a popular and widespread ritual in Sri Lanka. Lord Buddha believed people of other faiths who lead meritorious lives would be reborn in low or high spiritual plains. Beings of low spiritual plain take refuge in Bo trees where they may grant relief to those offering Bodhi Puja or accept merit offered to them and get elevated in the spiritual world.
• Phytochemistry / Pharmacology: Studies have isolated phytosterols, amino acids, furanocoumarins, phenolic components, hydrocarbons, aliphatic alcohols, volatile components and few other classes of secondary metabolites. Fresh plant materials, crude extracts and various components showed a wide spectrum of in vitro and in vivo pharmacological activities - antidiabetic, cognitive enhancement, wound healing, anti-convulsant, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiasthmatic, immunomodulatory, antitumor, antiulcer, among many others. (2)
• Wound Healing / Roots: Root extracts of Ficus religiosa in the form of ointment promoted wound-healing activity; a 10% formulation showed better activity than a 5% concentration. (3)
• Anti-Ulcer: Study of ethanol extract of stem-bark against in vivo indomethacin- and stress-induced gastric ulcer significantly reduced the ulcer index in all assays used, reduced gastric juice volume, and free and total acidities. (4) Study evaluated a hydroalcoholic extract of leaves in rats against absolute ethanol, aspirin, and pyloric ligation induced gastric ulcer, with Ranitidine as standard drug. Results showed significant decrease in ulcer index value. (20)
• Nephroprotective / Cisplatin Induced Toxicity: Study of methanolic extract of F. religiosa latex against cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity showed nephroprotective and curative activity. (5)
• Antidiabetic: Study of aqueous extract of bark in normal, glucose-loaded hyperglycemic and STZ-induced diabetic rats exhibited significant antidiabetic activity. There was significant reduction of blood sugar in all models. There was significant anti-lipidperoxidative effect in the pancreas of STZ-induced diabetic rats. (6) A methanolic extract of F. religiosa exhibited significant anti-hyperglycemic activity in STZ-induced rats. The antidiabetic activity may be due to phenolic compounds and flavonoids. (18) Study evaluated the hypoglycemic and anti-inflammatory effects of FR with its comparison to glibenclamide. Results showed effective and dose dependent curative effect against hyperglycemia and elevated TNF-α in the tested doses. The favorable modulation of cytokine TNF-α may be responsible for the potent anti-diabetic effect. (32) Ethanolic extract of fruit showed pronounced antidiabetic activity at a dosage of 250 mg/kbw. (34)
• Anti-Inflammatory / Immunomodulatory: Study of aqueous extract of F. religiosa showed modulation of cytokine tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and indicates that the anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties are related to its potential antidiabetic activity. (10)
• Anthelmintic: The latex of three Ficus spp. (F. religiosa, F. elastica, F. bengalensis) were investigated for its anthelmintic activity against Indian earthworm Pheretima posthuma. Metronidazole was used as reference drug. All three possess anthelmintic activity but F. religiosa showed more activity. (7)
• Anticonvulsant: Methanolic extract of figs of F. religiosa exhibited dose-dependent anticonvulsant activity against MES and picrotoxin-induced convulsions, with no neurotoxic effects. Inhibition of the anticonvulsant effect by cyproheptadine suggests the involvement of serotonergic pathways in the anticonvulsant activity. (8)
• Anti-Inflammatory / Mast Cell Protective Effect: An aqueous extract of the bark showed significant anti-inflammatory effect in both acute and chronic models of inflammation. It also showed protection of mast cells from degranulation induced by various degranulators. These effect might explain the beneficial effects observed in kumkum dermatitis and other inflammatory conditions. (9)
• Antioxidant: Various extracts showed considerable inhibition of DPPH free radical formation. Results indicate the antioxidant property may be due to phenolic compounds. (11)
• Bronchospasm Potentiating Effect: Study results showed F. religiosa fruits was ineffective against histamine-induced bronchospasm in guinea pigs. In addition, the methanolic extract of fruits was showed potentiation of bronchospasm induced by histamine and acetylcholine on guinea pig tracheal chain preparation. (12)
• Chemopreventive / Cervical Cancer: Study reports the anti-neoplastic potential of aqueous extract of F. religiosa bark in human cervical cancer cell lines. In HeLa. FRaq induced apoptosis through an increase in intracellular Ca2+ leading to loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, release of cytochrome-c and increase in expression of caspase-3. These and other data suggest a chemopreventive potential in cervical cancer. (16)
• Phytoconstituents / Fruits: Phytochemical study on fruits yielded major constituents of n-Hexadecanoic acid; 9, 12-Octadecadienoic acid; 9, 12, 15-Octadecatrienoic acid, and Butyl 9, 12, 15-octadecatrienoate. In an earlier study on Vitex altissima, these phytoconstituents were shown to have significant biologic activities. (17)
• Wound Healing: Study evaluated the wound healing activity of leaf extracts of F. religiosa prepared in ointment form on excision and incision wound models on Wistar albino rats. Results showed significant promotion of wound healing activity in all the wound models, with a high rate of wound contraction, decrease in period of epithelisation, high skin breaking strength. The 10% form showed better results than the 5% concentration. (21) Study of aqueous extracts of F. religiosa and F. benghaensis in rats using excision, incision and dead space model showed significant wound healing, comparable to standard drug povidone iodine ointment, in terms of wound contraction, tensile strength, and histopathological parameters. (41)
• Analgesic / Leaves: Study evaluated different solvent extracts of leaf for analgesic potential by acetic acid induced writhing assay in Swiss albino mice. All the test extracts showed significant analgesic activity, with the methanol extract being most potent. (22)
• Anti-Asthmatic / Leaves: An in vivo study evaluated aqueous extracts of leaves for broncho-protective activity in guinea pigs. Administration of AEFRL produced significant effect on latency to develop histamine and acetycholine induced pre-convulsive dyspnea. Results also showed significant increase in the number of intact cells in the mast cell stabilizing model. (23)
• Biosorption / Nickel: Study investigated the pollutant binding capacity of acid treated Ficus religiosa leaves. Results showed the biosorbent is an attractive low cost alternative for treatment of wastewater containing lower concentrations of nickel. (24)
• Anti-Inflammatory / Analgesic / Anti-Lipid Peroxidation / Stem Bark: Study investigated a methanol extract of stem bark in Wistar albino rats and Swiss albino mice showed anti-inflammatory effect with significant inhibition of carrageenan-induced rat paw edema; significant analgesic effect with inhibition of acetic acid induced writhing; and significant anti-lipid peroxidant effects in vitro. (25)
• Hepatoprotective / Stem Bark: Stem-bark powder extract was investigated against paracetamol-induced hepatotoxicity in rats. Silymarin was used as standard drug. Results showed significant hepatoprotective activity, with the methanolic extract showed greater activity. (26)
• Anti-Cancer Effect / Stem Bark: Study investigated the cytotoxic effect of F. religiosa chloroform extract on genes expression in inhibition differentiation pathway on prostate cancer cells resistant to docetaxel (PC3-TxR) in vitro. Results showed an anticancer effect of FR chloroform extract which target Id pathway on PC3-TxR cells. (27)
• Adsorption / Chromium / Leaves: Study evaluated the chromium (Cr) removal capacity from aqueous solution using Ficus religiosa leaves. Results showed activated Ficus religiosa leaves can be used as efficient adsorbent for Cr removal from waste water. However, further research is needed for large scale removal. (28)
• Hepatoprotective / INH+Rifampin and Paracetamol Induced Toxicity: Study of a methanolic extract of F. religiosa showed hepatoprotective activity against isoniazid-rifampicin and paracetamol induced oxidative liver injury in rats. (29)
• Effect on Glycemic Index / Leaves and Bark: Study showed supportive scientific evidence that Ficus religiosa leaves and bark powder based food products possess significant lowering effect in glucose level, showing low glycemic index and glycemic load. Study speculates that addition of 10% leaves in the recipe may increase the insulin which affects digestion of carbohydrates to produce the hypoglycemic effects. (30)
• Antimicrobial / Leaves: Study evaluated leaves for in-vitro antimicrobial activity on two strains of microorganisms: E. coli and S. aureus. The extracts were more potent on S. aureus, and the water extract showed better activity than the methanol extract. (31) Study showed antimicrobial activity of diethyl ether and methanol extracts of bark and leaves of F. religiosa against three bacteria, viz. E. coli, S. aureus, and P. aeruginosa. The leaf extracts showed better antimicrobial activity against the test microbes. (42)
• Cardioprotective / Leaves: Study evaluated FR in STZ-induced diabetic cardiomyopathy in rats. Results showed significant improvement in diabetic markers, oxidative stress, inflammatory and cardiac markers, possible mediated through control of diabetes, modulation of oxidative marker and cytokine (TGF-ß1, TNFα). (33)
• Hepatoprotective / Cisplatin Induced Liver Injury / Latex: Study evaluated the hepatoprotective effects of F. religiosa latex on cisplatin induced liver injury in Wistar rats. Results showed a significant alleviation of cisplatin-induced elevation in ALT, AST, alkaline phosphatase and hepatocyte cells degeneration inflammatory infiltrate and necrosis. (37)
• Eco-Friendly Dye / Bark: Study investigated the dyeing of bleached cotton fabrics with natural dye from the bark of Ficus religiosa. Results showed good washing, light, and rubbing fastness properties and suggests a potential as a dye for coloring textiles with a good scope for commercial dyeing of cotton. (38)
• Memory Enhancing / Leaves: Study investigated the memory enhancing activities of ethanolic extract of leaves in Wistar albino rats and Swiss albino mice on five models of learning parameters. Results showed the leaf extract might possess anti-amnesic as well as nootropic properties. Amino acid constituents may be responsibe for the activity. (39)
• Heavy Metal Removal / Leaf Ash: Thermodynamics study investigated the sorption of lead (II) and chromium (VI) by F. religiosa leaves ash. Results showed sorption of lead was exothermic and that of chromium was endothermic. The equilibrium sorption data and sorption kinetics correlated with Langmuir model and pseudo second order model, respectively. (40)
• Anti-Diarrheal / Stem Bark: Study evaluated the antidiarrheal effect of various extracts of stem barks against castor oil-induced diarrhea model in rats. A 60% hydroalcoholic extract showed marked reduction in the number of diarrheal stools and total weight of diarrheal feces. (43)
• Behavioral Effect of Saponin Fraction: Study evaluated a saponin-rich fraction of adventitious root extract in pentylenetetrazol (PTZ) kindling mouse model and its associated depression and cognition deficit. Results showed significant decrease in seizure activity and marked protection against kindling-associated depression. It failed to protect against learning and memory impairments. Observed behavioral effects were corroborated with modulation in levels of adrenaline, dopamine, serotonin, GABA and glutamate in discrete brain regions. (44)
• Laxative / Leaves: Study evaluated the laxative potential of aqueous extracts of F. religiosa leaves in albino Wistar rats. Results showed significant laxative activity and dose dependently reduced loperamide induced constipation. There was significant enteropooling and excretion of Cl, Na, K, and Ca in the intestinal fluid. (45)