Fig leaves are parts of fig trees, which are plants that bear figs, a fruit that has many nutritive properties. Fig leaves have had a strong symbolic resonance with cultures that were influenced by the Old Testament, since fig leaves were used by Adam and Eve to cover their nudity. Today, fig leaves have been found to have many medicinal properties.
Fig trees are deciduous, meaning that the leaves fall off the tree in the fall and winter. They are palmate, formed with lobes or leaflets that extend from the leaf's base. The number of lobes that make up the fig leaf is between three and seven. These lobes are shallow and toothed at their margins. The blades of the leaves can get up to 25 centimeters in length. They are thick, with rough upper surfaces and a soft hairiness. As with most leaves, the role of the fig leaf for the tree is photosynthesis.
Alternative health experts use fig leaves to treat a variety of ailments such as diabetes, bronchitis, genital warts, liver cirrhosis, high blood pressure, skin conditions and ulcers, according to NaturalNews.com. While diabetics who use fig leaves will still need to take insulin, those who take fig leaves will be able to take lower doses of insulin.
Fig leaves treat bronchitis when brewed as a tea. Boiling fig leaves in water creates a remedy for hemorrhoids. Chewing and swallowing fig leaves can provide relief for ulcers.
Figs have nutritional benefits, as they are high sources of calcium and fiber. They serve as a laxative, as reported by Purdue.edu. The fruit contains vitamins A, B, C and K, as well as zinc, folic acid and sodium. Those who consume figs regularly can experience benefits such as more stable blood pressure, more healthy sleep and a reduction in acne outbreaks. Figs also help women who are pregnant by reducing stomach acids.
In the Old Testament, Adam and Eve covered up their nudity with fig leaves. Due to this motif, figs are now used as metaphors for the act of covering up something embarrassing or disagreeable. Throughout Christian art of the Middle Ages, fig leaves were used in artwork to cover the private parts of Adam and Eve and other figures. A more recent case concerned a cast of Michelangelo's sculpture of David presented to Queen Victoria; a plaster cast of a fig leaf was added to the statue to protect Victorian sensibilities.