Ranni: The Bible tells us about Jesus cursing a barren fig tree. A fecund Indian Fig Tree in Kerala's Pathanamthitta district has become a crowd-puller. People seeking it at Rajan's house at the Kumpalampoika locality believe the towering tree on the plot has medicinal value.
When the branches of the tree were cut about four years ago, Rajan's family members noticed some sap oozing out. It later turned out to be pure water. This was collected in a bucket and as the word spread, several people started coming to Rajan's house in search of it. That is when Rajan decided to dig deep into the medicinal qualities of the fig tree, known as 'athi maram' in Malayalam.
Last Tuesday, when the branches were cut, more sap was found and it has been duly stored.
The medicinal tree
More than 800 species of fig trees have been identified and they belong to the genus Ficus.
It is well known that the extract, bark and fruit of fig tree have several medicinal properties.
The bark of the tree can be crushed an applied to cure several skin ailments. It is said to provide solace from diabetes and gastrointestinal illnesses. It can also be used as antidote for cholera, women's ailments, and blood pressure.
The fig fruit also helps in the digestive process. First, the figs need to be soaked in water. Then both the fig and the water have to be consumed in the night.
It is believed the sap or latex can cure skin tumours and warts.
The famed Ayurvedic concoction known as Nalpamaram powder (podi) is made by pounding the barks of athi, vanni (Mesquite Tree), arayal (Peepal Tree) and peral (Banyan Tree).
The branches of the athi tree are also used during the Hindu final rites.