The Latex of Ficus Trees and Derivatives as Anthelmintics

Historical Account

L. F. Thomen Department of Tropical Medicine, Tulane University of Louisiana, New Orleans, La.

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The value of the latex of certain Ficus trees as a vermifuge was known in South America as early as the Eighteenth Century.

In a book entitled Maison rustique à l'usage des habitants de Cayenne, the Chevalier de Préfontaine (1), in mentioning the high prevalence of “worms” among the population of Cayenne, states that for their treatment the people used the “milk of a species of fig.” In his short statement he says that this juice had to be taken mixed with water as the popular belief was that it would attack and corrode the intestines.

The first scientifical paper on the subject was published in 1770 by Bajon (2), who praised the value of this anthelmintic. He credited its introduction as a remedy to a negress brought from Africa.