Mastic gum is a resinous extract from the Pistacia lentiscus tree, indigenous to the Mediterranean islands. Themastic tree thrives especially well in the southern part of the island of Chios, due to the mild climate andcharacteristics of the soil. Mastic trees found else where, even in other parts of Chios, do not produce mastic gum. The plant itself is known for its lemony balsam-like smell, which canpermeate the air of the 'Mastichochoria', the villages on Chiosthat produce mastic gum. Interestingly, the ancient Egyptians used mastic gum, imported from Chios, in the incense they burned as atonic for exhaustion and to restoremental clarity.
Mastic gum was used by the ancient Greeks, Babylonians and Egyptians in many products, from chewing gum to healing formulas. In the 2nd century B.C., Galenus wrote about mastic gumâ€™s use for the health of the blood and lungs. Christopher Columbus wrote of its potential value formicrobial balance. Thomas Fullerâ€™s Pharmacopoeia extemporanea, which was published in 1710, lists many ancient formulas that include mastica.
Traditionally, mastic has been used for digestive tract health, to support gum and mouth health, and as a food preservative. Mastic gum is used in ointment, toothpaste, mouthwash, and as a component in dental fillings.Pharmaceutical companies use it in the production of pills and capsules, in self-absorbing surgical threads, and doctors use it for sticking a septic bandage on a surgical wound. This wide range of application points to mastic gumâ€™s toxicological safety.
Modern researchers have confirmed some of the traditional uses of mastic gum, including its roles in oral health and healthy digestive functioning. Researchers at the University of Nottingham used mastic gum in clinical trials to show mastic gumâ€™s contribution to gastrointestinal health, and particularly for unfriendly bacteria that reside in the stomach. These results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers at Aristotle University in Greece studied topical mastic gum and found potential benefit for the health of the mouth. Other European researchers confirm that mastic gum may help support the strength of the gums and teeth.
Many studies confirm that mastic gum has a low toxicity potential. Mastic gum is well tolerated and has no serious side effects when consumed at the recommended dietary supplement dose of 1-2 grams per day.