Mastic gum -info

Nature's miracle.

 

In this page you will find information about mastic. If you want to buy mastic, please go to our sale of mastic page.

Definition of mastic in dictionaryAn evergreen shrub or small tree, Pistacia lentiscus native to the Mediterranean.

A hard, brittle, aromatic and transparent resin produced by this tree 

Mastic -mastiha 

Mastic is a natural resin that comes from an evergreen small tree (large shrub) which is cultivated successfully in the island of Chios, in the Eastern Aegean Sea.

This evergreen tree called Schinos, belongs to the family of Pistachia. (Botanical name: Pistacia Lentiscus var. Chia) The average growth of the tree usually ranges from 1.5m (5 feet) to 3,5m (11 feet) tall and it begins to produce mastic at the age of 5 to 6 years old. This tree, after about 15 years, could give 60-250gr of its resin which is called mastic. The average production per tree is 100gr. In very exceptional cases very large old trees can produce 400gr of mastic, or even a bit more. This amazing tree thrives only in the South part of Chios Island. In South Chios we find 24 villages that deal with mastic tree growing and production.

Different names used for mastic are: Mastic, mastiha, mastika, masticha, mastica mastix etc.

Since 1997, Chios mastiha has been identified as Protected Designation of Origin product (PDO) and has been registered in the relevant community list.

 Mastic tears dripping from the trunk of the mastic tree are forming "stalactites"

 

Cultivation of mastic trees

Mastic cultivation 

 

From the ancient times until today, little has changed in the mastic production process, which unbreakably connects it to the historical tradition of Southern Chios.

The mastic tree is a rather resilient plant with minor demands, that is why it grows well on arid, rocky and poor soil. Its roots are spread on the surface of the soil and can survive in conditions of absolute drought. On the other hand be extremely sensitive to cold and frost.

The preparation of the mastic tree starts in winter with pruning the trees branches, thus giving the tree a shape suitable for getting under it.

 

At about the same time a superficial plough is carried out in the field.

Ploughing is mostly done in order to clean the field from weed, at a depth of about 10cm because the roots of the mastic tree are just below the surface of the soil.

Around June is carried out the levelling and cleaning of the perimeter around the trunk of the tree, where the mastic will fall.

The next step is to spread white soil (calcium carbonate powder) on this area in order give mastic resin that will drip down the opportunity to dry and to facilitate gathering without altering mastic’s chemical composition.

Collecting mastic from the special white soil on the ground

 

Mastic as it drips out of the trunk of mastic tree In mid July, the bark of the tree trunk is “injured” with incisions 10-15mm long and 2-3mm deep. The incisions are done in weekly stages and total 20-100, depending on the age and size of the tree, through a 6-8 week period. From these incisions the mastic resin will come out in liquid drops that often look like tears.

<- mastic as it drips out from the tree's branch 

Most of the mastic drips to the ground (on the white soil) and should stay there for 15-30 days until is dry enough to be collected.

The mastic growers are suitably dressed and well equipped. All the work is done early morning well before noon, before the intense heat of the Greek summer makes the mastic soft.

Mastic collection

 

Mastic collection starts usually mid August, with the work starting again very early in the morning.

The larger pieces are collected (along with dust, tree leaves and small stones) from the ground. They are spread in large wooden pans and taken in to the growers house to be stored in a dry and cool place.

The small pieces of mastic are collected Mid September from the tree trunk and from the ground.

Collecting larger pieces from the mastic tree truck

  

Cleaning of mastic 

The cleaning of mastic is a laborious task which starts November. Usually all the family participates and the cleaning process lasts throughout the winter period.

Mastic is washed and then the larger pieces are manually cleaned one by one with a small pointed knife.

The small pieces are cleaned in a different way.

  History of mastic 

There is evidence that cultivation and exploitation of mastic originates in ancient years, during the Hellenistic period. Mastic was a gift for Chios and at the same time a curse since it has always been the bone of contention for conquerors. There is even a medieval legend that explains the reason behind this phenomenon, according to which the mastic trees started crying as an expression of lament when Agios Isidoros was severely tortured by the Romans on the island.

When Christopher Columbus visited the island in the 15th century, mastic had already become the trademark of Chios. From ancient times mastic has been used as a natural medicine.. Many Greek ancient writers refer to the therapeutic properties of mastic.

A leaf fossil from a mastic tree has been found dating six million years.

Ancient map of Chios Island -Gravure

The Byzantine empire delivered the island to the Genovese on the 14th century. The Genovese managed to systematize production and trading of mastic. The Ottomans, successors of the Genovese, mandated the people of Chios to pay special taxes in kind (mastic). After World War I, mastic production declined and its value dropped. During recent years, systematic research, development and promotion have increased sales and reputation but also the price of mastic, so the growers revived their interest again.

 

Mastic properties

 

It is made of hundreds of components, among which only 80 are contained in identifiable quantities. Such multitude probably justifies the multiple properties and uses of mastic / mastic oil, in the fields of food industry, health and cosmetic care.

Mastic through microscope
  • Antimicrobial action of Mastic oil (Chios masticha essential oil)
    Significant research activity has been carried out regarding the antimicrobial action of mastic’s essential oil – mastic oil.
    Researchers have studied in particular that when mastic oil has been incorporated in the growth medium, it can delay the growth rate, but also eliminate microbes, bacteria and pathogenic micro organisms.
    The results of such studies confirm the important antimicrobial and antifungal action of mastic oil, thus encouraging its further usage as a component of pharmaceutical and other protection and care products.

 

  • Mastic as a protective agent against atherosclerosis
    Recently there has been an intense scientific interest regarding the use of natural antioxidant agents as protective means against the atherosclerosis disease.
    Because of their composition, these substances offer protection against the formation of atheromatous plaques, thus preventing the risk of atherosclerosis and heart diseases. The presence of phenolic molecules, triterpenic compounds as well as phytosterols among Chios mastic’s components is particularly important because of their action against the oxidation of low density lipoprotein (LDL) and that is a significant evidence for its potential antioxidant effect. Research activity in that field is still in an experimental stage. In any case, the results that have been published up to now are particularly encouraging and indicate thaa strong possibility of using mastic as a natural antioxidant agent.

 

  • Chios Mastic in relation to oral hygiene and dental research.
    Scientific studies have proved that chewing natural mastic gum is very helpful for gum exercise, along with all its relevant beneficial effects in dental health.
    It has been further confirmed that natural mastic, unlike ordinary chewing gums, induces greater salivation due to its particular taste and its relative hardness, something that gives a greater feel of mouth freshness and cleanness, while it has been also proved to be relieving for people suffering from dry mouth, a disorder especially common among elderly persons.
masticha toothpastes for oral hygiene

In addition, researchers have carried out numerous scientific and clinical studies regarding mastic chewing gum’s action in decreasing microbial plaque formation and eliminating bacterial growth inside the oral cavity.

 

  • Chios natural Masticha’s action in terms of prevention and treatment of peptic system diseases.
    The results of recent scientific studies related to mastic’s therapeutic action with regard to disorders of the peptic system are especially worth-mentioning.
    Ever since antiquity, it had been known that Chios mastic had a strong positive effect in stomach comfort, e.g. relieving from gastrointestinal disorders, dyspepsia, stomach ache, peptic ulcers, etc.
    In our times, scientific, laboratory and clinical studies have confirmed the previously significant action of Chios mastic.
    The first research efforts were carried out in university foundations and clinics of the Arab world, areas where the use of Chios mastic was and still is widespread even in practical medicine concoctions.  

 

Mastic uses 

Mastic tears and mastic leaf

Mastic has many useful qualities and uses.

  • It absorbs cholesterol,

 

  • it has antibacterial properties,

 

  • acts as an oral antiseptic,

 

  • aids digestion, tightens the gums,

 

  • heals wounds and

 

  • scientists discovered that when it is administrated even in small doses it cures stomach ulcers. 

 

  • Use of mastic as a component of wound healing bandages and as a skin regeneration agent.
    Relevant publications have revealed that mastic presents excellent wound healing and suturing properties, while at the same time it does not bring undesirable side effects to the skin (such as dermatitis, skin decoloration, etc), like other common healing products do.
    This unique natural resin is already used very often as a component of bandages, adhesive plasters, compresses and other healing agents applied for the protection and healing of wounds or post-surgical incisions.

 

  • Use in Dentistry and Orthodontics
    In dentistry, mastiha is used as a component of dental fillings and tooth moulds. Chewing mastiha assists in mouth disinfection, in reducing the frequency of orthodontic problems and in gum strengthening. Moreover, it humidifies the oral cavity, thanks to salivation, thus cleaning and perfuming the mouth. Chewing mastiha systematically eliminates or inhibits significantly the formation of microbial plaques. Therefore, it helps preventing caries and periodontal troubles. Finally, eugenol contained in mastiha oil is used today in dentistry as an antiseptic and soothing substance. Mastiha is used as a toothpaste and mouth wash ingredient for cleanness and disinfection of the oral cavity.

 

  • Medicinal – pharmaceutical use
    Mastiha fights helicobacter Pylori according to recent studies carried out by Nottingham university and published in the reliable medical journal The New England Journal of Medicine. Furthermore, universities in Greece and abroad currently study mastiha’s action in relation to diabetes mellitus, cholesterol and triglycerides. It is also worth mentioning mastiha’s effect on liver function by stimulating its detoxifying activity. Today, products such as mastiha powder, mastiha capsules and many more are widely on sale and are actually used by many people for dealing with the above health problems. Mastiha is also used in ointments against burns, frostbites, skin troubles as well as in adhesive plasters.
     
Mastic through microscope

  • Industrial use
    As mastiha is partially dissoluble in alcohol and fully dissoluble in ether, terpentine and other organic solvents, it is widely used in industry.
    Mastiha oil is used as a perfume but also as a perfume stabilizer. In textile and cotton industry it is used as a colour stabilizer for textile starching, especially for silk. In tanning industry, in elastics and plastics industry, in the production of colours, glues and glutinous substances, in camphor production and in colour printing, mastiha is used as a colour stabilizer.

Violin quality varnish with mastic It is also used for making high grade varnishes for musical instruments  (such as violins) and for airplanes, furniture etc, as well as Spanish (sealing) wax.

  • The use of natural mastic in cooking, baking, sweet making.
    Chios mastic is one of the oldest known spices in the Mediterranean and lends its distinctive aroma in many foodstuffs.

Mastic has been traditionally used as flavouring for festive breads, brioches and biscuits. In certain areas of Greece, mostly of the Aegean Sea, mastic is often used as flavouring for Easter sweets. Mastic is also used in confectionery, mostly for mastic-flavoured desserts and for a delicious ice-cream known as kaimaki, which has an unusual a bit chewy and stringy texture thanks to the addition of Chios mastic as a thickening agent. But modern Greek chefs have proved that this spice with its unique aromatic, wood- and pine-like, exotic taste can go along with a lot of foods even with chocolate. Greek tsoureki (sweet bread) with mastic

Moreover, mastic makes an important dietary supplement especially in cases of lack of trace elements.

In Greece and Cyprus they even use it to flavour bread. In Lebanon and Syria they make a sort of traditional mastiha-flavoured cheese.
For Arabs, mastiha is considered as a great luxury for flavouring food, sweets or milk.

Nowadays a variety of products are made from the mastic resin, including chewing gum, alcoholic drinks, sweets, spices, creams, lotions, toothpastes, while the most important use is in the medical industry all over the world.

 

 

You can watch a 10' video about mastic (unfortunately available only with Greek commendation) 

 

In recent years, university researchers have provided the scientific evidence for the medicinal properties of mastic.

A 1985 study by the University of Thessaloniki discovered that mastic can reduce bacterial plaque in the mouth by 41.5 percent.

A 1998 study by the University of Athens found that mastic oil has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.

A 1998 study, by Nottingham University, published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that mastic heals pectic ulcers.

In a medical conversion, in 1999, it was announced that mastic cures the stomach ulcer. 

In USA and Japan, they produce medicine with mastic, which cures stomach ulcer and relieves stomach ache.

The Greek Word mastiha is often translated in English as Mastic, masticha, mastiha, mastika, mastix etc 

mastic collectionMrs Maria going home with her donkey, having finished the work in the mastic treesLarge Mastiha treemastic tearmastic collection

Mastic in different languages:
English: Mastic · Català: Llentiscle · Corsu: Listincu, lustincu · Deutsch: Mastix · Ελληνικά: Μαστίχα · Español: Lentisco, mata charneca · Français: Lentisque, pistachier lentisque · Italiano: Lentisco · עברית: אלת המסטיק · Lietuvių: Mastika · Nederlands: Mastiekboom · ‪Norsk (bokmål)‬: Mastik · Polski: Pistacja kleista · Sardu: Modditzi, moddizzi · Slovenčina: Mastix · Suomi: Mastiksipistaasi · Svenska: Mastixbuske · Tiếng Việt: Nhũ hương · Türkçe: Sakız ağacı