The medicinal power of mastic tree

The mastic tree is an evergreen shrub that usually grows to a height of around three to four meters, but in rare cases can reach a height of eight meters. It owes its name to the resin it produces, which is called mastic. This shrub is native to rocky parts of the Mediterranean, from Turkey to Morocco. It is also a native tree on the Canary Islands. He has naturalized in Mexico. Mastic has been a medicine for digestive disorders since time immemorial. By the way, in ancient times a kind of chewing gum was made from mastic. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.

Botanical drawing of mastic tree / Source: Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen, Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

Contents:

  • Mastic in earlier times
  • Mastic is edible
  • Extraction and uses
  • Active substances
  • Mastic resin for the stomach
  • Mastic oil for swelling
  • Dose and safety

Mastic in earlier times

Dioscorides, pioneer of medicine and herbal science, described mastic in his legendary book De Materia Medica. In his time, the first century AD, it was widely used as a remedy for stomach and intestinal problems. Doctors who lived a few years later such as Markellos Empeirikos and Pavlos Eginitis also promoted the use of mastic for stomach and intestinal problems. The vision of these doctors is supported by current scientific insight. Countless scientific studies have been conducted that point to the medicinal effectiveness of mastic for bacterial plaque in the mouth, peptic ulcer, gastritis or inflammation of the stomach and duodenal inflammation. Modern scientific research has found out that a significant amount of types of bacteria are eliminated by mastic. In addition, a number of applications have not (yet) been supported by science, such as the use of mastic for diarrhea, gonorrhea, white fever, gout, rheumatism and liver cirrhosis.

Mastic is edible

The mastic, the resin residue of the mastic tree, is not only a medicinal substance; it is edible. You can chew this sweetish resin. It is, as it were, a natural, organic chewing gum. It makes the breath sweeter. Moreover, it has something that synthetic chewing gum does not have; it fights oral bacteria and is good for the gums. Mastic is used as a flavoring agent in puddings. This mainly happens in Turkey.

Extraction and uses

Mastic is extracted by making a cut in the bark during the summer until autumn. This is not made too deep, not up to the trunk. The resin then flows out and is collected. Mastic can be dried and ground into powder, but it can also be made into an essential oil.

Pistacia lentiscus / Source: Rafaelji, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

In addition, there are many other applications. For example, it is made into varnish, a glue to stick on false beards and it is a fixative in perfume. In addition, it can be made into a toothpaste or ointment and it sometimes serves as a temporary filling for a hole in a tooth.

In Latin, mastic tree is called Pistacia lentiscus .

Active substances

Only the resin of the mastic tree is used for phytotherapeutic purposes. This resin contains an essential oil with monoterpenes such as alphapinene, mycene, sabinene and delta-3-crene. It also contains alpha-masticoresin, beta-masticoresin, alpha- and beta-masticic acid, alpha- and beta-masticic acid, masticoic acid and bitter substances.

Mastic resin for the stomach

Mastic resin is anti-inflammatory for the stomach mucosa. It has an astringent or astringent effect on the stomach wall. This protects the cells of the stomach wall and reduces gastric secretion, the secretion of gastric juices. In addition, the acidity of the stomach is improved and the heliobacter pylori bacteria are killed. Due to these medicinal activities, mastic resin is prescribed in phytotherapy for the following indications:

  • Pyrosis or acid reflux,
  • Gastritis or inflammation of the stomach,
  • Gastralgia or stomach pain,
  • Consequences of aspirin use,
  • Adjuvant for inflammation of stomach and duodenal ulcers.

Mastic oil for swelling

The essential oil of the mastic tree works well against swelling. The blood vessel system and the lymphatic system in particular benefit from this swelling-reducing property. It also has a positive effect on an enlarged prostate. To find this healing power of mastic resin helpful in:

Mastic resin / Source: Lemmikkipuu, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

  • Varicose veins
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Sinusitis or sinusitis,
  • Benign prostate hypertrophy or enlarged prostate,
  • Prostatitis or prostate inflammation.

Dose and safety

In phytotherapy, mastic is not often used for internal purposes, although its effect is undisputed. On the other hand, the positive effects on the blood vessel system and the lymphatic system are increasingly being solved with the help of essential mastic oil. For this purpose, a few drops of essential oil are added to a carrier oil and this mix is rubbed into the skin where the complaints are. A carrier oil can be any number of organic oils, for example: almond oil, jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, perilla oil, olive oil and avocado oil.