Origin and history Mastic
Mastic resin or mastic is the resin of the evergreen mastic pistachio, which has long been grown on the Mediterranean island of Chios. Even today, Chios is the largest European supplier of resin. Beneath the bark of this shrub, which occasionally grows like a small tree, there are numerous resinous channels. Once a year, the bark is scratched to collect new “tear resins” by hand. For one kilogram of the desired resin, ten trees must be scratched! The highest quality goods are recognizable by their light, slightly yellowish color. In Greece, mastic is used as a sweetener for lemonades, as a refreshing chewing gum (gum mastic) or for special flavors in pastries and desserts. The well-known mastic and ouzo brandies are also flavored with resin. In addition to resin, the leaves and fruits of the bush are also suitable for seasoning. They are used in cooking in a similar way as bay leaf or juniper berries. Due to the content of tannins, leaves and fruits are also used as home remedies against diarrhea. Due to its wide range of medical applications, the resin has always been mostly appreciated.
Mastic resin is used for numerous medical applications. Scientists have used it in ancient times for stomach or intestinal problems, for inflammation of the skin and mucous membranes, as well as for rheumatism and wounds. The healing effect is due to the following characteristic properties of the resin, which are also known from other resins, such as incense or myrrh: It has antifungal and antiviral, as well as antibacterial and antimicrobial action.
- Antifungal action: the resin contains substances that prevent the colonization of the mucous membrane by fungi, for example in candida
- Antiviral effect: the resin protects the body mucosa from the penetration of the virus.
- Antibacterial and antimicrobial effect: the resin prevents the spread and multiplication of bacteria. It is directed against microorganisms and inhibits their growth.
The importance of mastic as an antioxidant
Modern research has revealed that so-called free radicals are at the beginning of many health problems. Free radials attack cells in the human body and permanently damage organs. Cell damage can lead to cell degeneration and thus cancer. Recent research investigates the effect of mastic as a “radical scavenger”, especially in gastric cancer, prostate cancer and leukemia.
When free radicals attack collagen in cartilage tissue, it can lead to joint problems such as arthritis. Stroke and dementia are also partially promoted by vascular damage that can be traced to free radicals. Mastic is an antioxidant that can make a valuable contribution to cell protection.
Use for rheumatic ailments and for wound healing
The resin is used externally for rheumatic ailments and for wound healing. For this purpose, it is incorporated into ointments and lotions, for example to relieve joint pain and to fight inflammation. The above mentioned antimicrobial, antifungal and antibacterial properties keep wounds clean and promote healing.