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Mastic

SCIENTIFIC NAME(S): Pistacia lentiscus L. Fam. Anacardiaceae

COMMON NAME(S): Mastic, mastick (tree), mastix, mastich, lentisk

History

Mastic resin was used in ancient Egypt as incense and to embalm the dead.It has also been used as a preservative and a breath sweetener. Mastic resin is still used as a flavoring in some Greek alcoholic beverages (eg, "retsina" wine) and in chewing gum from the island of Chios.

Botany :-

Mastic is collected from an evergreen, dioecious shrub, which can grow to 3 m in height. It is native to the Mediterranean region, primarily in the Greek Island of Chios. Its leaves are green, leather-like, and oval. The small flowers grow in clusters and are reddish to green. The fruit is an orange-red drupe that ripens to black.

Mastic is "tapped" from the tree from June to August by making numerous, longitudinal gouges in the bark. An oleoresin exudes and hardens into an oval tear shape, about the size of a pea (3mm). The transparent, yellow-green resin is collected every 15 days. If chewed, it becomes "plastic," with a balsamic/turpentine-like odor and taste. A related species is P. vera, the pistachio nut.

Uses of Mastic

Mastic has been used as a flavoring and a breath sweetener. It has also been studied for the treatment of ulcers. Mastic may also have antibacterial, antihypertensive, antioxidant, and cytoprotective effects.

Side Effects of Mastic

Allergic reactions have occurred.

Toxicology

Most toxicity regarding mastic or source P. lentiscus involves allergic reactions. The plant pollen is a major source for allergic reactions.The first report of immunological reactions to pollen extracts of Pistacia genus occurred in 1987.A monographic review on mastic discussing chemistry, pharmacology, and toxicity is available. Children ingesting mastic may develop diarrhea.

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