Mastic is the aromatic natural resin that comes from the mastic tree, which is mostly cultivated in Chios. The mastic tree - although cultivated in other parts of the world - thrives and "weeps" exclusively in South Chios and the average annual production per tree is 150-180 grams of mastic. Mastic has been cultivated for at least 2,500 years in Greece. The first mention of real mastic "tears" was made by Hippocrates, who used it to prevent digestive problems, colds and as a breath freshener. Today we find it in food, medicine and industry.
The uses of Mastic
Mastic has been very popular since antiquity. In ancient Greece it was known for its medicinal properties. The Egyptians used it to embalm the dead. The Romans and the Turks made toothpicks from skin wood to clean and whiten their teeth and to perfume their breath. Nowadays, its most widespread use is as a chewing gum and aroma for confectionery, while mastic liqueur is also known.
In the marketplace we find it in soft drinks, Turkish delights, candies, drinks but also as tears in thick form (large pieces), in fine form (small pieces), in powder form and in oil form, ie mastic oil. Today mastic is used in cooking and confectionery, to flavor creams, royal pies and various pastries. Mastic oil is used in the furniture industry and in the manufacture of musical instruments, in perfumery, in cosmetology, for the preparation of toothpaste, soaps, aromatic body cream, etc.
In addition, Chios Mastic is recognized as a medicinal product within the European Union as well as in countries outside it that follow the European pharmaceutical "monographs". The result of this registration is the possibility of marketing mastic preparations throughout Europe with health claims approved by the European Medicines Agency (Coreper). It is noted that the pharmaceutical "monograph" of Chios Mastic was accepted with two therapeutic indications, digestive problems and skin inflammations and healing of skin wounds. Finally, mastic is a high-calorie food that contains 1365 kcal / 100g, 83g carbohydrates, 18g fiber, but it does not contain any fat and salt, while its sugar content is low.
The properties of mastic
According to studies, mastic has antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, also has the ability to reduce lipids and glucose in the blood, while it is widely known for the relief it offers from discomfort to the stomach and gastrointestinal tract. In addition, it is used for skin problems as it has a healing effect. More specifically, research has shown that mastic has the following properties:
• can be used as an expectorant and antitussive
• to treat diarrhea
• is considered effective for the healing of ulcers, the treatment of dothyas (monks) and other skin diseases
• helps maintain teeth whiteness and clean breathing
• can fight many pathogenic bacteria such as Escherichia Coli, Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, Porphyromonas gingivalis, but also fungi such as various Candida strains
• acts preventively and possibly therapeutically against caries
• its antimicrobial action helps to neutralize microorganisms that cause dental plaque formation and bad breath
• has activity against Helicobacter pylori
• has a protective effect on the heart and blood vessels, reduces the levels of total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, lipoprotein α, while also protecting LDL cholesterol from oxidation (which is responsible for the formation of atherosclerotic plaque in blood vessels). Even the saliva from chewing Chios mastic has been shown to help inhibit the oxidation of "bad" cholesterol in the laboratory.
• may have anti-cancer properties against various forms of malignancies, such as prostate, colon, lung, oral and pancreatic cancer
• helps to regenerate the skin