|Mastic foliage and flowers|
Mastic foliage and flowers
Mastic (Pistacia lentiscus) is an evergreen shrub or small tree growing to 3–4 m tall, mainly cultivated for its aromatic resin on the Greek island of Chios,. It is native throughout the Mediterranean region, from Morocco and Iberia at the east through southern France and Turkey to Syria and Israel in the west; it is also native on the Canary Islands. The word mastic derives either from a Phoenician word or from the Greek verb mastichein ("to gnash the teeth", origin of the English word masticate) or massein ("to chew").
A hard, brittle, transparent resin, also known as mastic (or mastix), is obtained from the tree. The resin is collected by bleeding from small cuts made in the bark. When chewed, the resin becomes bright white and opaque.
Mastic resin is a relatively expensive kind of spice, used in liquors (mastica alcoholic drink) and chewing gum pastilles. It is also a key ingredient in dondurma, a Turkish ice cream, and Turkish puddings granting that confection its unusual texture and bright whiteness. It was the Sultan's privilege to chew mastic, and it was considered to have healing properties. Mastic is also used for pastry making, drinks, baked goods, chewing gum, cosmetics such as toothpaste, and lotions for the hair and skin and perfumes.
It is used in cooking of many dishes in Egypt, ranging from soup to meats to dessert. It is also chewed as a gum to sooth the stomach.
The resin is harvested from incisions in the main branches of the tree dropping onto specially prepared ground under the branches. The harvesting is done during the summer months between June and September. After the mastic is collected it is washed manually and spread in the sun to dry.
The aromatic flavoured resin, used commercially, come from mastic trees grow in the south of the Greek island of Chios in the Aegean Sea, where it is also known by the name "Chios Tears".
Mastic gum is principally used either as a flavouring or for its gum properties, as in mastic chewing gum. Chios's native drinks, Mastichato, a smooth sweet smelling mastic liqueur and mastic-flavored ouzo, are made from "Chios Tears". In culinary uses, it can also be enjoyed in baking and in sweets such as biscuits, mastic ice cream, and mastic spoon sweets. In its refined form it is also used as the primary ingredient for toothpaste, shampoos and perfumes.
People in the Mediterranean region have used mastic as a medicine for gastrointestinal ailments for several thousand years. The first century Greek physician and botanist Dioscorides wrote about the medicinal properties of mastic in his classic treatise De Materia Medica ("About Medical Substances"). Some centuries later by Markellos Empeirikos and Pavlos Eginitis also noticed the effect of mastic in the digestive system.
Within the European Union, Chios Mastic production is granted protected designation of origin (PDO) and a protected geographical indication (PGI) name. The 'Mastichohoria' (mastic-producing villages) are located in the southern part of Chios.
In recent years, university researchers have provided the scientific evidence for the medicinal properties of mastic. A 1985 study by the University of Thessaloniki and by the Meikai University 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. Another 1998 University of Nottingham study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, claims that mastic can heal peptic ulcers by killing Helicobacter pylori, which causes peptic ulcers, gastritis, and duodenitis. However, a more recent study from 2003 shows that mastic gum has no effect on Helicobacter pylori. Another research from 2003 also shows similar findings.
- Union of Chios mastic producers
- Chios Rising
- The Magic Tree by Deborah Rothman Sherman, Epikouria Magazine
- Mastic Gum Kills Helicobacter pylori by Farhad U. Huwez, Debbie Thirlwell, Alan Cockayne,Dlawer A.A. Aladeen
- Monotherapy with mastic does not eradicate Helicobacter pylori infection from mice by Michael F. Loughlin, Dlawer A. Ala’Aldeen, and Peter J. Jenks
- Mastic gum has no effect on Helicobacter pylori load in vivo by James R. Bebb, Nathalie Bailey-Flitter1, Dlawer Ala’Aldeen and John C. Atherton
- a pilot study on antiplaque effects of mastic chewing gum in the oral cavity K. Takahashi, M. Fukazawa, H. Motohira, K. Ochiai, H. Nishikawa, T. Miyata, J. Periodontol. 74(4):501-5, Apr 2003.
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