Mastic health benefit, pistacia lentiscus tree
January 23 2016 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D. 

Mastic is a small tree cultivated on the Greek island of Chios but also available throughout the Middle East. A resin produced by the tree has been used for gastrointestinal conditions in Mediterranean countries.

Mastic can reduce bacterial plaque in the mouth and mastic oil has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Other benefits include healing peptic ulcers, Helicobacter Pylori treatment, and possibly crohn's disease. Mastic has been shown to reduce bacteria in the mouth that account for dental caries.

Mastic, cholesterol and blood lipids
Chios mastic gum modulates serum biochemical parameters in a human population.
J Ethnopharmacol. 2009;  Triantafyllou A, Chaviaras N, Sergentanis TN. Department of Biochemistry, Medical School, National University of Athens, 75, Mikras Assias str., Athens, Greece.
Chios mastic (Pistacia lentiscus var. chia) possesses beneficial (antimicrobial, antioxidant, hepatoprotective) properties. This study aims to assess its effects on cardiologic and hepatic biochemical indices of human subjects. Subjects (n=133, aged over 50) were randomly assigned to two groups, the first (high-dose group) ingesting daily 5g of mastic powder and the second receiving daily a Chios mastic solution (low-dose group). Serum biochemical parameters were determined on a monthly basis for an 18-month (high-dose group) and a 12-month (low-dose group) follow-up period. The group ingesting Chios mastic powder (high-dose group) exhibited a decrease in serum total cholesterol, LDL, total cholesterol/HDL ratio, lipoprotein (a), apolipoprotein A-1, apolipoprotein B (apoB/apoA-1 ratio did not change), SGOT, SGPT and gamma-GT levels; in the second (low-dose) group, glucose levels decreased in males. Discussion: Chios mastic powder could have a hepatoprotective and cardioprotective role in vivo in humans.

Pharm Biol. 2015. Evaluation of Pistacia lentiscus seed oil and phenolic compounds for in vitro antiproliferative effects against BHK21 cells. In Tunisian folk medicine, mastic fixed oil is used for cancer treatment This investigation studied, for the first time, the antiproliferative effect of mastic fixed oil and its phenolic extract on BHK21 cancer cells. The results demonstrated the potential of Pistacia lentiscus fixed oil in treating cancer, as it is used in traditional medicine.

Mastic for Crohn's disease
Chios mastic treatment of patients with active Crohn's disease.
World J Gastroenterol. 2007. Kaliora AC, Stathopoulou MG, Triantafillidis JK. Department of Science of Dietetics-Nutrition, Harokopio University of Athens, 70 El. Venizelou ave., Kallithea 17671, Athens, Greece.
To evaluate the effectiveness of mastic administration on the clinical course and plasma inflammatory mediators of patients with active Crohn's disease. This pilot study was conducted in patients with established mild to moderately active Crohn's disease, attending the outpatient clinics of the hospital, and in healthy controls. Ten patients and 8 controls were recruited for a 4-wk treatment with mastic caps (6 caps/d, 0.37 g/cap). All patients successfully completed the protocol. CD Activity Index (CDAI), Nutritional Risk Index (NRI), C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1), and total antioxidant potential (TAP) were evaluated in the plasma at baseline and at the end of the treatment period. Patients exhibited significant reduction of CDAI as compared to pretreament values. Plasma IL-6 was significantly decreased, and so did CRP. TAP was significantly increased. No patient or control exhibited any kind of side effects. The results suggest that mastic significantly decreased the activity index and the plasma levels of IL-6 and CRP in patients with mildly to moderately active Crohn's disease. Further double-blind, placebo-controlled studies in a larger number of patients are required to clarify the role of this natural product in the treatment of patients with Crohn's disease.

Mastic for H. Pylori
In vitro and in vivo activities of Chios mastic gum extracts and constituents against Helicobacter pylori.
Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2007. Laboratory of Pharmacognosy and Natural Products Chemistry, Department of Pharmacy, University of Athens, Greece.
The extracts and pure major constituents of Chios mastic gum (resin of Pistacia lentiscus var. chia) were tested for their activities against Helicobacter pylori. A total mastic extract without polymer was prepared after removal of the contained insoluble polymer in order to ameliorate solubility and enhance in vivo activity. Administration of this mastic extract to H. pylori SS1-infected mice over the period of 3 months with an average dose of 0.75 mg/day led to an approximately 30-fold reduction in the H. pylori colonization. However, no attenuation in the H. pylori-associated chronic inflammatory infiltration and the activity of chronic gastritis was observed. To further characterize potential active mastic constituents, the mastic extract was separated into an acidic and a neutral fraction. Both were extensively characterized by nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectroscopy to elucidate the structure of the components contained within each fraction. After chromatographic separation, the acid fraction gave the major triterpenic acids, while the neutral fraction gave several triterpenic alcohols and aldehydes. Mastic extracts and isolated pure triterpenic acids were tested for in vitro activity against a panel of 11 H. pylori clinical strains. The acid fraction was found to be the most active extract, and the most active pure compound was isomasticadienolic acid. Our results show that administration of mastic extract may be effective in reducing H. pylori colonization and that the major triterpenic acids in the acid extract may be responsible for such an activity.

Testimonial received April 2014 by email
Several years ago I was infected with h. pylori. Two treatments of strong antibiotics did not helpexcept temporarily. I searched the web for answer and discovered mastic gum, made from the resin of mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus). I started taking mastic gum 200 mg and increased dosage up to 400 mg and after one year of daily use the h. pylori was eradicated. I use NutriCology brand. A side note, also many years ago I was in a Greek church having a bazaar. There in the bread section was a small bottle of natural mastic gum. I spoke to a lady working there. She said people in Greece uses mastic gum for any stomach trouble. I still have that bottle but use the NutriCology mastic gum if I have a flare up.

Mastic for tooth cavities
In vitro and in vivo antimicrobial effects of mastic chewing gum against Streptococcus mutans and mutans streptococci.
Arch Oral Biol. 2006.
Dental caries is associated with oral pathogens and Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans) is one of the primary cariogenic organisms. Mastic gum, from Pistacia lentiscus, has been shown to have antibacterial properties. The objective of this study was to determine antibacterial activity of mastic chewing gum against S. mutans and mutans streptococci in vitro and in vivo conditions. Clinical studies were performed on 25 periodontally healthy volunteers. The inhibitory effect of chewing mastic gum against mutans streptococci in saliva was compared to a placebo gum. This preliminary study showed that mastic gum had significant antibacterial activity against S. mutans and mutans streptococci and it may be a useful adjunct in the prevention of caries.

Different species
Scientific World Journal. December 2013. Five Pistacia species (P. vera, P. atlantica, P. terebinthus, P. khinjuk, and P. lentiscus): A Review of Their Traditional Uses, Phytochemistry, and Pharmacology. Pistacia, a genus of flowering plants from the family Anacardiaceae, contains about twenty species, among them five are more popular including P. vera, P. atlantica, P. terebinthus, P. khinjuk, and P. lentiscus. Different parts of these species have been used in traditional medicine for various purposes like tonic, aphrodisiac, antiseptic, antihypertensive and management of dental, gastrointestinal, liver, urinary tract, and respiratory tract disorders. Scientific findings also revealed the wide pharmacological activities from various parts of these species, such as antioxidant, antimicrobial, antiviral, anticholinesterase, anti-inflammatory, antinociceptive, antidiabetic, antitumor, antihyperlipidemic, antiatherosclerotic, and hepatoprotective activities and also their beneficial effects in gastrointestinal disorders. Various types of phytochemical constituents like terpenoids, phenolic compounds, fatty acids, and sterols have also been isolated and identified from different parts of Pistacia species.

Q. I use many products from Physician Formulas but I also take mastic supplement for Gerd from a hiatal hernia. I was wondering if you had more information about mastic, especially with all the research with H. Pylori. I buy all my needs from Physicians Formula but have to get the mastic elsewhere...also, I would like to see Dr. Ray formulate some herbal
tablets for blood pressure heart and circulation as well as for digestion. Seems they are two of the most common problems today and would make a great addition to the product line.
   A. These are good suggestions.

Q. Loved your website! I'm a gerd / gastritis sufferer for 6 years. I've been experimenting with herbal supplements. Took Mastic Gum for six weeks and it really did work but I developed a flutter in my chest so I stopped taking only to have my tummy crash on me. Reflux, acid, gassy all over again. Should I just judge how I feeling when trying supplements or should I have my regular doctor run test to make sure blood work, ekg ect? and also as we would with pharmaceuticals do we need to taper off herb supplements? or is quitting cold turkey okay?
   A. In most cases stopping an herb or natural supplement quickly is safe but there could be instances or individuals who would be safer by tapering off natural supplements for their condition. One example would be a patient with depression who was being helped by natural herbs but after stopping can relapse into severe depression. As to the decisions involving self-medication or medical advice, we suggest getting medical advice but each person is ultimately responsible for their own health decisions.

Q. Do you sell or do you know where I can buy isomasticadienolic acid? It's a component in mastic gum on your site.
   A. Not at this time.

Mastic Gum. I want to let you know of its incredible ability to kill H. Pylori. I was diagnosed with a peptic ulcer, and of course given drugs that I was told I'd have to stay on always. There was no test for a bacteria, no test for anything. Just a diagnosis I had an ulcer with a prescription! I did a lot of research on the internet about the causes of sudden stomach pain and learned a great deal about the bacteria, H.Pylori. So, I went to the health food store, got the mastic gum and in four days the horrible pains were gone! That was a year ago and I'm still great. Mastic Gum comes from a mediteranean tree that has always been proven to cure ailments. This herb should definitely be on your list. There's a ton of people being misdiagnosed with ulcers, when actually, they just have a simple problem with a simple cure.

I specialize in Sardinian traditional foods. My research has brought me to investigate the historical benefits of Pistacia Lentiscus, a plant of which there is aboundance in the mediterranean island of Sardinia (Italy). Amongst the historical benefits listed by centeranians in the island for mastic oil there is tooth and gum ache, stomach ache and tummy discomfort. In other words already in anchient times this oil was given to people as a natural remedy for Crohn's disease and colitis. Sardinian Mastic oil is indeed one of the longevity secrets listed in "The blue zones" the book written by Dan Buettner. We at Sardinian Food Export are working with several producers of Mastic Oil to bring this product to where it is most needed.