Mastic is a resin, or gum, that is extracted from a tree from the Mediterranean or Middle Eastern regions. Long used as a chewing gum and a traditional medicine, mastic resin also has been developed for use in numerous industrial applications (Milov et al., 1998). Preliminary clinical evidence has confirmed mastic resins use to be useful in the treatment of ulcer. Mastic has been further shown to exhibit antibacterial activity against Helicobacter pylori, explaining its efficacy in ulcers. Mastic has also shown antibacterial, antiplaque and antigingival activity in the saliva and on the teeth (Takahashi et al., 1998).
Although it has not yet been well-studied as an herbal medicine, mastic resin has a long history of use and the preliminary clinical evidence is promising for its use in ulcers.
Al-Habbal et al. (1984) performed a double-blind clinical study on mastic for treatment of duodenal ulcer. Mastic was given (1 gram daily) to twenty patients and placebo (lactose, 1 gram daily) to eighteen for 2 weeks. Mastic showed highly statistically significant improvements in both the symptomatic relief (80% of the treatment group vs. 50% of the placebo group) and the clinical manifestation of disease as proven by endoscopic examination (70% of the treatment group vs. 22% of placebo patients). Additionally, mastic was found to be well tolerated with no side effects.
Antiplaque, Antigingival and Antibacterial Activity of Mastic Chewing Gum
A chewing gum of mastic resin was tested in two double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled studies for the control of dental plaque. In the first study, the saliva of was collected from the mouths of participants after mechanical brushing and chewing gum and examined for its antibacterial activity by mastic or placebo gum. The mastic chewing gum group showed statistically significant reduction in the bacterial growth as compared to the placebo group during the 4 hours of chewing gum. In the second study, mastic or placebo gum chewing (and no brushing) was tested over the period of 7 days for their ability to control new plaque formation on tooth surfaces and on gingival inflammation. The mastic group showed significantly reduced plaque index measures, and gingival index compared to placebo (Takahashi et al., 1998).
Safety / Dosage
One gram daily is used for treating ulcers and gastrointestinal discomfort. Mastic is not known to product any side effects, and is thought to be safe (Al-Habbal et al., 1984).
1.Al-Habbal MJ, Al-Habbal Z, Huwez FU. A double-blind controlled clinical trial of mastic and placebo in the treatment of duodenal ulcer. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 1984 Sep-Oct;11(5):541-4.
2.Huwez FU, Al-Habbal MJ. Mastic in treatment of benign gastric ulcers. Gastroenterol Jpn. 1986 Jun;21(3):273-4.
3.Milov DE, Andres JM, Erhart NA, Bailey DJ. Chewing gum bezoars of the gastrointestinal tract. Pediatrics. 1998 Aug;102(2):e22.
4.Takahashi K, Fukazawa M, Motohira H, Ochiai K, Nishikawa H, Miyata T.
5.A pilot study on antiplaque effects of mastic chewing gum in the oral cavity. J Periodontol. 2003 Apr;74(4):501-5.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This monograph can be found in The Health Professional's Guide to Dietary Supplements (Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins) by Shawn M. Talbott, PhD and Kerry Hughes, MS.