Mastic is a resin obtained from the mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus). It is also known as tears of Chios, being traditionally produced on the island Chios, and, like other natural resins, is produced in “tears” or droplets.
Mastic is excreted by the resin glands of certain trees and dries into pieces of brittle, translucent resin. When chewed, the resin softens and becomes a bright white and opaque gum. The flavor is bitter at first, but after some chewing, it releases a refreshing flavor similar to pine and cedar.
Chios mastic is considered a spice for food. It is commonly used for baking and cooking, adding its aroma to foodstuffs such as brioches, ice-cream and other desserts. It is especially known to the Arab cuisine, but recently mastic is also increasingly used in Japanese cuisine.
It is a natural antioxidant with antimicrobial properties mainly against Helicobacter pylori and with significant anti-inflammatory action. In addition to its health benefits, has been reported to have aphrodisiac properties.
Practitioners of alternative medicine have long touted mastic gum as a natural remedy for indigestion, acid reflux, peptic ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), respiratory problems, gum disease, and various bacterial or fungal infections. The aromatic oils in mastic gum can also help fight bad breath.