The mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus) is a small tree, which thrives in the Mediterranean region. It ranges from Portugal on the one end of the Mediterranean to Turkey on the other, and is also found in parts of tropical Africa. It was known and widely used by the ancient Greeks and Romans to treat a variety of gastrointestinal complaints. As a matter of fact, ancient Greek physicians, such as Hippocrates, Dioscorides, Theophrastos, and Galenos, mentioned its properties and recommended its use. The astringent and aromatic qualities of the bark of the tree have been used traditionally to cleanse the breath and to tighten the gums.* Mastic gum is a resinous compound found in the trunk portion of the tree. Resins, such as the triterpene mastic acid, make up 90% of the gum. Volatile oil is responsible for much of the aromatic quality of the gum and can constitute up to 3% of the product. Mastic gum is viewed as very safe. The resin is sometimes used in food and beverage production. Furthermore, there are a number of trace elements found in mastic gum such as sodium, magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, and manganese. Mastic has also been reported to possess strong antioxidant activity.
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