what is mastic gum used for
While research is still underway on the health benefits of mastic gum, it is used for a wide range of conditions, from digestive issues to dental problems

While research is still being conducted regarding the health benefits of mastic gum, it is used for a wide range of conditions, from digestive issues to dental problems.

4 possible health benefits of mastic gum

  1. Protects against gastric and duodenal ulcers: Numerous studies have reported that mastic gum may have anti-inflammatory properties. Mastic gum has shown remarkable activity against clinical cultures of Helicobacter pylori in lab models. Because H. pylori is a major culprit in gastritis, gastric, duodenal ulcers, gastric cancer, and mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue B-cell lymphoma, mastic gum may have applications in the treatment and prevention of these conditions. When consumed orally, mastic gum induces morphological abnormalities and cellular fragmentation in H. pylori-infected cells. Research has shown that mastic gum kills H. pylori at concentrations of about 0.06 mg/mL in animal models. It has anti-reflux properties that may help in gastroesophageal reflux disease.
  2. Soothes inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): In one study, mastic gum was shown to cause a decrease in the severity of IBD symptoms. Large-scale studies are underway to determine whether mastic gum may be effective as a supplement to conservative treatment in people with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Results so far have been encouraging.
  3. Prevents cavities and gum diseases: Mastic gum is commonly used in the manufacture of chewing gum. Clinical studies have reported that mastic gum can reduce salivary levels of Streptococcus mutans, a bacterium associated with dental plaque formation and gum inflammation. Participants who chewed mastic gum daily had significantly lower levels of bacteria in their saliva. Moreover, these levels reduced further as more time was spent chewing the gum. 
  4. Freshens breath: Chewing gum that contains mastic is known to reduce halitosis (bad breath) and give your breath a fresh, piney smell.

Claims regarding the effects of mastic gum in respiratory infections, wound healing, and fat-burning are not supported by scientific evidence.

What is mastic gum?

Mastic gum is a resin produced by the plant Pistacia lentiscus. This tree is found around the Mediterranean sea belt, particularly in the southern part of the Greek island of Chios. 

Initially, mastic gum is secreted as a colloidal clear liquid that solidifies into tear-like shapes after 15-20 days. It drops to the ground under the tree, then collected by hand and further processed for packing and use. 

When chewed, the resin softens and becomes a bright white, opaque gum. While bitter at first, the gum gradually releases a refreshing, slightly piney or cedar flavor.

The gum is used as a popular herbal remedy for gastric and intestinal issues.

How long does it take for mastic gum to work?

The efficacy of mastic gum depends on the condition it is used for:

  • Dental benefits are apparent after 1 week of regular use. 
  • Anti-ulcer and anti-gastritis benefits are the highest at 4 weeks of consumption. 
  • Effects against inflammatory bowel disease are maximal at about 4 weeks.

Does mastic gum cause side effects?

The FDA has classified mastic gum as GRAS (generally recognized as safe).

In clinical trials conducted so far, mastic gum seems to be well-tolerated. Some people complained of nausea, diarrhea, and constipation, but there have been no life-threatening adverse events. 

However, in the absence of large scale studies, children and pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid consuming mastic gum as a therapeutic agent.

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Medically Reviewed on 11/3/2021
References
Image Source: PicturePartners / Getty Images

https://iv.iiarjournals.org/content/26/5/777

https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02796339

https://www.clinicaleducation.org/news/recent-study-validates-cultural-use-of-mastic-gum-for-oral-health/