mastic

From ancient times mastic has been used as a natural medicine. A leaf fossil from a mastic tree has been found dating six million years. Mastic oil and other sub products are produced from mastic and are they used widely in medicine, pharmaceutical industry, dentistry, and industry in general. A recent research of the University of Athens proved that Mastic and Mastic oil has remarkable antibacterial and fungicidal properties. In USA and Japan medicine is produced from mastic that cures stomach ulcer and relieves stomachache. Traditionally mastic is taken as a medicine to drop the sugar levels of the blood (diabetes) and to improve cholesterol.

The story of the mastic goes back to antiquity. In Roman times, women used its stiff stems to freshen their breath and whiten their teeth. Christopher Columbus remained astonished by the mastic’s effects when he visited the island and in February 1493 he wrote a letter to the Treasurer of Aragon to announce his discovery. Columbus believed he had found a cure against cholera.

Recently, a study of mastic gum for the treatment of duodenal ulcer, has shown that 70% of the patients were completed healed. Furthermore mastic oil has showed remarkable antibacterial activity and a very important fungicidal activity.

Mastic is a natural product that comes from mastic trees. It is a natural resin off white colour, semi transparent.

It is used as a natural and hygienic chewing gum, excellent for teeth cleaning and as a medicine for stomachache, stomach ulcer, diabetes, cholesterol etc.

The mastic tree is an evergreen bush, 1,5-3,5m height. It has an irregular shaped trunk -light grey when young and grey-reddish when older- with a lot of branches. Its scientific name is “Pistacia Lentiscus var. Chia”. The tree lives about a hundred years and is fully-grown after about 40-50 years. It starts giving its resin (mastic) when is 5-6 years old.

mastic tree

After about 15 years produces from 60 to 400 grams of mastic. Mastic tree is a rush that thrives only in the south part of the island of Chios and nowhere else in the world. Repeated attempts made around the world -including other parts of the island- to cultivate mastic trees have failed. The tree grows but does not produce mastic. According to theories it only thrives in South Chios, due to under water volcanoes, the mild climate and the lime consisting soil which has high drainage properties.

The preparation of the rush and collection of mastic is a laborious job that starts at the beginning of June and is carried on until December. The ground below the rush is cleaned up and prepared, and a special white soil is applied to the ground.

Then, once a week for a period of six to eight weeks, incisions are made to the trunk. The number of the incisions varies from 20-100 depending on the age and size of the tree. This is called “kentima”.

kentima

Slowly, slowly mastic starts to flow from the trunk like tears. Most of the “tears” drop to the white soil where they are left for 15-30 days until they are dry enough.

mastic drop

The collection of the mastic starts, only in the very first hours in the morning, in the middle August and carries on until September. The collection is normally done by November. Then the cleaning of the mastic starts which is a very laborious job.

collecting mastic

There are two kinds of mastic. The immaculate, first-class crystals, which are called “dahtilidopetres”, (flintstones) and the soft ones with spots which are called “kantiles”, (blisters).