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On the sunny Greek island of Chios, there’s an unassuming evergreen shrub that produces a powerful resin with major medicinal potential.
It’s called mastic resin, and it’s been used to relieve a wide variety of ailments for over 3,000 years. People have put this resin in pills, powders, oils, tinctures and, perhaps most popularly, gum.
Gum is a great way to experience the benefits of this potent plant resin because many of its best benefits are for your oral health.
Studies show mastic gum can reduce the amount of cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth, lower plaque levels, reduce gum inflammation and neutralize mouth odor. That’s probably why chewing mastic gum has been a popular dental hygiene practice in Greece since the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries
But mastic’s benefits don’t stop in your mouth… far from it…
Mastic gum is good for your gut, liver, bowels and beyond
Your stomach reaps some serious benefits from mastic too. In fact, people have been using mastic to relieve stomach ailments just as long as they’ve been using it for healthy teeth.
Studies show mastic relieves gut inflammation and goes to bat against bad gut bacteria like Helicobacter pylori, which is linked to ulcers and a higher cancer risk. A 2012 study found that mastic can kill other bacteria and fungi linked to ulcers too.
Mastic even helps inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease. A 2015 study found that people who used mastic gum for four weeks had less Crohn’s symptoms. They also had lower levels of inflammatory proteins in their blood.
Mastic has lowered cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels in certain studies too. Plus, it seems to have a positive impact on liver health. One study found it lowered levels of liver enzymes connected to liver damage. Another study found that mastic prevents liver damage in diabetic mice prone to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
But perhaps the most exciting uses for mastic lie in the future…
Clinical trials are currently underway in the U.S. to see if mastic can heal nerve damage. There have already been studies in animals and small studies in humans that show it may be able to repair damaged nerves. If this is the case, it could help people with a variety of neurological and neurodegenerative disorders, including multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s.
Mastic also has potential when it comes to preventing and treating cancer. A 2009 study found that it killed lung cancer cells in a laboratory setting and could keep lung tumors from growing and spreading. There’s evidence that it could have a similar effect on certain types of prostate cancer too.
Should you try the fantastic mastic?
Mastic sounds almost miraculous, doesn’t it? But before you get too excited, a lot of mastic’s benefits have only been studied in small human studies or animal studies, if they’ve been studied at all. So, the outcome of adding mastic to your healing regimen is far from certain. Still, it’s been used by people in Greece (and all over the world) for centuries. And the initial scientific research is promising. So, it may be worth trying.
If you’re interested in testing mastic for yourself, mastic gum and supplements are available online. There are even mouthwashes and toothpastes that contain mastic. Those are obviously for people who want to reap mastic’s oral health benefits.
If you’re taking mastic to support gut and bowel health, you’ll probably want to get a mastic supplement. Powdered mastic supplements seem to be best for inflammatory bowel conditions, while mastic gum capsules are the go-to treatment for ulcers.
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- Can This Ancient Greek Medicine Cure Humanity? — The New York Times
- A pilot study on antiplaque effects of mastic chewing gum in the oral cavity — Journal of Periodontology
- Recent Study Validates Cultural use of Mastic Gum for Oral Health — Clinical Education
- Effects of Three Mastic Gums on the Number of Mutans Streptococci, Lactobacilli and PH of the Saliva — Journal of Dentistry of Tehran University of Medical Sciences
- What Is Mastic Gum and How Is It Used? — Healthline
- Chios mastic gum modulates serum biochemical parameters in a human population — Journal of Ethnopharmacology
- Hypolipidemic, Hepatoprotective and Anti-inflammatory Role of Chios Mastic gum in Streptozotocin-induced Diabetic Mice with Fatty Liver Disease — Hellenic Journal of Atherosclerosis
- Top 5 Reasons You’ll Love Mastic — American College of Healthcare Sciences
- Anti-inflammatory activity of Chios mastic gum is associated with inhibition of TNF-alpha induced oxidative stress — Nutrition Journal
- A transcriptomic computational analysis of mastic oil-treated Lewis lung carcinomas reveals molecular mechanisms targeting tumor cell growth and survival — BMC Medical Genomics