The Possible Benefits of Mastic Gum

A woman with stomach pain.
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Mastic gum is a resin sourced from the trunk of an evergreen shrub (Pistacia lentiscus var. chia) found mainly on the Greek island of Chios. Rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds, mastic gum has long been chewed to achieve certain health benefits.

Why Do People Use It?

Mastic gum is touted as a natural remedy for a wide range of conditions, such as: acid reflux, gastritis, fungal infections, heartburnhigh cholesterolindigestion, inflammatory bowel disease, respiratory problems, and ulcers.

In addition, an aromatic oil found in mastic gum is thought to help fight bad breath.

Benefits

In laboratory research, scientists have demonstrated that mastic gum possesses antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. Mastic gum contains a number of compounds with health-enhancing effects, including linalool (a substance also found in lavender, orange, rose, and jasmine oils).

Here's a look at several findings from the available research on the health benefits of mastic gum:

1) Indigestion

Mastic gum may help treat indigestion, suggests a 2010 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology. For the study, 148 people with functional dyspepsia (a type of indigestion with no obvious cause) took either a placebo or mastic gum three times daily.

After three weeks, indigestion symptoms were significantly less in those taking mastic gum (compared to those taking the placebo). Those symptoms included stomach pain and heartburn.

See other remedies for indigestion.

2) Stomach Ulcers

Preliminary laboratory studies suggest that mastic gum has activity against Helicobacter pylori, considered the main cause for gastric ulcers. 

A 2010 pilot study published in Phytomedicine explored the use of mastic gum three times a day for two weeks in people with H.

pylori infection. By five weeks post-treatment, the infection was eradicated in some, but not all (approximately one-third) study participants.

However, mastic gum alone or in combination with pantoprazole (a medication used to treat conditions in which there is too much acid in the stomach) was less effective in eradicating the H. pylori infection than a combination of pantoprazole with the antibiotics amoxicillin and clarithromycin.

3) Cavity Prevention

Mastic gum has long been touted as a natural cavity-fighter. In a 2006 study published in Archives of Oral Biology, for instance, researchers found that mastic gum may help prevent cavities. The study included 25 people with healthy gums, each of whom chewed either mastic gum or a placebo gum for 15 minutes.

After analyzing saliva samples taken from the participants both before and after gum-chewing, the study's authors found that mastic gum was significantly more effective in knocking out Streptococcus mutans (a type of bacteria closely linked to the development of cavities).

Related: 3 Natural Remedies That May Prevent Tooth Decay

In a lab study published in BioMed Research International in 2014, researchers found that a mastic gum extract antimicrobial activity against oral bacteria.

Possible Side Effects

Some people may experience allergic reactions when using mastic gum. If you experience difficulty breathing, chest pain, hives, or a rash when using mastic gum, it's crucial to discontinue use immediately and seek medical attention. There have also been reports of kidney or liver issues when using mastic gum.

Supplements haven't been tested for safety and due to the fact that dietary supplements are largely unregulated, the content of some products may differ from what is specified on the product label. Also keep in mind that the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.

You can get tips on using supplements here, but if you're considering the use of mastic gum, talk with your primary care provider first. Self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

Where to Find It

Widely available for purchase online, mastic gum (and supplements containing mastic gum) can be found in many natural-foods stores and in stores specializing in dietary supplements.

Sources:

Aksoy A, Duran N, Koksal F. "In vitro and in vivo antimicrobial effects of mastic chewing gum against Streptococcus mutans and mutans streptococci." Arch Oral Biol. 2006 Jun;51(6):476-81.

Dabos KJ, Sfika E, Vlatta LJ, Frantzi D, Amygdalos GI, Giannikopoulos G. "Is Chios mastic gum effective in the treatment of functional dyspepsia? A prospective randomised double-blind placebo controlled trial." J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Feb 3;127(2):205-9.

Dabos KJ1, Sfika E, Vlatta LJ, Giannikopoulos G. The effect of mastic gum on Helicobacter pylori: a randomized pilot study. Phytomedicine. 2010 Mar;17(3-4):296-9. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2009.09.010. Epub 2009 Oct 29.

Giaginis C, Theocharis S. "Current evidence on the anticancer potential of Chios mastic gum." Nutr Cancer. 2011 Nov;63(8):1174-84.

Koutsoudaki C, Krsek M, Rodger A. "Chemical composition and antibacterial activity of the essential oil and the gum of Pistacia lentiscus Var. chia." J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Oct 5;53(20):7681-5.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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