AskDefine | Define mastic

Dictionary Definition



1 an aromatic exudate from the mastic tree; used chiefly in varnishes
2 a pasty cement used as an adhesive or filler

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. An evergreen shrub or small tree, Pistacia lentiscus, native to the Mediterranean.
  2. A hard, brittle, aromatic and transparent resin produced by this tree and used to make varnishes and chewing gum, and as a flavouring.
  3. A flexible, waterproof cement used as an adhesive, sealant or filler.


the shrub or tree Pistachia lentiscus
the tree's resin
the flexible, waterproof filler

Extensive Definition

Mastic (Pistacia lentiscus) is an evergreen shrub or small tree of the Pistacio family growing up to tall, which is cultivated for its aromatic resin mainly in Lebanon and on the Greek island of Chios,. It is native throughout the Mediterranean region, from Morocco and Iberia in the west through southern France and Turkey to Syria and Israel / Palestine in the east; it is also native on the Canary Islands. The word mastic derives either from a Phoenician word or from the Greek verb mastichein ("to gnash the teeth", origin of the English word masticate) or massein ("to chew").
For reasons that are not entirely understood, only the trees in the southern part of the island of Chios produce the distinctively flavoured resin. The island's mastic production is controlled by a co-operative of medieval villages, collectively known as the 'Mastichochoria', which are also located in the southern part of Chios.
Within the European Union, Mastic spice production in Chios is granted protected designation of origin (PDO) and a protected geographical indication (PGI) name.


The aromatic, ivory coloured resin, also known as mastic (or mastix), is harvested as a spice from the cultivated mastic trees grown in the south of the Greek island of Chios in the Aegean Sea, where it is also known by the name "Chios Tears". Originally liquid, it is sun dried into drops of hard, brittle, translucent resin. When chewed, the resin softens and becomes a bright white and opaque gum.

Cultivation history

The resin is collected by bleeding the trees from small cuts made in the bark of the main branches, and allowing the sap to drip onto the specially prepared ground below. The harvesting is done during the summer months between June and September. After the mastic is collected it is washed manually and spread in the sun to dry.

Medicinal uses

Mastic resin is also chewed as a gum to soothe the stomach. People in the Mediterranean region have used mastic as a medicine for gastrointestinal ailments for several thousand years. The first century Greek physician and botanist, Dioscorides, wrote about the medicinal properties of mastic in his classic treatise De Materia Medica ("About Medical Substances"). Some centuries later Markellos Empeirikos and Pavlos Eginitis. However a recent and more extensive study showed that mastic gum reduced Helicobacter pylori populations after an insoluble and sticky polymer (poly-ß-myrcene) constituent of mastic gum was removed and taken for a longer period of time. Further analysis showed the acid fraction was the most active antibacterial extract, and the most active pure compound was isomasticadienolic acid..

Other uses

Apart from its medicinal properties, cosmetics and culinary uses, Mastic gum is also used in the production of high grade varnish.
The Mastic tree has been introduced into Mexico as an ornamental plant, where it is very prized and fully naturalized. The trees are grown mainly in suburban areas in semi-arid zones and remain undamaged although the regime of summer rainfall is contrary to its original Mediterranean climate.


External links

mastic in Catalan: Llentiscle
mastic in Corsican: Listincu
mastic in Welsh: Pistacia lentiscus
mastic in German: Mastixstrauch
mastic in Modern Greek (1453-): Μαστίχα
mastic in Spanish: Pistacia lentiscus
mastic in Esperanto: Lentisko
mastic in French: Pistachier lentisque
mastic in Italian: Pistacia lentiscus
mastic in Kurdish: Benîştek
mastic in Hebrew: אלת המסטיק
mastic in Lithuanian: Mastika
mastic in Dutch: Mastiekboom
mastic in Japanese: マスティック・ガム
mastic in Norwegian: Mastik
mastic in Polish: Mastyks
mastic in Slovak: Mastix
mastic in Finnish: Mastiksipistaasi
mastic in Swedish: Mastixbuske
mastic in Vietnamese: Nhũ hương
mastic in Turkish: Sakız ağacı
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