Mastic gum is a resin that comes from the mastic tree, or sap-like substance. The mastic tree is an evergreen shrub growing on Chios, the Greek island.
For centuries people have been using mastic gum for its medicinal properties. The first known reference to the mastic gum actually dates back to the 5th century BC. Some evidence suggests that the mastic gum is an antioxidant with antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
A person may chew mastic gum like normal chewing gum or may ingest it in the form of capsules or powder. Also available is essential oil made from mastic gum.
No studies have proven that any condition can be treated with mastic gum. That said, there is some evidence suggesting it could help with issues such as stomach upset and dental cavities.
Mastic gum has low potential for serious side effects. People should nevertheless ask a doctor before using mastic or any other natural supplements.
Learn more about the uses and benefits of mastic gum, and some potential risks, in this article.
Uses and benefits of mastic gum
People are using mastic gum for a range of health reasons. Although studies on it were generally small, it holds promise as a treatment for conditions of digestive and oral health. Its effects on antioxidants can also be beneficial for conditions such as heart disease and cancer.
Experts need more extensive human studies on mastic gum, however, before they can recommend it as a treatment for serious health problems.
Some possible uses and health benefits for mastic gum are as follows:
Protecting dental health
One study in 2007 found that chewing mastic gum could help prevent cavities. People who chewed mastic gum have had lower levels of certain bacteria in their mouths after 15 minutes. Within 135 minutes, the bacteria levels were even lower. Not one placebo delivered the same results.
Another study in 20 dental students found that those who chewed mastic gum in their mouth had lower levels of certain bacteria. These bacteria can cause plaque disease and gum disease.
Those who wish to use mastic gum for reasons of dental health may chew it for at least 15 minutes, several times a day.
Reducing stomach pain and heartburn
Mastic gum may help with some digestive disorders.
For example, one study found that there was an improvement in certain types of indigestion and stomach pain among those who used mastic gum. In general, they had less stomach pain, and less anxiety pain in the stomach. They reported less heartburn, as well.
The study people were taking 350 milligrams (mg) of mastic gum three times a day.
Soothing stomach ulcers
Mastic gum can also help to treat stomach ulcer symptoms, or peptic ulcers.
An older study in 38 individuals found that mastic gum could improve stomach ulcer symptoms. Those who took 1 gram (g) of mastic per day, after 2 weeks, reported a reduction in ulcer symptoms. People who have taken a placebo have not reported that benefit.
Research suggests that taking 1 g of mastic per day, divided into three doses, can soothe stomach ulcer-related symptoms.
Reducing Helicobacter pylori bacteria in the stomach
Older studies have found antibacterial capabilities against H in the mastic gum. Yeah, pylori. For example, a 2010 study found that the mastic gum was clear with H. 14 days later, pylori infections are better than placebo.
Another article states mastic gum is capable of killing H. Pylori, but that studies didn’t show it could clear an H. Totally infected with pylori.
Researchers tested mastic gum in another study, in the form of an essential oil against H. Yeah, pylori. The oil did have antibacterial effects on certain H strains. The pylori are antibiotic resistant. However, researchers found those effects in a laboratory— not in humans.
People wishing to use mastic gum to help with ulcer symptoms may try to take 350 mg three times a day. Studies show that those who took those amounts had no serious side effects
Soothing inflammatory bowel disease
Some evidence suggests that mastic gum can also help with inflammatory diseases of the intestine (IBD), such as the disease of Crohn. One review notes that in people who had active illness, mastic gum improved some markers of Crohn’s disease.
Another study of 60 people with IBD found that after 3 months, those who were taking mastic gum had significant improvements in their IBD markers. The study people were taking 2.8 g of mastic per day.
Controlling cholesterol and blood sugar levels
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), having high cholesterol and high blood sugar levels can increase the risk of cardiac disease and type 2 diabetes. Some small studies suggest that mastic gum could help individuals improve their both levels.
For example, a study in 156 healthy volunteers found that those who used mastic gum had lower total cholesterol and lower blood sugar after 8 weeks.
330 mg of crude mastic gum was taken three times a day by volunteers who saw an improvement in cholesterol and blood sugar. Those who did take placebo or polymer-free mastic and mastic powder had no improvement.
Another small study of healthy Japanese males found that, after 6 months, those who took 5 g of mastic powder per day had lower triglyceride and insulin levels. The biggest improvement was for those who took the mastic powder and exercised three times per week.
A person should work with his or her doctor to maintain healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Some research suggests that a dosage of 330 mg, three times a day, may be effective for those who wish to try mastic gum as a supplement.
Potentially fighting cancer
Some early research suggests that mastic oil might help combat certain cancers.
According to one study, mastic oil could also help kill certain types of leukemia cells. The study cited laboratory test results but researchers have not yet tested these advantages in humans.
Mastic gum is not an approved treatment for cancer, but studies suggest it may have potential as a supplement to the fight against cancer. The usual dose for this is 1 g per day, split into three equal 330 mg doses each.
Mastic gum should never replace cancer treatments prescribed for it. If a person wishes to try mastic gum alongside their other treatments, they should talk to their doctor.
Risks and side effects
No significant or dangerous side effects have been noted in the mastic gum studies. However, children, pregnant women, and those who are breastfeeding may wish to avoid it because of the limited research.
Also, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the safety or effectiveness of mastic gum supplements. Therefore, people should exercise caution when buying mastic supplements, and use those from a reputable source only.
Mastic gum is an ancient remedy which can have certain medicinal properties.
Although studies have not shown that it can treat or cure any health conditions, the risk of toxicity and side effects appears low. This may turn mastic gum into an option for people seeking natural remedies for digestive or dental health problems.
Before taking mastic gum or essential oil, a person should talk to a doctor. Some natural supplements may interfere with certain medicines, or they may be unsafe to people with certain conditions of health.