7- Amazing Benefits of Mastic Gum and Considerations for Use

Mastic gum, a resin obtained from the mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus), has been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine, particularly in the Mediterranean region. Known for its distinct aromatic scent and therapeutic properties, mastic gum has garnered attention for its potential health benefits. This blog post delves into the benefits, risks, and considerations of using mastic gum.

Mastic gum’s use dates back to ancient Greece and the Ottoman Empire, where it was cherished for its medicinal properties and used as a natural chewing gum. Historically, it was believed to aid in digestion, improve oral health, and even act as an aphrodisiac. The island of Chios in Greece remains the primary source of this unique resin, and the cultivation techniques have been passed down through generations.

Benefits of Mastic Gum

Digestive Health

Mastic gum has long been celebrated for its beneficial effects on digestive health. Here are some specific ways it supports the digestive system:

  • Relief from Dyspepsia: Dyspepsia, commonly known as indigestion, can cause discomfort and pain in the upper abdomen. Mastic gum has been shown to provide relief from these symptoms. In a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology1, participants who consumed mastic gum reported significant improvement in their dyspeptic symptoms compared to those who took a placebo. The exact mechanism is not entirely understood, but it is believed that mastic gum may help to regulate gastric acid secretion and protect the stomach lining from irritation.
  • Helicobacter pylori Eradication: Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacterium that infects the stomach lining and is associated with various gastrointestinal disorders, including peptic ulcers and gastric cancer. Mastic gum has been found to possess antibacterial properties that can inhibit the growth of H. pylori. Research published in Phytomedicine2 demonstrated that mastic gum effectively reduced H. pylori levels, suggesting it could be a natural adjunct therapy for managing H. pylori-related conditions. This is particularly valuable as antibiotic resistance among H. pylori strains becomes a growing concern.
  • Ulcer Prevention and Healing: Mastic gum’s ability to combat H. pylori and its anti-inflammatory properties contribute to its potential role in preventing and healing gastric and duodenal ulcers. By reducing bacterial load and inflammation, mastic gum can help protect the mucosal lining of the stomach and intestines, promoting healing and preventing the formation of ulcers.

Oral Health

Mastic gum’s impact on oral health is multifaceted, encompassing several benefits:

  • Antibacterial Effects: Chewing mastic gum can help reduce the levels of harmful bacteria in the mouth, particularly Streptococcus mutans, which is a primary contributor to tooth decay. A study in the Archives of Oral Biology3 found that mastic gum significantly decreased S. mutans levels, which can help prevent cavities and promote healthier teeth.
  • Improvement of Breath: Mastic gum’s natural aromatic properties help freshen breath. Its antibacterial action reduces the presence of odor-causing bacteria in the mouth, making it an effective natural remedy for halitosis (bad breath).
  • Gum Health: The anti-inflammatory properties of mastic gum also extend to the gums. Regular use can help reduce inflammation and swelling associated with gingivitis, a common gum disease. This can lead to healthier gums and a reduced risk of periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease that can result in tooth loss.

Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant Properties

Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress are underlying factors in many diseases. Mastic gum’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties can help mitigate these processes:

  • Reduction of Inflammation: Mastic gum contains compounds such as triterpenes, which have been shown to possess significant anti-inflammatory effects. These compounds can inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and enzymes, thereby reducing inflammation in the body. This is beneficial for conditions like arthritis, where chronic inflammation plays a central role.
  • Antioxidant Activity: Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body, leading to cell damage and contributing to aging and various diseases. The antioxidant compounds in mastic gum can neutralize free radicals, protecting cells from oxidative damage. A study in the Journal of Medicinal Food4 highlighted mastic gum’s potent antioxidant properties, suggesting it could help protect against chronic diseases related to oxidative stress.

Respiratory Health

Mastic gum has traditional uses in treating respiratory conditions, and modern research supports some of these claims:

  • Anti-inflammatory Effects on Airways: The anti-inflammatory properties of mastic gum can help reduce inflammation in the airways, which is beneficial for conditions like asthma and bronchitis. By decreasing airway inflammation, mastic gum may help improve breathing and reduce symptoms like coughing and wheezing.
  • Antimicrobial Action: Mastic gum’s antimicrobial properties can help fight respiratory infections caused by bacteria and fungi. This can be particularly useful in managing infections that exacerbate chronic respiratory conditions.

Skin Health

Mastic gum’s benefits extend to skincare, where its properties can help improve skin health and appearance:

  • Acne Treatment: Mastic gum’s antimicrobial properties can help reduce acne-causing bacteria on the skin, making it an effective natural remedy for acne. Its anti-inflammatory effects can also help reduce redness and swelling associated with acne lesions.
  • Wound Healing: Preliminary research suggests that mastic gum may promote wound healing. It can help reduce inflammation and protect against infection, creating a conducive environment for the skin to heal. This makes it a valuable ingredient in topical formulations for cuts, abrasions, and other minor skin injuries.
  • Skin Aging: The antioxidant properties of mastic gum can help protect the skin from oxidative stress and environmental damage, which are major contributors to skin aging. By neutralizing free radicals, mastic gum can help maintain skin elasticity and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Cardiovascular Health

Emerging research suggests that mastic gum may have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health:

  • Cholesterol Levels: Some studies have indicated that mastic gum can help reduce levels of total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides, while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol. This lipid-modulating effect can help reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, a condition characterized by the buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries.
  • Anti-inflammatory Effects: Chronic inflammation is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. By reducing inflammation, mastic gum can help protect the cardiovascular system and reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Blood Pressure Regulation: Mastic gum may also help regulate blood pressure. Its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties can improve endothelial function, which is essential for maintaining healthy blood vessels and blood pressure levels.

Metabolic Health

Mastic gum may also support metabolic health and help manage conditions like diabetes and obesity:

  • Blood Sugar Regulation: Preliminary studies suggest that mastic gum can help regulate blood sugar levels. By improving insulin sensitivity and reducing oxidative stress, mastic gum may help manage diabetes and prevent complications associated with the disease.
  • Weight Management: The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of mastic gum can support overall metabolic health, making it easier to manage weight. Additionally, mastic gum’s potential effects on lipid profiles can help prevent obesity-related complications.

Risks and Considerations

While mastic gum offers numerous health benefits, it is essential to consider potential risks and side effects. Here, we delve into these considerations in greater detail.

Allergic Reactions

As with any natural product, some individuals may experience allergic reactions to mastic gum. Allergic reactions can range from mild to severe, and understanding these risks is crucial:

  • Mild Reactions: Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction to mastic gum may include itching, rash, hives, and minor swelling. These symptoms are generally manageable but should be monitored closely. Individuals with a history of allergies, particularly to tree resins, may be at higher risk for reacting to mastic gum .
  • Severe Reactions: In rare cases, mastic gum can cause severe allergic reactions such as difficulty breathing, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat, and anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention. If you have a known allergy to mastic gum or related substances, it is best to avoid its use entirely. 

Gastrointestinal Issues

While mastic gum is generally considered safe and beneficial for digestive health, excessive consumption can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort:

  • Bloating and Gas: Overconsumption of mastic gum may cause bloating and gas. This is particularly true if the gum is chewed in large amounts, as swallowing excess air can contribute to these symptoms. While mastic gum can relieve symptoms of dyspepsia in moderate doses, excessive use can have the opposite effect, leading to discomfort .
  • Diarrhea: Ingesting large amounts of mastic gum may lead to diarrhea. This is likely due to its natural laxative effects when consumed in significant quantities. It is crucial to adhere to recommended dosages and monitor your body’s response to avoid such adverse effects.

Interactions with Medications

Mastic gum may interact with certain medications, particularly those metabolized by the liver. It is essential to understand these interactions to avoid potential complications:

  • Liver Metabolism: Mastic gum contains compounds that can affect the liver’s enzyme activity, potentially altering the metabolism of certain medications. For example, medications such as statins (used to lower cholesterol) and certain antihypertensive drugs are metabolized by the liver.  Mastic gum may influence liver enzyme activity, which might affect the pharmacokinetics of these drugs .
  • Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Medications: If you are taking medications for high blood pressure or cholesterol, it is crucial to consult your healthcare provider before incorporating mastic gum into your routine. The interaction could potentially alter the effectiveness of these medications or increase the risk of side effects.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

There is limited research on the safety of mastic gum during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Due to the lack of comprehensive studies, it is essential to exercise caution:

  • Pregnancy: The effects of mastic gum on pregnant women and fetal development have not been thoroughly studied. As a precaution, pregnant women are advised to avoid using mastic gum until more definitive research is available. The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology5 suggests that pregnant women should avoid herbal supplements with insufficient safety data .
  • Breastfeeding: Similarly, the safety of mastic gum for breastfeeding mothers and infants is not well-established. It is advisable for breastfeeding women to avoid using mastic gum or consult their healthcare provider before use to ensure it does not pose a risk to the infant.

Quality Control and Contaminants

The quality and purity of mastic gum products can vary significantly, and it is essential to consider potential contaminants:

  • Product Purity: Ensure that you purchase mastic gum from reputable sources that guarantee the product’s purity. Adulteration with other resins or additives can affect its safety and efficacy. The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry6 reported instances of mastic gum adulteration, underscoring the importance of quality control .
  • Contaminants: Mastic gum may be contaminated with heavy metals or other harmful substances if not properly processed. Selecting products that have been tested for contaminants can help mitigate this risk.

To maximize the benefits and minimize the risks of mastic gum, consider the following guidelines:

  1. Quality and Purity
    Ensure that you purchase high-quality mastic gum from reputable sources. Look for products that are 100% pure and free from additives or contaminants. The authenticity of Chios mastic gum is particularly prized for its quality.
  2. Dosage and Administration
    Follow the recommended dosage instructions provided on the product label or by your healthcare provider. Mastic gum is available in various forms, including capsules, powder, and chewing gum. Choose the form that best suits your needs and preferences.
  3. Consultation with Healthcare Provider
    Before starting any new supplement, including mastic gum, it is essential to consult your healthcare provider, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications. They can provide personalized advice and monitor for potential interactions or side effects.

Mastic gum offers a range of potential health benefits, from improving digestive health and oral hygiene to reducing inflammation and promoting skin health. However, like any natural remedy, it is essential to use it with caution and be aware of potential risks and side effects. By following recommended guidelines and consulting with a healthcare provider, you can safely incorporate mastic gum into your wellness routine and enjoy its many benefits.

Michael Brown in Lab Coat with arms crossed

Michael J. Brown, RPh, BCPS, BCPP

Mr. Brown is a Clinical Pharmacist specializing in pharmacotherapy and psychiatry.

Read Michael’s story here.

Feel free to send Michael a message using this link.


Disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click on, or make a purchase through a third-party link.