Mastic Gum: The Medicinal Gum
Historically, mastic gum has been used for thousands of years to treat a number of ailments. As there is an increasing trend in incorporating natural remedies to either supplement or replace antibiotics and other pharmaceutical treatments, mastic gum has been found to exhibit useful health benefits that can be applied to a number of illnesses.
To be specific, individuals suffering from gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn’s disease, H. Pylori infection, chronic ulcer diseases like ulcerative colitis (UC), and acid reflux.
In this article, we will review the benefits of mastic gum, how it can be used for h pylori and other illnesses, and any side effects you need to be aware of.
What is Mastic Gum?
Derived from the Pistacia lentiscus tree that is only found on the Greek Island of Chios, which is why this natural resin is often referred to as “Chios mastic gum.1” To collect mastic gum from the tree, growers will scar the bark to initiate a defense mechanism in which the tree produces “tears.” While these resin tears will first appear in the form of a liquid, they are then dried either through processing techniques or as a result of exposure to heat from the sun, transforming this liquid into a hard, brittle, and translucent resin that can be chewed for medicinal purposes.
Historically, people living in Mediterranean areas surrounding where the Pistachio tree typically grows have used this natural product to treat gastrointestinal ailments for thousands of years. While the Genoese empire (1304-1566) and other rulers often offered citizens protection from pirates2 in exchange for mastic gum, many villagers often grew this plant extract to dry grains and incorporate mastic gum into other aspects of their daily diet.
Mastic Gum Benefits
Mastic has been used in medicine since ancient times and is still used today because of the amazing health benefits it provides.
Below are a few of the main benefits mastic gum provides:
- Contains antioxidants
- Is anti-inflammatory
- Has antibacterial properties
- Has antifungal properties
- Can help digestion
- Can help kill H Pylori bacteria
- Improves dental health and freshens breath
General Uses of Mastic Gum
A majority of the health benefits associated with the use of mastic gum are attributed to the various ways in which this natural medication yields antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial effects.
Below are the specific uses mastic gum has shown positive results:
|HEALTH ISSUE||HOW MASTIC GUM HELPS||RELATED STUDIES|
330 mg of mastic gum 3 times per day for 8 weeks.
|The antioxidant effects of mastic gum have been proposed to be the mechanism by which it is able to reduce cholesterol in vitro (studies conducted on cells), in vivo (animal studies), and human studies. To determine this, researchers have found that the use of mastic gum has successfully reduced total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL; the “bad” cholesterol marker) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL; the “good” cholesterol marker) levels, as well as several other biomarkers that are typically used to assess an individual’s cholesterol.||Kertalis, A., et al. (2016)Triantafyllou, A., et al.(2007)|
5 g of mastic gum powder/day or 1.5 g of mastic gum powder 3 times per day.
|While the data is not completely conclusive on how mastic gum is capable of reducing liver damage, some studies have shown that its anti-inflammatory effects have successfully reduced certain levels of liver enzymes that are damage indicators. These studies have been performed on humans (a study that has shown both the beneficial effects of mastic gum on improving cardiovascular and liver health) as well as diabetic mice, where mastic gum reduces the liver damage that is often seen in individuals who suffer from diabetes.||Triantafyllou, A., et al.(2007)Tzani, A., et al. (2016)|
Chew a piece of mastic gum three times a day or after each meal, for a total of five minutes of chewing per piece.
|The presence of certain types of bacteria such as Mutans streptococci and Lactobacilli in saliva has been associated with an increased amount of cavities. The use of mastic gum for as little as three weeks has been shown to drastically reduce acidity levels within the mouth, as well as the presence of these bacteria within the saliva.||Biria, M., et al. (2014)|
250 mg of mastic gum capsules 4 times per day.
|Any type of allergic reaction promotes inflammatory reactions to occur within the body therefore, the anti-inflammatory effects of mastic gum have been shown to reduce the inflammatory responses associated with allergic asthma. These responses include reducing the amount of swelling present within the trachea, or airway, the presence of inflammatory cells (eosinophils) as well as hyperresponsiveness, which is a term used to describe when someone experiences an asthma attack that ultimately prevents their ability to regain control of their breathing.||Qiao, J., et al.(2011)|
|Prostate Cancer||The normal development and maintenance of the prostate depend upon a molecule known as androgen, and how it is able to bind to androgen receptors (AR) within the body. Therefore, when there is too much androgen present within the prostate or the AR receptor is not functioning well and is overexpressed, which means that is binding too much. One study demonstrated that when mastic gum was applied to prostate cancer cells, it was able to reduce the expression of AR, thereby inhibiting the development of prostate cancer in these cells.||He, M. L., et al. (2006)|
Mastic Gum for H Pylori & Ulcers
When Helicobacter pylori (H. Pylori) bacteria enters the body through contaminated food, water or utensils, it attacks the lining of the stomach that is responsible for protecting us against the acid in the stomach that we need to digest food. The presence of H. Pylori within the stomach causes an infection known as gastritis.
Additionally, without a proper barrier separating acid from the walls of the stomach, ulcers can develop within the stomach and cause a number of issues including bleeding and perforation, which is the development of hole(s) in the stomach3.
As we have already stated, mastic gum is known for its antibacterial properties, therefore its use to treat infections like H. Pylori makes sense, especially because when you ingest the gum or powder it will directly enter the stomach where this bacteria is present during infection.
In fact, a number of clinical studies have shown that when patients with H. Pylori infection were given mastic gum for a certain time duration, they were able to see an improvement in their symptoms. As antibiotic resistance is becoming an important issue when tackling infections like H. Pylori, the use of natural remedies like mastic gum can make a big difference in treatment options for patients.
Some of these studies include:
|DOSE OF MASTIC GUM GIVEN||TIME DURATION OF TREATMENT||RESULTS||REFERENCE|
|1 g of mastic gum once a day||2 weeks||80% of patients with duodenal ulcers experienced symptom relief; endoscopies also showed that 70% of patients showed some healing following treatment||Al-Habbal, M. J., et al.(1984)|
Group A: 350 mg of pure mastic gum/3 times a dayGroup B: 1.05 g of pure mastic gum/3 times a day
Group C: antibiotic (pantoprazole) + 250 mg of pure mastic gum/3 times a day
Group A: 4/13 patients with H. pylori infection healedGroup B: 5/13 patients with H. pylori infection healed
Group C: No patients with H. pylori infection healed
|Dabos, K. J., et al. (2010)|
Mastic Gum Dosage for H. Pylori
In each of the studies above it was shown that taking a small amount of mastic gum to kill H. pylori was very effective. Most of the studies that had positive results used 1 g of mastic gum per day for 2 weeks. If you’re going to take mastic gum for H. pylori use the researched dosage of 1g per day for 14 days.
Mastic Gum for Inflammatory Bowel Disease
The use of a number of different types of herbal therapies to treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and other related gastrointestinal issues has become increasingly popular around the world. Some of the most promising results have been shown when people with IBD use mastic gum, tormentil extracts, aloe vera, triticum aestivum, germinated barley foodstuff, and boswellia serrate4.
The following table describes some case studies in which mastic gum has proven efficacious for the treatment of the specified gastrointestinal disorder.
|GI DISORDER||MASTIC GUM TREATMENT||TIME DURATION OF TREATMENT||RESULTS||REFERENCE|
|CD||6 caps (0.37 mg mastic gum/cap) – total of 2.2 g per day||4 weeks||Several biomarkers of CD were found to be reduced with mastic gum treatment. Additionally, patients were found to have improved stool production and consistency, reduce abdominal pain/cramping, and an improved sense of well being.||Kaliora, A. C., et al. (2007)|
|Dyspepsia (Indigestion)||350 mg of mastic gum/3 times a day||3 weeks||Severity of stomach and abdominal pain, as well as heartburn symptoms reduced.||Konstantinos, J. D., et al. (2010)|
Additionally, it is also important to note that patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or acid reflux, have been shown to respond positively to mastic gum treatment, which is attributed to the anti-inflammatory properties of mastic gum.
Mastic Gum Side Effects
While mastic gum typically does not cause many harmful side effects, its use has been associated with causing headache, an upset stomach, and dizziness in some patients.
To minimize these effects, it is recommended that when you are starting to take mastic gum that you begin with the lowest possible dose and gradually increase your daily intake to the full dose.
It is also important to note that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are advised not to take mastic gum.
Mastic Chewing Gum
Besides using mastic gum in supplement form for treating certain digestive ailments it can also be chewed in the form of gum for its dental benefits. The ancient Greeks especially enjoyed chewing mastic gum.
Greek women prized mastic gum for helping clean their teeth and sweeten their breath. We now know that mastic gum has antibacterial properties that help control tooth damage, bad breath, and plaque in the mouth.
You’ve got to try some mastic gum from Chios, Greece. It’s a healthy, cool, unique alternative to sugary chewing gum. Just think about the fun you’ll have explained to your friends when they ask you what you’re chomping on! Check out mastic gum with the link below.
General Mastic Gum Dosage
If you’re using mastic gum for any health issue like H pylori, digestive problems, or GERD you’ll want to take it in capsule form so it can work in your stomach and digestive tract.
All of the studies done using mastic gum have shown positive effects in very small dosages.
The main dosage used is below:
- 1g daily (1000 mg) divided into 2 doses taken between meals
- Take for 14 days. For stubborn cases, you can take for 4 weeks
Where Can I Buy Mastic Gum?
Real mastic gum comes from Chios, Greece where the special resin that creates mastic gum is harvested. It’s important to make sure the gum you buy is real. Below are a few of the best mastic gum supplements you can buy online.
Allergy Research Mastica
Jarrows Formula Mastic Gum