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Introduction to Chios Mastiha

Introduction to Chios Mastiha

Chios Mastiha (Chios Gum Mastic) is a natural resin obtained from the Pistacia lentiscus var. Chia, a tree which is uniquely cultivated in the southern regions of the Aegean island of Chios, Greece. This unique product is obtained by scratching and scoring the trunk and branches of the tree with a sharp tool. This process releases the Chios Mastiha resin tears which slowly dry, thicken and crystallise.

In the 5th century BC Hippocrates recommended Chios Mastiha for its medicinal qualities as well as being an excellent digestive and breath freshener. Dioscorides, well known as the father of pharmacology, praised the therapeutic properties of Chios Mastiha, mentioning that it helps in cases of indigestion. From the 1st through to the 7th century AD Chios Mastiha was used for the treatment of stomach disorders. Translations of ancient medical texts into Latin contributed to the introduction of Chios Mastiha into European pharmacology. As of the 15th century, Chios Mastiha was regularly included in medicinal formulas.

The cultivation, collection and processing of Chios Mastiha is a year-round process. Preparation for collection of the Chios Mastiha resin tears occurs in June. First the ground beneath the trees is methodically cleaned. It is then spread with argil, a white powdered stone. July marks the start of kentima, this is when the trunk and main branches are incised with a sharp pointed tool, resulting in the release of the precious Chios Mastiha tears which drop to the carefully prepared ground and are left to crystallise for 15 to 20 days, ready for collection.

Collection is completed in September, after which starts the painstaking process of cleaning which takes many months. The entire cleaning and production process is free of all chemicals and additives and has remained unchanged throughout the centuries. The primitive tools and cleaning methods, the producers’ garments, and the medieval settlements in Southern Chios, combined with the virtually untouched natural environment of the region, are undeniable proof of the historical significance of this product. In recognition of its uniqueness, Chios Mastiha has been granted Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status in the European Union, and included on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

In addition to the rich history of traditional use, modern research is now verifying many of the traditional uses of Chios Mastiha. Chios Mastiha has been shown to have antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activity, and it is the subject of more than 150 published research articles.

Recent human clinical studies have shown that Chios Mastiha can be beneficial in a broad range of digestive diseases, from heartburn and stomach pain in patients suffering from functional dyspepsia, through to Crohn’s disease, Helicobacterpylori infection and prevention of stomach ulcers.

The European Medicines Agency has recently issued a Herbal Monograph for Chios Mastiha for traditional use in mild dyspeptic disorders, and for the symptomatic treatment of minor inflammations of the skin and as an aid in healing of minor wounds. Chios Mastiha is approved for use in complementary medicines in Australia with no dosage restrictions.

Known uses of Mastiha:

• Used in mild dyspeptic disorders
• For symptomatic treatment of minor inflammations of the skin
• As an aid in healing of minor wounds
• Relief of stomach disorders
• Contributes to the hygiene of the gastrointestinal system
• Used additionally in daily nutrition

 

Author: The Chios Mastiha Growers Association Website: www.gummastic.gr/en/

Pathway International is the exclusive distributor for Chios Mastiha in Australia and New Zealand.

For more information please contact us on:
Phone: 02 9984 2700
E-mail: sales@pathway.net.au
Website: www.pathway.net.au