Herbal Healer

Herbal Healer: What is mastic?

2012-12-26T21:00:00Z Herbal Healer: What is mastic?Ted PanDeva Zagar Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
December 26, 2012 9:00 pm  • 

This resinous gum exudes from cuts made in the bark of a small tree that grows in Northern Africa and among islands and countries located in the eastern Mediterranean. The tear-shaped drops of mastic gum are associated with Saint Isadoros, whose martyred body was dragged under a mastic tree. The word “masticate” issued from the ancient Greek practice of chewing this licorice-flavored resin as a gum to freshen the breath and to fight tooth decay.

What does it do?

This versatile resin has taken a fascinating journey from the bakery to the pharmacy, the church, the morgue and the perfumery—and elsewhere. Mastic is found in Turkish coffee, as well as in puddings, pastries and liqueurs. Researchers discovered that mastic can cure peptic ulcers by destroying Heliobacter pylori bacteria. By reducing the bacteria that causes tooth decay, this gum assists in the prevention of tooth decay and gingivitis when added to toothpastes and mouthwashes. A study using the excellent mastic grown only on the Greek island of Chios pointed to its ability to reduce bad cholesterol. Ancient Egyptians employed mastic during their embalming procedures, while Biblical scholars believe that bakha—derived from the Hebrew term for weeping (and, thus, the tear-shaped pieces of mastic gum)—was none other than the mastic tree. Church use for mastic includes ritual burning as a resinous incense, not unlike frankincense, and as an ingredient of chrism, a holy oil used for anointing by the various Orthodox Churches. As a varnish, mastic was used to protect and preserve photographic negatives.

About the herb

This member of the pistachio family climbs a mere twelve feet above the ground. Tree cuttings to allow mastic to exude its valuable resin is allowed in some places only between July 15 and October 15, when coagulation of the gum peaks in uniformity.

Recommended dosage

Various studies suggest that a daily dose of 5 grams of mastic powder can reduce total cholesterol in many cases. Mastic is also useful where inflammation of the bowel is present, and its role in assisting those who suffer from Crohn’s disease is nothing short of remarkable. Consider mastic products to bring relief when stomach upset strikes.

The opinions expressed are solely the writer’s. NOTE: Visit herbalastrology.com to read Ted PanDeva Zagar’s other articles and columns that discuss the benefits of herbs and natural foods. DISCLAIMER: The author’s comments are not intended to serve as medical advice, and he urges his readers to seek qualified wellness professionals to resolve matters of health.

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