Dr. Andrea Middleton - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Andrea Middleton

Is Mastic Gum Bad For You?

Also Known As: Mastiha, Mastic resin



Short answer

Mastic gum, traditionally acclaimed for various health benefits, possesses compounds with proven positive effects, such as anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. However, its safety and efficacy depend on the form and dosage taken. While generally well-tolerated, there are risks of allergic reactions, especially in individuals sensitive to plant resins. Its full impact is yet to be determined by extensive clinical trials; therefore, cautious use is recommended, considering the potential for side effects and drug interactions.



Recommended Alternative

Long answer

Components of Mastic Gum and Their Biological Effects

Mastic gum, derived from the resin of the Pistacia lentiscus tree, has been revered for its medicinal properties since ancient times. To dissect whether this natural substance poses any risk to your health, we must first scrutinize its bioactive components and their effects on the human body. Not one to take age-old claims at face value, let's delve into the science behind the supposed benefits and risks.

The primary bioactive compounds in mastic gum are terpenoids, which include a variety of substances, such as:

  • α-Pinene: Known for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Research suggests α-pinene exerts a protective effect on the gastric mucosa, which could explain some of mastic gum's traditional use in treating digestive issues (Source).
  • β-Myrcene: Another terpenoid exhibiting anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, potentially contributing to mastic gum's pain-relieving reputation.
  • Limonene: With its pronounced anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions, limonene can play a role in combating oxidative stress in the body.
  • Verbenone: An understudied terpenoid, yet its presence in mastic gum could be of interest for its potential medicinal applications.

Mastic gum is not all about terpenoids though, it also contains other compounds such as:

  • Polyphenols: Antioxidants that help in preventing cellular damage and have been studied for their potential anti-carcinogenic properties.
  • Triterpenic acids: These have been shown to exhibit antiatherogenic effects, possibly beneficial in preventing heart disease.

Analysis of mastic gum reveals that it harbors a complex matrix of constituents, each with its own potential biological effect. For instance, the triterpenic acids found within, such as oleanolic acid, have been recognized for their capacity to lower LDL cholesterol, thus offering a cardioprotective effect (Source).

But let's not swiftly jump to conclusions; it's essential to note that dosages and the form in which mastic gum is consumed greatly influence its biological effects. For example, studies have explored mastic gum's impact in various forms, ranging from its essential oil to powdered form, and the results regarding its safety and efficacy have indeed varied.

One of the critical considerations when evaluating the effects of these components is the role they play once metabolized in the human body. For example, some terpenoids have been implicated in providing gastrointestinal relief, yet, the individual's metabolic response could be the determining factor in whether these effects are beneficial or negligible.

In conclusion, while the components of mastic gum have demonstrated positive biological effects, one must exercise caution. Research is ongoing, and while historical accounts and preliminary studies provide optimism, it's crucial to wait for more extensive, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies to validate these findings and ensure the safe use of mastic gum as a supplement.

Allergic Reactions and Sensitivities to Mastic Gum

When digging into the potential hazards of mastic gum, it's essential to understand the reactivity some individuals may experience. Though mastic gum is generally safe for consumption, allergic reactions and sensitivities are not off the table. The incidences of such adverse effects are relatively rare, but recognizing them is critical for those considering mastic gum as a supplement or a natural remedy.

Allergic reactions to mastic gum can manifest in various ways, ranging from mild to severe. The symptoms might include:

  • Skin reactions such as hives, itching, or eczema
  • Respiratory issues like sneezing, coughing, nasal congestion, or asthma symptoms
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort, including bloating, gas, or diarrhea
  • In severe cases, anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening condition marked by difficulty breathing, a rapid drop in blood pressure, and dizziness or loss of consciousness

Studies specifically investigating the allergic potential of mastic gum are scant. However, a case report published in the Allergologia et Immunopathologia in 2006 detailed an instance of occupational allergic asthma from inhaling mastic gum dust in a pharmaceutical plant—a clear sign of respiratory sensitivity to the substance.

If you have a history of plant resin allergies, such as colophony (a component of pine sap), you may be at an increased risk of a sensitivity or allergic reaction to mastic gum. The resinous nature of mastic gum places it in the same category as other potential allergenic plant-derived substances. As such, caution is advised for individuals with known resin allergies, and testing for allergic reactions under medical supervision might be recommended before regular consumption.

For those with sensitivities to mastic gum, even the small amounts found in chewing gum or dental products could trigger mild symptoms. This might include oral irritation or a tingling sensation in the mouth. As sensitivity reactions tend to be dose-dependent, larger doses found in dietary supplements could exacerbate these effects.

Additives in various mastic gum products may also contribute to sensitivities. Fillers, flavorings, or other compounds designed to enhance the product's shelf life or aesthetic appeal could be potential culprits behind adverse reactions. Therefore, always scrutinize the ingredient list and opt for high-purity products.

In conclusion, while mastic gum is often well-tolerated, individuals with known allergies or sensitivities, particularly to plant resins, should proceed with caution. Consultation with a healthcare professional before beginning supplementation is sensible, especially for those with a predisposition to allergies or who've experienced adverse reactions to similar substances. Vigilance in monitoring your body's response to mastic gum can help mitigate the risk of allergic reactions and ensure safe usage.

Gastrointestinal Benefits and Risks of Mastic Gum

The dialogue around mastic gum is often rife with claims of its benefits for gastrointestinal health. Let's dissect these claims with the precision of a scientific scalpel, delving into what's proven, what's possible, and what's mere puffery.

Firstly, mastic gum has been celebrated for its potential to combat Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a bacteria implicated in the development of gastric ulcers and even stomach cancer. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that mastic gum exhibited antibacterial activity against H. pylori. Participants chewed mastic gum for two weeks, and in vitro tests revealed inhibition of bacterial growth. However, not all studies have replicated these findings consistently, and more extensive, controlled human trials are necessary before mastic gum can be crowned as a definitive treatment.

Furthermore, mastic gum has been linked to relief of digestive discomfort, including symptoms of dyspepsia. Anecdotal evidence and a few preliminary studies indicate that mastic gum may provide a soothing effect on the stomach lining, potentially aiding in the management of indigestion and inflammation. Yet caution is warranted, as most research thus far has small sample sizes and insufficient long-term data.

In addressing the potential anti-inflammatory properties, some research published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology proposes that mastic gum's triterpenoids have anti-inflammatory effects that could benefit the gastrointestinal tract's overall health. This aligns with the traditional use of mastic as a remedy for soothing stomach aches in Mediterranean cultures. However, the extrapolation from traditional use to modern-day clinical practice demands a rigorous evidence threshold — a threshold that is not yet met.

Turning our gaze to the potential risks, it's important to note that mastic gum is generally well-tolerated, but it's not without its contingencies. Though side effects are infrequent, some individuals may experience mild digestive upset, including symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, or constipation. Allergic reactions, while rare, have been documented and should be taken seriously. These reactions could present as skin rashes or respiratory issues after the ingestion or handling of mastic gum.

Those on medication for digestive issues, especially proton pump inhibitors or H2 blockers, should consult a healthcare professional before introducing mastic gum into their regimen. It's unclear how mastic may interact with these medications, and there's a vigilant necessity for professional advice in such scenarios.

Lastly, the unregulated nature of supplements, including mastic gum, underscores the importance of sourcing from reputable vendors. Lack of standardization in the supplement industry can lead to products of varying quality and potency, which can affect both the efficacy and safety outcomes for the end-user.

To sum up, while mastic gum shows promise in some aspects of gastrointestinal health, its usage is not without question marks. Consumers should judiciously weigh these benefits against the risks, armed with the knowledge that not all that gleams in the realm of herbal remedies is gold. Vigilance and further robust, scientific enquiry are the guiding stars for those navigating the complex cosmos of mastic gum's gastrointestinal impact.

Antimicrobial Properties of Mastic Gum - Myths and Facts

Mastic gum, derived from the Pistacia lentiscus tree native to the Mediterranean region, has been heralded since ancient times for its supposed health benefits. Among the many claims, its antimicrobial properties are often touted. Here, we'll dissect what the current science says to separate the substantiated facts from the lingering myths.

Fact: Mastic gum contains compounds that have been shown to exhibit antimicrobial activity. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine demonstrated that mastic gum can inhibit the growth of Helicobacter pylori, bacteria implicated in the development of stomach ulcers and gastric cancer. The active components, primarily terpenoids, appear to damage the bacterial cells and prevent them from adhering to the stomach lining.

Myth: The belief that mastic gum can cure all forms of bacterial infections is unfounded. While research has confirmed its effectiveness against certain strains of bacteria, it does not possess a broad-spectrum antibiotic effect. As such, it is not a substitute for medically prescribed antibiotics when dealing with serious bacterial infections.

Fact: Mastic gum's antimicrobial properties are not solely limited to H. pylori. Studies have also identified its potential against some fungal species and other microorganisms. However, the scope of its action and the concentration required for these effects are subjects for ongoing research.

Myth: Some proponents claim that mastic gum can replace oral hygiene practices due to its antimicrobial traits. This is a dangerous misconception. While it might have some antimicrobial activity, there is no substitute for regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups for maintaining oral health.

Fact: The use of mastic gum for improving oral hygiene is backed by some evidence. A study in the Archives of Oral Biology found that mastic gum could reduce dental plaque, which may be due to its ability to inhibit bacteria responsible for plaque formation like Streptococcus mutants.

While certain antimicrobial qualities of mastic gum are supported by science, it's crucial to consult with healthcare professionals regarding its use, particularly when dealing with infections. Dosing, safety, and potential interactions with other medications must be considered in the context of your individual health needs.

In summary, the antimicrobial properties of mastic gum have an evidence-based foundation regarding certain bacteria and fungi, but its effectiveness should not be exaggerated or misconstrued as a panacea for all microbes. The approach to using mastic gum for its antimicrobial effects should be cautious and informed by the latest scientific findings.

Potential Interactions with Medications and Other Supplements

Mastic gum, a resin obtained from the mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus), has been traditionally used in Mediterranean regions as a remedy for various ailments. However, as with any compound introduced into your system, it has the potential to interact with medications and other supplements. Let’s break down what is currently known about these interactions.

Anticoagulant and Antiplatelet Drugs

Mastic gum has been observed to potentially exhibit antiplatelet effects. Therefore, caution is advised for individuals taking anticoagulant or antiplatelet medications, such as warfarin, aspirin, or clopidogrel. The concurrent use could potentially increase the risk of bleeding or potentiate the effects of these drugs. If you're using such medications, it is imperative to consult with your healthcare provider before adding mastic gum to your regimen.

Diabetes Medications

There is some evidence suggesting that mastic gum might affect blood sugar levels. While this could be beneficial for some, it poses a risk of hypoglycemia for individuals taking diabetes medications. Medications such as insulin, metformin, and sulfonylureas may need dosage adjustments if taken alongside mastic gum. Monitoring blood glucose levels carefully and discussing with a healthcare professional before combining these treatments is vital.

Herbs and Supplements with Similar Effects

Several herbs and dietary supplements are known to have blood-thinning properties or may affect blood sugar levels. For example, garlic, ginkgo biloba, and omega-3 fatty acids all have anticoagulant properties. Similarly, cinnamon, fenugreek, and alpha-lipoic acid can impact glucose control. Combining these with mastic gum could compound their effects and lead to unwanted side effects.

Hepatotoxic Supplements and Medications

While there is limited information on the hepatotoxicity of mastic gum, it's wise to approach with caution when combining it with other supplements or medications known to affect liver function. The added stress on the liver could exacerbate potential liver damage, particularly in those with pre-existing liver conditions.

Consulting Healthcare Providers

Despite the therapeutic potential of mastic gum, the interactions with other medications and supplements can be complex and sometimes unpredictable. It is essential for individuals to consult with their healthcare providers regarding all concurrent medication and supplement use. Health professionals can provide personalized advice based on your medical history and current treatments.

Remember that while natural, not all supplements, including mastic gum, are free from side effects or interactions. Each person's physiology is unique, and what is safe for one individual may not be for another, especially when considering the myriad of possible drug-supplement interactions.

In summary, if you're considering mastic gum as a part of your health regimen, it's important to be aware of its potential interactions with medications and supplements, particularly those affecting blood coagulation, glucose levels, and liver function. Always practice due diligence and consult with healthcare practitioners to navigate your personal health landscape safely and effectively.

Frequently asked questions

While mastic gum is generally well-tolerated, some individuals may experience side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, or constipation. Allergic reactions, although rare, can occur and may present as skin rashes, respiratory issues, or, in severe cases, anaphylaxis. Individuals with known allergies to plant resins should be particularly cautious and consult a healthcare provider before consuming mastic gum.

Mastic gum should not be used as a replacement for medications prescribed for digestive disorders. While it has historical and preliminary scientific backing for use in managing certain gastrointestinal symptoms, it lacks the robust clinical evidence required to act as a standalone treatment for medical conditions. Always consult with a healthcare provider before using mastic gum as part of a treatment plan for any digestive disorder.

Some studies suggest that mastic gum may help in reducing dental plaque and exhibit antimicrobial activity against bacteria responsible for tooth decay, such as Streptococcus mutans. However, mastic gum should complement rather than replace standard oral hygiene practices like brushing, flossing, and regular dental check-ups, as it is not a substitute for comprehensive oral care.

Due to the potential for interaction, especially with anticoagulant and antiplatelet drugs, diabetes medications, and other supplements with blood-thinning or glucose-affecting properties, it's important to monitor for any side effects and consult with a healthcare provider. Careful dosage consideration and professional medical advice are critical when combining mastic gum with existing treatments.

Ask a question about Mastic Gum and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • skin reactions
  • respiratory issues
  • gastrointestinal discomfort
  • anaphylaxis
  • mild digestive upset
  • oral irritation

Ingredients to be aware of


  • anti-inflammatory
  • antimicrobial
  • anti-carcinogenic
  • antiatherogenic
  • lowers ldl cholesterol
  • combats h. pylori
  • digestive relief

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Chios Mastiha Tears Gum

  • 100% natural product
  • Sourced from Greece
  • Fresh mastic resin
  • Supports digestive health
  • Chewing gum alternative
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Joey Conners
Published on: 02-23-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Joey Conners
Published on: 02-23-2024

Random Page

Check These Out!