Traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology of Chios mastic gum (Pistacia lentiscus var. Chia, Anacardiaceae): A review

J Ethnopharmacol. 2020 May 23:254:112485. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2019.112485. Epub 2020 Feb 22.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Chios mastic gum constitutes a unique Greek product, produced exclusively in the southern part of the island of Chios. References about its use from local populations for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders or as a cosmetic agent can even be encountered in ancient texts of Galen, Theophrastus and Dioscorides. Nowadays, this versatile resin has been rediscovered, not only as a traditional remedy and aromatic agent, but as a potent phytotherapeutic product with various biological properties.

Aim of the study: The aim of this study is to quote the summation of the ethnopharmacology, phytochemical profile and pharmacological properties of the resin of Pistacia lentiscus var. Chia and thus provide the scientific community with a summary of the research conducted so far. Furthermore, perspectives and uses are being discussed and studied so as to broaden the field of its applications.

Materials and methods: A comprehensive review of the literature on Pistacia lentiscus var. Chia was performed using as resources scientific databases such as Scopus, Sciencedirect, Pubmed and Web of science, studies and traditional books provided by the Chios Mastiha Growers Association as well as PhD and Master' s theses.

Results: Chios mastic gum has been used as a traditional medicine over the last 2500 years. More than 120 chemical compounds have been identified in the resin and the major components are a natural polymer, acidic and neutral triterpenes and volatile secondary metabolites. Several plant extracts and compounds have been studied for their antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-ulcer, anti-diabetic, cardioprotective and anti-cancer properties in vitro and in vivo. Clinical interventions and trials have also showed the therapeutic potential of Chios mastic gum. In 2015 Pistacia lentiscus L., resin (mastic) was recognized as a herbal medicinal product with traditional use by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) with two therapeutic indications (mild dyspeptic disorders & skin inflammation/healing of minor wounds). Over the last years, Chios mastic gum is widely involved in medicinal products, food supplements and cosmetics and has become object of study, also in the field of Pharmacotechnology.

Conclusions: Chios mastic's beneficial properties have been demonstrated in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders, wound healing, skin inflammations, plasma lipid and blood sugar reduction and oral care. These properties are attributed to triterpenes and volatile compounds. However, because of the resin's chemical complexity and the lack of commercial standards for its main compounds, there is a notable gap in literature concerning the biological evaluation of CMG's isolated components. Therefore, future research should focus on the development of efficient extraction, isolation and analysis techniques in order to unravel CMG's full pharmacological potential.

Keywords: Chios mastic gum; Isomasticadienonic acid; Masticadienonic acid; Pistacia lentiscus var. chia, plant resin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dyspepsia / drug therapy*
  • Greece
  • Humans
  • Mastic Resin / pharmacology*
  • Mastic Resin / therapeutic use*
  • Phytochemicals / pharmacology*
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Pistacia / chemistry*
  • Wound Healing / drug effects*


  • Mastic Resin
  • Phytochemicals