|INCI: ||Pistacia lentiscus|
|Flavouring according to EC regulation 1334/2008|
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GREEK MASTICPistacia lentiscus (Anacardiacee)
Origin: Greece (Kios)
Pistacia lentiscus is an evergreen shrub that is native to Mediterranean scrubland. When its bark is cut, it secretes a viscous sap that hardens in contact with the atmosphere: the result is the natural gum resin known as mastic, a precious substance that was widely traded in the bazaars of the ancient world.
The whole tree gives off a strongly resinous fragrance. Originally from the Mediterranean basin (especially the islands of the northeast Aegean), it's now found in Portugal and the Canary islands too. It grows to a height of three metres and has leathery leaves, small reddish flowers and pink heartwood.
The essential oil is obtained by steam distillation of the resin. The yield is extremely low, and production is a time-consuming process, making mastic oil a very costly commodity. It is a light yellow liquid with a woody, balmy, vaguely piney fragrance. It combines well with the essential oils of Black pepper, Frankincense, Lavender, Ravensara and with all citrus and floral oils.
popular herbalist tradition)
Other than its use in perfumes, mastic resin was traditionally burned (like frankincense, and normally along with it) for the balsamic and purifying qualities of its fumes. As it's also beneficial for the oral cavity (as an anti-septic and a natural breath freshener), it was also used as a natural chewing gum. It's still used as an ingredient in Middle Eastern confectionery.
Essential oil of mastic is totally non-toxic and non-irritant. It has antimicrobial (disinfectant), expectorant, anti-septic and stimulant properties. It's an excellent remedy for eczema and skin sores, and is also highly effective as an anti-helminthic.
It's used in dentistry and as a scent component in fine fragrances, a use which has made it highly sought-after for centuries. More rarely, it's used in the formulations of bath products, lotions and luxury soaps.