Mastic gum is a viscous light-green liquid obtained from the bark of Pistacia lentiscus Var. chia, which belongs to the Anacardiaceae family. Historically, trunk exudates of Pistachia lentiscus (mastic gum) have been used for the treatment of stomach ulcers. Archaeologists in 1982 found a late Bronze Age shipwreck with 100 jars filled with mastic that had been used by the Egyptians for medicinal purposes. The ancient Greek physicians Galenus in “Simpliciun medicamemtorum temperamentis ac faculatibus libri XI” and Dioscorides in “De Materia Medica” have described the properties and usage of mastic oil. The Persian pharmacist, physician and philosopher Avicenna (980-1037) prescribed mastic gum for abdominal pain, heartburn and topological infections. The Arab physician Ibn Al-Baytar, living in the 13th century, prescribed mastic gum for upper abdominal pain, heartburn, gastric and intestinal ulcers. The genus Pistachia from the Anacardiaceae family consists of eleven species of trees found in some Mediterranean countries and in Southern and Central America. Substantial work has been done on characterising the chemical composition of Pistachia lentiscus and some other species which are widely distributed in the Mediterranean and the Zagros Mountains, particularly in Western and Northern Iran, and Eastern and Northern Iraq.
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