Mastic gum is a spice that is produced on the Greek island of Chios in the Aegean Sea. In Hebrew, the word mastic means gum.
Mastic gum is the sticky, resinous, yellow to white sap of the Pistacia lentiscus tree, a member of the pistachio family that grows up to 13 feet tall.
During the summer, the trees are cut so they bleed their sap onto the ground. The gum is then collected, hand washed and left to dry in the sun.
The European Union (EU) recognizes Chios' exclusive right to mastic gum production by granting them Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) rights.
Mastic gum has culinary, cosmetic and medicinal uses. It is chewed as a gum; used in liquor, desserts, cheese and bread; is an ingredient in toothpaste, lotion and perfume; and is believed to possess healing powers.
Researchers at Nottingham University tested mastic gum as a treatment for ulcers and found that if one gram is taken daily for two weeks, peptic ulcers are reduced.