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Medicinal Mastiha

Updated: Jan 31

By J.Maxine MacGwyre, Licensed Aesthetician, Nutrition Specialist 12/26/2023

· What is Mastiha?

Mastiha, also known as mastic, is a potent natural anti-bacterial resin that is secreted by the Chios Mastiha Tree, much like syrup from Maple Trees. The medicinal properties of Mastiha have been known anecdotally for over 2,500 years. It has a long history of use in oral health, not only to freshen breath, but to fight plaque and soothe dental pain. Because of the oral connection, the word masticate (chew), directly influenced the name of the resin. It has also been used as a traditional remedy for a sour stomach. Modern herbalism utilizes Mastiha extract as an expectorant for bronchial troubles, coughs and as a cure for diarrhea. As with many ancient remedies, current scientific evidence supports the anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, soothing, healing, analgesic, anti-tussive, carminative, diuretic, odontalgic and sedative properties of Mastic extracts. That said, Mastiha has no less than 60 medicinal purposes!

Where does Mastiha come from?

The Mediterranean island of Chios, nestled between the Greek and Turkish coasts, is the solitary home of the rare Mastiha Tree which produces the potent resin known by the same name. The Mastiha Tree grows throughout the Mediterranean, however, it is only on Chios that the Mastiha Tree produces the resin in drops or “tears” that dry when exposed to the air creating Mastiha. These drops of resin are known as the “Tears of Chios”. Even more significant, that only on Chios does this dripping sap contain a myriad of health benefits that were discovered in ancient times.

There are 24 villages in southern Chios that are collectively known as Mastihohoria, or “Mastic Villages.” Historically, mastic resin was considered so valuable the villages were protected with fortress-like walls; absent of doorways and windows, only penetrable by ladder. To the residents, then and now, Mastiha is life. Production involves the entire community and requires attention throughout the entire year. In the winter, the trees are fertilized, and branches sculpted with deliberate care, pruning into a specific shape to ensure circulation of air and light. In the late spring and early summer, the soil surrounding the trunks of the tree is cleaned and leveled in a circular pattern to create a smooth surface for the mastic resin “tear drops” to fall.

In late Summer, the most crucial stage in Mastiha production begins. Small, shallow incisions are cut into the bark with a sharp iron tool called a Kentitiri. This practice begins from the bottom of the trunk, where the thickest drops will fall, working upwards to the main branches. The trees initiate a natural response of healing themselves with the mastic tear resin, to protect the incision from disease or predatory insects. The arid Mediterranean air dries the tears, a process that takes about 15-20 days. They then fall to the ground where they are gathered by hand. The bead-like resin is then put into wooden boxes, stored in cool places before it is carefully cleaned for processing. If it rains any time before the resin is gathered, the resin will dissolve, and that year’s harvest is lost.

How does Mastiha benefit the skin?

In the Mastic Tree, the resin works to heal a wound created in the bark (it’s skin), protecting it from external damage and assault. But how does adding such a strong anti-bacterial substance provide skincare benefits for us? It has the potential to strengthen and calm all skin types, brighten all skin tones, and rejuvenate aging skin. Because of its antiseptic qualities, mastic effectively fights pimple-causing bacteria on the skin. Additionally, Mastic contains antiviral properties that have been proven to treat herpes simplex, cold sores, aiding the skin with a healthy immune response, reducing topical irritation and redness, while enhancing wound healing.

Lira Clinical was the first to incorporate Mastiha, MASQ-tech ™, into skincare products. The owners of Lira Clinical are from Greece and were intimately familiar with the resin’s benefits. They created the Mystiq luxury illumination line to bring out the radiance in your skin with all natural and exclusive MASQ-tech™ skin brightening technology, orange plant stem cells, and powerful botanical antioxidants. This line can be used to compliment other product lines offered by Lira Clinical

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