Mastic (Gr. from , to chew or eat, so named from the practice of chewing the substance which prevailed formerly as at present in Greece), a resinous exudation from the bark of the pistacia lentiscus, a shrub about 12 ft. high, found upon the borders of the upper Mediterranean. The drug is obtained from the island of Scio or Chios in the GreeiaD archipelago, and from northern Africa and western Asia It was known to the ancients being correctly described by Diosco-ndes and Pliny, and that from Chios being particularly recommended by Galen. It is collected during July or August, when the juice slowly exuding from the tree hardens in tears on the bark, or on cloth placed to receive it, or falls upon the ground. The best quality, known as mastic in tears, consists of tears of various sizes, pale yellow, semi-transparent, roundish, oval, or flattened, and brittle. The more ordinary kind, termed mastic in sorts, is obtained in irregular masses, mixed with bark, sand, and other impurities. Mastic has a sweet resinous odor and an aromatic taste. Alcohol dissolves about 90 per cent, of it, leaving a tenacious resin that is soluble in turpentine. Chloroform, ether, and oil of turpentine are its proper solvents.
By the inhabitants of the countries from which it is procured mastic is considered highly efficacious in purifying the breath and preserving the teeth, and it is extensively used for these purposes by the Turkish ladies. It is friable when first put into the mouth, but by chewing becomes soft and opaque. It is sometimes used for filling decayed teeth. Dissolved in oil of turpentine, it makes an excellent varnish used upon pictures, but of late for this and other uses it is largely superseded by the Australian resin dammar. Mastic has little medicinal effect, although it is an ingredient of a popular dinner pill composed of aloes, mastic, and red-rose leaves; the use of the mastic is to completely divide the aloes.
Mastic riant (Pistacia lentiscus).