The plant Pistacia lentiscus L. is very common in the eastern Mediterranean region. The chia variety is cultivated uniquely in southern Chios. The resin of this plant, the Chios mastic, is obtained as an exudate from the trunk. Chios Mastic has been used in traditional Greek medicine for various gastrointestinal disorders such as abdominal discomfort, indigestion and peptic ulcer for more than 2,500 years. Ancient Greek doctors such as Hippocrates, Dioscurides, Theophrastus, and Galen, have reported its properties and recommended its use. Nowadays, it is used as a seasoning in Mediterranean cuisine, as a chewing gum, perfumery, dentistry and the local population of Chios is using it to relieve gastralgia and for being protected against peptic ulcer.

Studies in rats with gastric and duodenal ulcers, mastic administration showed a significant reduction in free acidity. Also, a double-blind clinical trial conducted in patients with symptomatic and endoscopically proven duodenal ulcer showed relief of symptoms in patients receiving Chios mastic (1 g daily) compared to placebo-treated patients, while 70% of the patients who received mastic showed endoscopically proven healing.

Barry Marshall and Robin Warren in 1983 suggested that an infection caused by Helicobacter pylori is responsible for gastric inflammation and peptic ulcer, which was proved a few years later. Helicobacter pylori has been shown to be the cause of chronic gastritis and a major risk factor for the development of peptic ulcer, gastric atrophy, gastric adenocarcinoma and lymphoid. The low compliance of the patient with antibiotics as a treatment to eradicate the bacterium and the development of antibiotic resistance has created the need for new eradication strategies.

Chios Mastic has significant in vitro activity, with antibacterial and antifungal activity, specifically against Helicobacter pylori. However, in a recent in vivo study of Helicobacter pylori infection, mastic's activity was compared with antibiotic elimination programs where it appeared that after a seven-day treatment, the bacterium from the stomach of mastic-treated mice was not cleared. The raw resin was used in a high percentage (30%) of an insoluble and tacky polymer (poly-β-morsene) which obviously inhibits oral administration and reduces the bioavailability of the active compounds contained. In order to address this problem, in the present study was prepared a total non-polymeric mastic extract (TMEWP) and its activity was tested against pyloric Helicobacter in mice contaminated with this bacterium.

The chemical consistency of the total polymer-free (TMEWP) extract was proved to be essentially the same as that of the crude mastic, except for the absence of the polymer, and showed better solubility properties and increased concentration of the active ingredients. Previous animal studies were organized to determine activity of Chios mastic against Helicobacter pylori in a short period of administration, so the present study has extended the administration time for its TMEWP test over a period of 3 months.

Helicobacter pylorus was used to evaluate the potential therapeutic effect of continuous TMEWP in colonization of the bacterium and in the development of associated gastritis. The model included mouse-adapted Helicobacter pylori strain (SS1), which colonizes the C57BL / 6 mouse heavily and leads to the development of appreciable levels of gastritis closely mimicking humans.

The experiments showed that the total mastic extract could slightly reduce colonization of helicobacter in the stomach. The reduction of colonization levels was estimated to be about 30 times. These results are consistent with the visible decrease in colonization of H. pylori observed in histopathology evaluations. It has been documented that a moderate fall on the levels of colonization is probably due to the increase in bioavailability of the active ingredients in the gum after removal of the polymer. The longer duration of administration and observation is another advantage of this study.

Although 3 months is a very short period for the total eradication of Helicobacter pylori, the results show that in real life, normal daily consumption of mastic for a much longer period may create conditions that favor the reduction of colonization levels by Helicobacter pylori.

However, there are no epidemiological data to support a preventative action of Chios mastic on the citizens who consume Chios Mastic very often.

From the in vitro investigation that was conducted to identify the most active fractions in mastic extracts, TMEWP was further separated into an acidic and neutral fraction to detect the antimicrobial effects of these fractions as well as the total mastic extract. Moderate activity was observed for the total mastic extract versus the panel of 11 Helicobacter pylori strains that was higher than what reported for the Helicobacter pylori strain for ethanol diluted in mastic preparations.

In conclusion, the present study was published in the Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy Journal and is shown that a mastic extract without the polymeric poly-β-myrisin component is 30 times more effective in reducing the degradation levels of H. pylori in infected mice over a 3 month dosing period and the activity could be attributed to the triterpenic acids within the acetate fraction of mastic extracts. Finally, the results also show that regular long-term mastic consumption may be effective in reducing colonization of Helicobacter, although to date there are no epidemiological data supporting the hypothesis of reduced prevalence of Helicobacter pylori infection among Chios island population.

  • Paraschos S, Magiatis P, Mitakou S, et al. In vitro and in vivo activities of Chios mastic gum extracts and constituents against Helicobacter pylori. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 2007;51:551-559.
Related product: L-Glutamine & Chios Mastiha

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