|Infobox on Arabic Gum|
|Example of Arabic Gum|
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Mastic is a resin obtained from the mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus). In pharmacies and nature shops, it is called "arabic gum" (not to be confused with Gum Arabic and Yemen gum). Originally liquid, it is sun dried into drops of hard brittle translucent resin. When chewed, the resin softens and becomes a bright white and opaque gum. The flavour is bitter at first, but after chewing, it releases a refreshing, slightly piney or cedar flavor.
The rarity of mastic and the difficulty of its production make it expensive. As a result, imitations in the form of other resins appear in the market, sold as "mastic," such as Boswellia or gum arabic. Other trees, such as Pistacia palaestina, can also produce a resin similar to mastic. Yet other substances, such as pine tree resin and almond tree resin, are sometimes used in place of mastic.
Mastic has been used as a medicine since antiquity and is still used in traditional folk medicine of the Middle East. Mastic contains antioxidants and also has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Mastic may also have some value in preventing tooth decay and gingivitis as chewing mastic reduces oral bacteria.
One of the earliest uses of mastic was as chewing gum; hence, the name. In several countries mastic is used in ice cream, sauces, deserts, soft drinks, seasoning , cakes, sweets, pastries, in vegetable preserves, in jams that have a gummy consistency, in soups, and in the preparation of meats and smoked foods.
Mastic is used in some varnishes. Mastic varnish was used to protect and preserve photographic negatives. Mastic is also used in perfumes, cosmetics, soap, body oils, and body lotion. In ancient Egypt, mastic was used in embalming. In its hardened form, mastic can be used, like frankincense or Boswellia resin, to produce incense.