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September 9, 2012

MASTICHA: A NATURAL MEDICINE AND COSMETIC

Masticha: the wonderful and legendary elixir!
                             
        In this post I am going to tell you about the Masticha (Μαστίχα in Greek) which has been known since antiquity. You may already know it and if you don't read on to learn about this pure and unprocessed product.

      Masticha  is a 100% Greek product that is not produced in any other part of the world except Greece. More specifically, it is produced only in the island of Chios and is protected by the European Union as an exclusively Greek product, being granted Protected Designation of Origin.
 
      Why only on Chios? Well, this has been the subject of much research. Even though people tried to take masticha to different countries in the past, amazingly enough masticha is impossible to grow in any other part of the world except Chios. (Maybe it's the soil, I wouldn't know!) 

 
It is a natural product that comes from mastic trees, which are small evergreen trees,  native to the island.






this “tear” becomes solid and gives the  fragrant mastiha
Mastiha flows like a tear drop from the trunk of the tree afterit having been slit by the villagers with the use of a sharp tool.
     


      Mastiha is harvested during the summer and it is hard work where patience is also required.  (Unfortunately, this past August the production of masticha was threatened by a huge forest fire that destroyed many masticha groves.)



Masticha looks like off-white, semi-transparent droplets/tears
 
      What also makes the Masticha unique is that it has so many uses. 
       It is used in cooking (every Greek pantry has it) and baking. It is considered a spice and it can flavor everything and anything, from breads and pastries, to tomato sauces and soups.  Masticha is an important ingredient in  the New Year's traditional vasilopita (St. Basil's Pie) and the special Easter bread (tsoureki). (One of my favorites is masticha ice cream! Yum!) 
 
   Another favorite is the hypovrihio (which means submarine). It is in an almost solid thick creamy form mixed with honey or sugar and spooned into cold water. It sinks, hence submarine!  It's a refreshing drink/sweet treat that kids (and not only) absolutely love!
 
 
 

   Masticha is used extensively in the production of alcoholic beverages, the famous ouzo and other liqueurs.
The liqueur known as 'Masticha of Chios'  
is served accompanied by a dessert after each meal or alongside coffee. It is served at restaurants after meals as it is very digestive!
 
 
 
       The resin itself makes a fantastic chewing gum named Masticha, which not only lasts a long time without disintegrating, it also freshens breath and whitens teeth. It has been proven that it can reduce bacterial plaque in the mouth by 41.5% which makes it excellent for oral hygiene. Many toothpastes and mouthwashes have masticha as their main ingredient.
 
 
      Late studies have confirmed - what was already known since ancient times - that Masticha is good for your health. It has therapeutic qualities and therefore has medicinal and pharmaceutical applications.

      Masticha is a traditional remedy for stomach aches and heartburn, and has of late been proven as a treatment and cure for peptic ulcers.




 
      Regular consumption has been proven to absorb cholesterol, thus reducing the risk of heart attacks and easing high blood pressure. It also helps reduce triglycerides and total lipid levels.
 
lotion
     
 
      Masticha oil has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and is widely used for ointments for skin disorders and afflictions including eczema, burns and frostbite.

soap
 
      It is also good for your skin and hair which is why it is used in cosmetics and beauty products such as soaps, lotions for hair and skin and even perfumes! Check out Korres Natural Products  or Mastic Spa.
     
      You can also find masticha products at The Masticha Shop (there is one in New York).


Have you ever used masticha or any masticha product?

  

Photos are courtesy of Google images.

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5 comments:

  1. What a fantastic little substance! Did the cost of the products go up a lot after the fires? It's amazing to see the versatility of one natural product. I'm not a fan of the anise flavor, (ouzo) but I loved learning about all of the medicinal properties of Masticha. Thanks for the lesson, VIcki.

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  2. No, I haven't seen the prices go up! You'd probably think that every Greek is an ouzo drinker but I'm not a fan because I don't like anise, either. I do like masticha, though, it's nothing like anise! I'm glad you found the post interesting!

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  3. I love Masticha chewing gum and, of course, the liqueur :)...I haven't tried any cosmetic products , yet, but I'm sure I will soon.

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  4. Wow every time I come here I learn something new! This is really cool. I think this will be on my Sunday learned week. So interesting.

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  5. Can I put the photo of the tree up on my website for Sunday I will link your url to it. I just think it is really nice. I am writing about how I learned about it on Sunday as one of my things I learned this week.

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