Pistacia lentiscus L.

Last updated: 12 May 2016

Scientific Name

Pistacia lentiscus L.


Lentiscus vulgaris Fourr., Terebinthus lenticus (L.) Moench, Lentiscus massiliensis Fourr. [Unresolved]. [1]

Vernacular Name

English Lentisk, mastic, mastic tree [2]
Arabic Dharou, derw, dirw, darw, shagar el-mastika [2]
Italian Lentisco. [2]

Geographical Distributions

Pistacia lentiscus is a multi-branched shrub rarely growing higher than 12 feet, found scattered over the Mediterranean region in Spain, Portugal, France, Greece, Turkey, Northern Africa, and the Canary Islands. [3]

Botanical Description

No documentation.


No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

P. lentiscus leaves and twigs extracts has been reported to contain α-pinene, myrcene, trans-caryophyllene and germacrene D. [4]

P. lentiscus extract has been reported to contain triterpenoid (e.g. moronic, oleanonic, isomasticadienonic, masticadienonic, 18αH-oleanonic, oleanolic, 3-epiisomasticadienolic, masticadienolic, 3α-acetoxyisomasticadienolic and 3α-acetoxymasticadienolic acids) and arabino-galactan. [5][6]

Plant Part Used

Stem bark [5]

Traditional Use

No documentation.

Preclinical Data


Antiulcer activity

Resinous exudates obtained from P. lentiscus stem have been studied on experimentally-induced gastric and duodenal ulcers in rats. P. lentiscus extract at an oral dose of 500 mg/kg produced a significant reduction in the intensity of gastric mucosal damage induced by pyloric ligation, aspirin, phenylbutazone, reserpine and restraint + cold stress. [7]

Antifungal activity

Aqueous extract of P. lentiscus has been demonstrated to exhibit in vitro antifungal activity against Microsporum canis, Trichophyton mentagrophytes and Trichophyton violaceum. The most active extracts (90-100% inhibition) of P. lenticsus were found to inhibit against T. violaceum. [8]

P. lentiscus gum has also been reported to have antibacterial activity, being active in vitro against E. coli and S. aureus. [9]

Methanolic extract of P. lentiscus gum was found to be effective against Porphyromonas gingivalis, a pathogen linked to gingivitis. [10]

Anticancer activity

Hexane extract of P. lentiscus gum has been demonstrated to exhibit in vivo anticancer activity against human colon cancer/immunodeficient mouse model. P. lentiscus extract administrated at a dose of 200 mg/kg for 4 consecutive days inhibited tumor growth by approximately 35%. [11]

Ethanol extract (50%) of P. lentiscus gum has been demonstrated to inhibit proliferation and induce death of HCT116 human colon cancer cells in vitro. [12]

P. lentiscus oil has been reported to exert an antiproliferative and proapoptotic effect on K562 human leukemia cells and inhibited the release of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) from K562 and B16 mouse melanoma cells. [13]

P. lentiscus gum was found in an in vitro study to enhance maspin promoter activity by suppressing are binding activity and enhancing Sp1 binding activity in prostate cancer cell lines. [14]

P. lentiscus gum also has been reported to inhibit the proliferation and cell cycle progression in prostate cancer cells by suppressing NF-kappaB activity and the NF-kappaB signal pathway. [15]

Anti-inflammatory activity

P. lentiscus gum has been reported to have anti-inflammatory effects in laboratory studies, including inhibition of the production of both nitric oxide (NO) and PGE2 by activated macrophages mostly via a cytotoxic action. [16]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

Anti-Helicobacter pylori activity

In a human clinical study, 5 male subjects and 1 female subject were treated with P. lentiscus extract in powder form at a dose of 1 g, twice daily. At the end of seven days of treatment, all six patients experienced complete relief. After 4 weeks of treatment, endoscopic healing was found in 5 patients. No side effects or abnormalities were reported. [17]

A randomized pilot study in 52 patients suffering from H. pylori infection found that P. lentiscus gum (350 mg tid x 14 d or 1.5 g tid x 14 d) eradicated the infection in approximately 38% of the patients vs. 77% using pharmacotherapy. [18]

Antiulcer activity

A double-blind clinical trial was carried out on 38 patients with symptomatic and endoscopically proven duodenal ulcer to compare the therapeutic responses to P. lentiscus gum (1 g daily, 20 patients) and placebo (lactose, 1 g daily, 18 patients) given orally over a period of two weeks. [19]

Symptomatic relief was obtained in sixteen (80%) patients on P. lentiscus and in nine (50%) patients on placebo, while endoscopically proven healing occurred in fourteen (70%) patients on P. lentiscus gum and four (22%) patients on placebo. P. lentiscus has also been reported to inhibit neutrophil activation in the presence of H. pylori neutrophil activating protein. [20]

Antibacterial activity

The antibacterial activity of P. lentiscus gum has been reported effective in reducing dental caries in human study. Just after chewing the P. lentiscus gum for 15 minutes, a significant decrease of total bacteria and S. mutans was observed (P < .001). The reduction in lactobacilli was not significant at later first stage (P > .05). However, at the end of 135 minutes, there were significantly fewer S mutans (P < .001), total viable bacteria (P < .001), and lactobacilli (P < .001) in the oral cavity after chewing P. lentiscus gum than after chewing paraffin (P < .001). [21]

Anti-inflammatory activity

The anti-inflammatory activity of P. lentiscus gum was also reported in a small human trial to significantly decrease the activity index and the plasma levels of inflammatory markers IL-6 and CRP in patients with mildly to moderately active Crohn’s disease. [22]


No documentation.

Interaction & Depletion

No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing

No documentation.


  1. The Plant List. Pistacia lentiscus L. 2013 ver1.1 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 May 4] Available from http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-2407564.
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC World Dictionary of Medicinal and Poisonous Plants: Common Names, Scientific Names, Eponyms, Synonyms and Etymology. Volume IV M-Q. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 603.
  3. U.S. National Plant Germplasm System. Pistacia lentiscus L. [homepage on the Internet]. No date [cited 2016 May 12]. Available from https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxonomydetail.aspx?id=28647.
  4. Magiatis P, Melliou E, Skaltsounis AL, Chinou IB, Mitaku S. Chemical composition and antimicrobial activity of the essential oils of Pistacia lentiscus var. chia. Planta Med. 1999;65(8):749-752.
  5. Papageorgiou VP, Bakola-Christianopoulou MN, Apazidou KK, Psarros EE. Gas chromatographic-mass spectroscopic analysis of the acidic triterpenic fraction of mastic gum. J Chromatogr A. 1997;769(2):263-273.
  6. Kottakis F, Lamari F, Matragkou Ch, Zachariadis G, Karamanos N, Choli-Papadopoulou T. Arabino-galactan proteins from Pistacia lentiscus var. chia: Isolation, characterization and biological function. Amino Acids. 2008:34(3):413-420.
  7. Al-Said MS, Aqeel AM, Parmar NS, Tariq M. Evaluation of mastic, a crude drug obtained from Pistacia lentiscus for gastric and duodenal anti-ulcer activity. J Ethnopharmacol. 1986;15(3):271-278.
  8. Ali-Shtayeh MS, Abu Ghadeib SI. Antifungal activity of plant extracts against dermatophytes. Mycoses. 1999;42(11-12):665-672.
  9. Iauk L, Ragusa S, Rapisarda A, Franco S, Nicolosi VM. In vitro antimicrobial activity of Pistacia lentiscus L. extracts: Preliminary report. J Chemother. 1996;8(3):207-209.
  10. Sterer N. Antimicrobial effect of mastic gum methanolic extract aganist Porphyromonas gingivalis. J Med Food. 2006;9(2):290-292.
  11. Dimas K, Hatziantoniou S, Wyche JH, Pantazis P. A mastic gum extract induces suppression of growth of human colorectal tumor xenografts in immunodeficient mice. In Vivo. 2009;23(1):63-68.
  12. Balan KV, Prince J, Han Z, et al. Antiproliferative activity and induction of apoptosis in human colon cancer cells treated in vitro with constituents of a product derived from Pistacia lentiscus L. var. chia. Phytomed. 2007;14(4):263-272.
  13. Loutrari H, Magkouta S, Pyriochou A, et al. Mastic oil from Pistacia lentiscus var. chia inhibits growth and survival of human K562 leukemia cells attenuates angiogenesis. Nutr Cancer. 2006;55(1):86-93.
  14. He ML, Chen WW, Zhang PJ. Gum mastic increases maspin expression in prostate cancer cells. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2007;28(4):567-572.
  15. He ML, Li A, Xu CS, et al. Mechanisms of antiprostate cancer by gum mastic: NF-kappa B signal as target. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2007;28(3):446-452.
  16. Zhoul L, Satoh K, Takahashi K. Re-evaluation of anti-inflammatory activity of mastic using activated macrophages. In Vivo. 2009;23(4):583-589.
  17. Huwez FU, Al-Habbal MJ. Mastic in treatment of benign gastric ulcers. Gastroenterol Japon. 1986;21(3):273-274.
  18. Dabos KJ, Sfika E, Vlatta LJ. Giannikopoulos G. The effect of mastic gum on Helicobacter pylori: A randomized pilot study. Phytomedicine. 2010;17(3-4):296-299.
  19. Al-Habbal MJ, Al-Habbal Z, Huwez FU. A double-blind controlled clinical trial of mastic and placebo in the treatment of duodenal ulcer. J Clin Exp Pharm Physiol. 1984;11:541-544.
  20. Kottakis F, Kouzi-Koliakou K, Pendas S, Kountouras J, Choli-Papadopoulou T. Effects of mastic gum Pistacia lentiscus var. chia on innate cellular immune effectors. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2009;21(2):143-149.
  21. Aksoy A, Duran N, Toroqlu S, Koksal F. Short-term effect of mastic gum on salivary concentrations of cariogenic bacteria in orthodontic patients. Angle Orthod. 2007;77(1):124-128.
  22. Kaliora AC, Stathopoulou MG, Triantafillidis JK, Dedoussis GV, Andrikopoulos NK. Chios mastic treatment of patients with active Crohn’s disease. World J Gastroenterol. 2007;13(5):748-753.