Mastic, Pistacia lentiscus, is an evergreen shrub, native to the Mediterranean shores, from Syria to Spain, being found also on the adjacent islands as far as the Canaries. The collection of mastic, however, is localized to the northern part of the Island of Scio, where from all time the tree has been known, exuding most abundantly the resinous tar that, when dried, is known as mastic. The origin of its use is lost in antiquity. Theophrastus (633), fourth century B. C., mentions it, and both Dioscorides (194) and Pliny (514) refer to it, in connection with the Island of Scio, or Chios. The writer of this article made a study of mastic during a journey to the Orient, but as yet has not published the paper. By distillation with alcohol, mastic produces a drink, this also being described in the paper in preparation, the drink being probably of great antiquity, and known to the Greeks and Romans. The use of mastic in medicine followed its empirical employment as a breath sweetener (it being sold in all Oriental bazaars for this purpose) and as a flavor for cordials and other drinks. Perhaps the first record of its authoritative employment in medicine is about the thirteenth century, by the Welsh "Meddygon Myddfai" (507) as an ingredient of ointments.
The History of the Vegetable Drugs of the U.S.P., 1911, was written by John Uri Lloyd.