Mastic. Mastiche. Pistacia lentiscus.
Mastic. Mastiche. N. F. IV (U. S. VIII). Mastich. Mastisc. Mastic, Fr. Resina Mastiche, G. Almaciga, Mastic, Sp. Sakes, Turk. Arah, Arab.—" A concrete resinous exudation from Pistacia Lentiscus Linné (Fam. Anacardiaceae)." N. F. IV. Mastic was deleted from the U. S. P. VIII because the official pill of aloes and mastic was dropped; the National Formulary IV has, however, admitted mastic and the pills containing it. The mastic tree, which is also called lentisk of lentiscus, is a shrub or small tree, seldom more than twelve feet in height, much branched towards the top, and furnished with petiolate, abruptly pinnate leaves. The flowers are dioecious, and very small. The tree is a native of the countries bordering upon the Mediterranean. The fruit yields by expression a fixed oil, of a deep green color, and liquid at about 32.3° C. (90° F.), which the Arabs of North Africa use both as an article of diet and for light. A resinous exudation from the stem and branches is the official part, but it does not appear to be collected in all places where the tree flourishes. Under the name of Bombay mastic there occur in India masses of oleoresin said to be derived from the Pistacia Terebinthus, having the general appearance of true mastic with a deeper color, but lacking fragrance, and dissolving in hot alcohol. For an account of the collection of mastic from P. Terebinthus growing in the island of Cyprus, see C. D., 1897, 273.
Mastic is obtained chiefly from the island of Scio, or Chios, in the Grecian Archipelago, where the tree is cultivated for this product. Incisions are made in the trunk and principal branches, from which the juice slowly exudes, and either hardens in tears upon the bark, or drops on the ground, where it ia received upon cloths or the bare earth, and concretes in irregular masses. The tears are most esteemed, and are the only form recognized by the N. F. They are of various sizes, oval or roundish, often compressed, smooth, semi-transparent, of a pale-yellow color, of a shining fracture, friable, and usually covered with a whitish powder, occasioned by their friction against each other. They are brittle, but become plastic when chewed. The masses consist of yellowish agglutinated tears, with others of a darker color and less translucent, and often fragments of wood, bark, or earthy matter intermingled.
The N. F. describes it as "in subglobular, lenticular, elongated or pear-shaped tears, about 3 mm. in diameter, pale yellow or greenish-yellow, transparent, having a glass-like lustre, the surface sometimes very slightly dusty; brittle, becoming plastic when chewed; odor slight, balsamic; taste mild, terebinthinate. Mastic is completely soluble in ether and almost completely soluble in alcohol. The acid number, determined as directed by the U. S. P. (Test No. 10, Part III), is not less than 65." N. F. IV.
According to J. Leon Soubeiran the valuable tears are produced by spontaneous exudation from the branches. But the greater part of the resin comes from longitudinal incisions in the stem, made with a knife, close together, and extending from the root to the branches. In fifteen or twenty days the resin has concreted, and is collected in little panniers of white paper or cotton cloth. (Proc. A. Ph. A., 1897, 563.)
Mastic is nearly inodorous, unless rubbed or heated, when it becomes fragrant. Its taste is weak, but agreeably terebinthinate, and, after long chewing, very slightly acrid. It is at first friable under the teeth, but soon becomes soft and ductile, and acquires a white, opaque appearance. Its sp. gr. is 1.074. It i8 fusible and inflammable by heat. Alcohol dissolves about 90 per cent. of it, leaving a viscid substance which becomes brittle when dried, and for which the name of masticin or betaresin of mastiche has been proposed. This substance, though not dissolved by alcohol, softens and swells up in it, as gluten does in water. Hlasiwetz gives C20H31O as the formula of the resin. The portion dissolved by the alcohol is called by Johnston alpha resin of mastiche or mastichic acid because of its acid properties, and has the formula C20H32O2. (Handwörterbuch der Chemie, iv, p. 280.) Mastic is wholly soluble in ether, chloroform, and oil of turpentine, scarcely soluble in the fixed oils, and insoluble in water. It consists chiefly of resin, with masticin, and a volatile oil. Fluckiger, through Schimmel & Co., of Leipsic, ascertained that this volatile oil is present in mastic to the extent of 2 per cent. He found it to be a terpene of the composition C_H_. Schimmel & Co. (Schim. Rep., April, 1897) state that mastic resin yields from 0.9 to 2.5 per cent. of a powerful balsamic essential oil of the same odor as the raw material, a sp. gr. of from 0.855 to 0.87 at 15° C. (59° F.), and an optical rotation (100-mm. tube) of from +22° to +27°. Tschirch and Reutter (A. Pharm., 1904, 104) examined mastic carefully; they found approximately 42 per cent. of free resin acids. These are: the isomeric a- and β-masticinic acids, C23H36O4, masticolic acid, C23H36O4 (slight amount), amorphous a-masticonic acid, C32H48O4 (20 per cent.), and β-masticonic acid, C32H48O4 (18 per cent.). Besides this, mastic contains 30 per cent. a-masticoresin, C35H36O4, soluble in alcohol; 20 per cent. of β-masticoresin (masticin), insoluble in alcohol, and 2 per cent. of an ethereal oil, possessing a pale yellow color and a somewhat camphoraceous odor. Finally, there is also a bitter principle, which could not be isolated in pure form. For a chemical investigation of Egyptian mastic by Reutter, see S. W. P., 1913, 537. Mastic is occasionally adulterated with olibanum, sandarach, and other resinous bodies, and, in seasons of scarcity, with sea salt.
Mastic was formerly thought to possess properties analogous to those of the turpentines, and was used in debility of the stomach, hemoptysis from ulcerations, leucorrhea, chronic diarrhea. etc., but its virtues were overrated, and it is at present scarcely ever given internally. In the East, however, an aqueous infusion is said to be still used in cholera infantum, and the Greek employ cataplasms made by mixing it with bread and red wine, which they apply to the lower abdomen. (Landerer.) It is sometimes employed temporarily to fill the cavities of carious teeth, for which purpose it is well fitted by its softness. In Turkey it is habitually chewed by the women, under the impression that it sweetens the breath and preserves the gums and teeth. Dissolved in alcohol or oil of turpentine, it forms a brilliant varnish. A solution made by macerating half an ounce of mastic and fifteen grains of caoutchouc in two fluidounces of chloroform, and filtering in closed vessels, forms a valuable varnish for microscopic work. The following mode of applying it to carious teeth has been recommended. Dissolve four parts of mastic in one of ether, in a bottle well stoppered. With the solution thus formed, which is yellow and of an oily consistence, saturate a small piece of cotton of the size of the carious cavity, and, having well cleansed and dried the cavity, introduce the cotton, without painful pressure, so as to fill it exactly. The resin attaches itself to the diseased surface of the tooth, which it protects from the air, and from the food taken into the mouth. Dose, thirty grains (2 Gm.). It has been highly recommended by various surgeons as a dressing for wounds. Its use is chiefly for the purpose of preventing bacteria upon the surrounding skin getting into the wound. Voos (M. M. W., 1911) paints the skin up to the edges of the wound without previous washing, with a solution of mastic in benzol and then cleanses the wound in the ordinary manner and applies an aseptic dressing. A special solution for this purpose is upon the market under the name of mastisol. Another formula for mastic varnish which has been used is 20 Gm. of mastic, 30 mils of chloroform, and 1 mil of linseed oil.