People have traditionally chewed mastic gum to relieve digestive upset, according to physician and medical writer, Dr. Andrew Weil. It may ease gastritis and upset stomach, and decrease inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. Some supplements for treating heartburn include mastic gum, often combined with deglycyrrhizinated licorice, known as DGL.
A chronic bacterial infection by Helicobacter pylori is a common cause of stomach and intestinal ulcers. A study published in the March 2010 issue of “Phytomedicine” evaluated the effects of mastic gum on people with H. pylori infection. Fifty-two participants took pure mastic gum, pure mastic gum plus the ulcer medication pantoprazole for 14 days, or pantoprazole plus antibiotics for 10 days. No one in the pantoprazole group experienced elimination of the H. pylori bacteria, while 10 of the 13 individuals taking antibiotics did. Five of 13 participants taking mastic gum and 5 of 13 taking mastic gum plus pantoprazole also experienced eradication of the bacteria. The study indicated that mastic gum has antibacterial activity against H. pylori that is not only effective in the laboratory but in humans as well.
Mastic appears to have cholesterol-lowering effects, as indicated by a study published in the April 20, 2007 issue of the “Journal of Ethnopharmacology.” The researchers did monthly blood tests on participants over 18 months. Participants taking 5g of mastic daily experienced a reduction in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, the so-called bad cholesterol, as well as in total cholesterol levels.