Ancient chewing gum is a subject we wanted to cover long ago, but somehow it waited for the right moment. In today’s modern world, chewing gums are available at every corner, but from all of them, we were not able to find one single brand that is clean! When we say clean, we mean that it doesn’t contain an army of unhealthy sweeteners, stabilisers, emulsifiers and other industrial additives.
However, there is something completely natural, completely sugar-free and extremely aromatic that can and should become a part of every Ketonian lifestyle. This ancient chewing gum is called Mastic and guess what – it comes from Greece! 😉
Nothing will fight the infamous Keto breath like chewing natural mastic gum!
The tears of Mediterranean
In Greece, from ancient times, people have been chewing resin that was collected from a specific Pistachio tree on the island of Chios. It has been used for mouth refreshing, but even Hippokrates prescribed this ancient chewing gum as medicine. For many centuries, Mastic literally had the value of gold and was used as a payment method by the Chios people. Especially when they wanted to buy their freedom from the Romans or the Turks.
According to a 2007 study, mastic can help prevent liver damage
Historical records of Mastic tears
An intriguing aspect of mastic trees is the fact that they grow in many parts of our planet but they only give the aromatic resin on the island of Chios. For the historians, it is not quite clear when the cultivation of mastic trees started on Chios. However, Herodotus was the first to write about their resin, around the 5th century BC. Seems like the beneficial ancients chewing gum was more popular in the past than it is today.
Ancient chewing gum was as precious as gold
The mastic trees of Chios were so significant from the economic point of view. Numerous invasion attempts and pirates were continually frightening the islanders. This defined the architecture of the island, as many fortifications were constructed in the mastic region villages. Villages in the southern part have the shape of a fortress.
During the Genoese and Turkish invasions, the villages where mastic trees grew enjoyed some privileges of freedom which they were buying with annual amounts of mastic tears to the invaders.
Mastic oil is often used for treating wounds or other skin problems. It has a powerful antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
A specific method known only to islanders
Today, the mastic trees are still giving unique treasure tears. Although the trees can live for more than 100 years, only between 5th and 70th year they give resin. The procedure of collecting is quite complicated and only the Chios natives know the exact ancient method. For this reason, in the past, anybody from the Mastic villages could escape the death penalty if caught stealing or performing other criminal activities.
Mastic is a powerful antibacterial agent
A scientific study reports that mastic gum has potential antibacterial properties and it can be used to relieve gastrointestinal problems. From ancient times, Greeks used it to relieve pain and inflammation. Another study proved that Chios mastic is effective in the treatment of functional dyspepsia.
Mastic gum’s beneficial effect on our digestive system is related to the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances. There are numerous studies, such as this one, that prove the potential and health benefits of the Mastic gum. Yes, it’s called gum, because, after just a few seconds in your mouth, the resin crystals turn into real chewing gum. Magical experience!
Chewing mastic can aid digestion, refresh your breath and the flavour never dissapears. You can chew it for hours and then just swallow it! The texture is equal to chewing gum but it’s not sweet at all!
How do we use Mastic as a spice?
Before we give you more info, let’s remember our wonderful Keto Panna Cotta recipe. As you know, we love to give some Greek twist to famous Mediterranean recipes. This is why we infused the Panna cotta with mastic oil. We love doing this, especially when we are working on the Keto version. We don’t just care for the reduction of carbs, we believe that adding more health benefits of various spices and flavour to Ketonised recipes is crucial
You can simply use Mastic powder in many dishes, savoury or sweet. You can also use the Mastic oil but have in mind that it’s extremely powerful, so you need to use it in small drops. Furthermore, you could add a tablespoon of Mastic liqueur to ice-creams or mousse. However, have in mind that the liqueur contains sugar and more than 1 tablespoons would really not be Keto friendly. 😉
Where to buy Mastic?
Well, naturally, the best Mastic can be purchased in Greece. However, the Association of Mastic producers from the island of Chios is exporting their original product to many countries worldwide. Just a basic search of the most famous online webshop will give you results. However, mastic really needs to be from Chios if you want it to have all the properties. Here’s a link to the product we use and we guarantee it’s authentic and original!