Articles about Greece
Chios Mastiha Starting from Chios island, the birthplace of mastiha.
In ancient times well known Greek and Roman doctors like Hippocrates,
Galen, Dioskurides and later on other Greek and Latin doctors,
studied the beneficial pharmaceutical attributes of " mastiha
resin". Great historians like Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus and
Plinius have recorded numerous references and information on
various uses of mastiha in ancient Carthage, Egypt and Arabia.
In Roman times, Emperor Heliogavalus for the first time blended mastiha essential oil (mastichium oleum) with wine and produced "masticatum". The ladies of the aristocracy in Rome as well as the women of the harem later on in Constantinopole, used toothpicks made from wood of the mastiha tree as a teeth whitener, a practice that continued until the Middle Ages in France, England, Holland and Spain.
During the Byzantine period, mastiha held one of the highest place son the list of exported luxury goods, bringing an income of 120,000 coins to the islands Imperial Commander.
The island's Genoese occupation (1346-1566 AD.) marked a new era in mastiha trade. The restless Genoese traders systematically organized and tightly controlled the trade of the precious resin, bringing mastiha to the big markets of the East as well of the West. Mastiha gained prestige and traveled to the major cities of the famous trading routes of the times.
In the period of the Ottoman Empire the island of Chios was self-ruled, enjoying special privileges only because of mastiha. The finest quality mastiha of the year's harvest was sent to the Sultan in Constantinople for the 300 ladies of his harem.
Hippocrates, Greek physician (460 -377 BC), known as the "father of Medicine", in his work Galen/ 78,603 reports: "... the inner part of the resin, when mixed with honey, can be chewed as well as used as an ointment for the nostrils (for disorders of the nasal mucosa)..." Dioskurides (100 AD.) a doctor and a herbalist from Cilicia, has an extensive reference on mastiha in his work De Materia Medica which was extensively used up to the 16th c AD."...the mastiha tree roots, its bark. its leafs and its fruits, they all have therapeutic attributes. Mastiha has anti-thrombosis properties, prevents dysentery and uterine bleeding and helps preserving a good bone mass. It has diuretic properties and its essential oil is antiseptic...mastiha resin is extremely good for the stomach, helps digestion and teeth whitening..." In addition, Dioskurides, who owned a pharmacy for about 35 years, emphasizes the beneficial effect of mastiha in cosmetics and oral hygiene "... mastiha cleanses deeply the skin, making it radiant and shining and it helps to thicken the eyelashes...mastiha refreshes the breath and helps to keep healthy gums..."