By Jillian Levy
Updated April 20, 2024

Benefits of mastic gum for gut health

Discover how mastic gum can contribute to healthy digestion and normal gut function.

Mastic gum offers gut benefits. Photo by Greco Gum.

Mastic gum, a natural resin from the Pistacia lentiscus tree found on Greece’s Chios island, is packed with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial compounds, making it a powerhouse for managing gut-related issues.

Based on available research, mastic gum may help prevent or treat digestive and gastrointestinal issues such as:

  • Peptic ulcers

  • Heartburn

  • Bloating

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (diarrhea, constipation, and stomach pains)

  • Inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s

This article explains the myriad ways mastic gum can contribute to healthy digestion and normal gut function, as well as its role in managing various gastrointestinal conditions.

Beneficial compounds found in mastic gum

Mastic gum, also known as Chios mastic gum, is a resin obtained from the mastic tree, a plant indigenous to the Mediterranean region, particularly the Greek island of Chios.

Chios remains the sole place where this type of mastic gum is produced today. The area’s specific climate and soil conditions are believed to contribute to the gum’s unique properties and many health benefits, which you can learn about here — including its high content of antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory compounds, such as terpenes and phytosterols.1

These special compounds play a role in promoting a healthy gut microbiome in many different ways, including by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut and protecting against damage to the gut lining.

In fact, while the main use of mastic gum these days is for chewing, such as for oral health purposes and fighting gum disease (more on that here) or to improve the appearance of the jawline (which you can read about in this article), mastic gum is also approved by the European Medicines Agency for treating mild peptic and gastrointestinal disorders, as well as inflammatory conditions.23

Mastic gum contains over 120 beneficial compounds with therapeutic properties, including many that are beneficial for gastrointestinal health, such as:

  • Terpenes: The primary active compounds in mastic gum are terpenes, known for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Mastic gum contains high concentrations of terpenes that can help reduce inflammation in the gut and protect the digestive system from oxidative stress.

  • Triterpenic acids: These compounds, including oleanolic acid, have been shown in clinical trials to possess antimicrobial and antibacterial activities, particularly effective against Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a bacterium associated with peptic ulcers and gastritis.

  • Polyphenolic compounds: Mastic gum contains polyphenols, which are antioxidants that protect the cells lining the gastrointestinal tract (a critical part of the immune system) from damage caused by free radicals. This can help maintain the integrity of the gut lining and support nutrient absorption. Some of the most noteworthy types found within the gum include salicylic, rosmarinic, and caffeic acids.

  • Phytosterols: These plant-based compounds have been shown to have cholesterol-lowering effects, which can indirectly support gut health by promoting better bile composition and reducing the risk of gallstone formation.

  • Essential/volatile oils: The essential oils in mastic gum, including myrcene and limonene, contribute to its antibacterial and antifungal properties, further supporting a healthy gut microbiome.

How does mastic gum benefit gut health?

Due to the presence of the compounds above, which work synergistically to support overall health, mastic gum offers a broad spectrum of benefits for the gut (or microbiome). Here is more about the positive effects of Chios mastic gum on gut health:

Prebiotic effects

Research indicates that mastic gum can act as a prebiotic, helping to “feed” beneficial microbes in the gut. This, in turn, promotes a healthy balance of bacteria that contribute to overall digestive health and beyond.

A healthy gut microbiome leads to normal digestive function and can reduce the frequency of symptoms like diarrhea, stomach pain, aches, and cramps.

Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties

Mastic gum can help manage inflammation in the gut, which is beneficial for conditions like Crohn’s disease, a form of inflammatory bowel disease, as well as leaky gut syndrome, a condition that occurs when the gut lining becomes inflamed, damaged, and permeable.4

The antioxidants in mastic gum protect the cells lining the gut and gastrointestinal tract from damage caused by free radicals and oxidative stress, further promoting a healthy digestive system and normal immune system function (about 70% to 80% of immune cells are located inside the gut).56

Additionally, due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, as well as its ability to soothe the GI tract, findings from human studies suggest that mastic gum can be useful for managing uncomfortable digestive symptoms like heartburn, acid reflux, stomach ulcers, and stomach pains (also called dyspepsia) that often stem from inflammation and infections inside the gut.

Antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial effects

One of the most significant benefits of mastic gum is its antibacterial and antimicrobial effects, particularly against Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a bacterium that can inhabit the stomach lining and is a common cause of peptic ulcers.7

Mastic gum can also help inhibit the growth of yeast and other pathogens in the gut due to its antiseptic and antifungal properties, potentially offering protection against issues like Candida overgrowth or parasitic worms.

Promotion of healthy saliva production

When you chew mastic gum, it helps to boost saliva production, assisting in the breakdown of foods and improving overall digestion.8

Furthermore, mastic gum has been shown to support gut motility, the process of digesting food and moving it through the GI tract normally, facilitating the absorption of essential nutrients, elimination of waste, and detoxification.

Inside the gut
Mastic gum can help keep the gut lining healthy. Photo by Oleksandra Troian.

The role of mastic gum in managing gastrointestinal conditions

As explained above, mastic gum can help protect against damage to the gut lining and bacterial infections while also relieving digestion discomfort.

Here’s more about how mastic gum’s protective effects give it the ability to manage specific gut-related conditions while improving overall wellness:

Peptic ulcers and helicobacter pylori infections

The antibacterial properties of mastic gum make it a potential remedy for combating H. pylori infections, which in turn can help lower the risk of developing peptic ulcers and the severity of symptoms.

By inhibiting the growth of this bacterium, mastic gum may help heal and prevent the formation of ulcers in the stomach and duodenum (a tube connecting the stomach to the middle part of the small intestine).

Crohn’s disease and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

The anti-inflammatory effects of mastic gum are particularly beneficial for people with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, two forms of inflammatory bowel disease, which are conditions characterized by chronic inflammation in the digestive tract.9

By reducing inflammation in the gut, mastic gum can help alleviate symptoms like indigestion and abdominal pain and contribute to the long-term management of these conditions. For example, mastic gum resin has been found to contain masticadienonic acid, a substance that contributes to intestinal barrier integrity, helps lower inflammation, and improves the diversity and balance of gut microbiota.1011

In one study, when adults with Crohn’s used mastic gum over a period of 4 weeks, inflammation markers and severity of symptoms were both found to decrease on average.

Heartburn and indigestion

Studies suggest that Chios mastic gum may be effective at reducing heartburn and abdominal pain. One study found that 77% of adults with gastric pain experienced “marked improvements” in symptoms after using mastic gum for three weeks.1213

FAQs about mastic gum’s effects on the digestive system

Can mastic gum help with leaky gut syndrome?‌

Mastic gum can act as a natural remedy to help manage leaky gut syndrome due to its anti-inflammatory effects, which help heal and protect the gut lining and reduce intestinal permeability.

By reducing the risk or severity of leaky gut syndrome, mastic gum can potentially indirectly contribute to other bodywide benefits, such as improved immune defenses, energy levels, cholesterol levels and cardiovascular function, mood, blood sugar, and mental clarity — all of which rely on normal nutrient absorption and inflammation management within the gut.

Can mastic gum improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease?

Yes, mastic gum is capable of helping to improve symptoms of IBS and inflammatory bowel disease by reducing inflammation in the gut and combating bacteria that may exacerbate these conditions, especially H. pylori.

Does mastic gum have probiotics?

No, mastic gum does not contain probiotics. Its benefits for gut health stem from its rich supply of compounds that have prebiotic, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties rather than from probiotics.

However, because mastic gum can act like a prebiotic, it can help probiotics thrive in the gut, which is why the two are often taken together in supplement form.

For the greatest health benefits, including in digestion, cardiovascular function, and blood glucose control, use mastic gum along with a nutrient-rich diet that includes lots of fiber and probiotics, such as from foods like yogurt, legumes, beans, and seeds like chia and flax.

Does mastic gum fight Candida?

Mastic gum has antimicrobial properties that may be effective against the type of yeast called Candida, which can lead to digestive symptoms, including bloating.

While it can help to control Candida overgrowth and potentially reduce the severity of infections caused by this yeast, it may not be enough on its own to control Candida (a specific type of diet, herbs, and medication might also be needed).

How long does it take mastic gum to work?

The time it takes for mastic gum to show effects varies depending on the person and the condition being treated. Some people start to notice improvements in their digestion and oral health within two weeks of consistent use, while for others, it takes a bit longer to experience noticeable results.

What are the side effects of mastic gum?

While mastic gum is generally safe for most people, some experience mild side effects after chewing mastic gum, such as digestive upset or allergic reactions.

It’s always advisable to start with a small amount of mastic gum to assess your tolerance before using more. You can also consult with a healthcare provider if you’re worried about interactions or allergies, especially if you have a known medical condition.

Key takeaways on mastic gum gut benefits

Mastic gum, with its rich history and potent health benefits, offers a natural solution for improving gut health and managing gastrointestinal conditions. Its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties make it a valuable addition to a natural health arsenal.

Interested in learning about mastic gum’s other benefits, such as for teeth health or defining the jawline? Learn more about mastic gum’s many uses here.

This article originally appeared online in 2024; it was most recently updated on April 20, 2024, to include current information.


Jillian Levy

Jillian Levy is a seasoned health writer and certified health coach with a decade of experience crafting informative content for leading health, wellness, and personal development brands.



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