Preparations: Pills of Aloes and Mastic
"A concrete, resinous exudation from Pistacia Lentiscus, Linné"—(U. S. P.).
COMMON NAMES: Mastic, Mastich.
ILLUSTRATION: Bentley and Trimen, Med. Plants, 68.
Botanical Source.—The Lentisk, or Mastic-tree, is a mere bush, rarely attaining a height greater than 12 feet, and from 6 to 10 inches in diameter. The leaves are evergreen, and equally pinnate; the leaflets, 8 to 12 in number, usually alternate, with the exception of the two upper, which are opposite, oval, lanceolate, obtuse, often mucronate, entire, and perfectly smooth. The flowers are very small, in axillary panicles, and dioecious; the raceme of the males is amentaceous with 1-flowered bracts; calyx 5-cleft; stamens 5; anthers subsessile and 4-cornered; the females' raceme more lax; calyx 3-cleft; ovary 1 to 3-celled; stigmas 3, and rather thick. The fruit is a very small, pea-shaped drupe, reddish when ripe, with a smooth, somewhat bony nut (L.).
History and Description.—This plant inhabits the south of Europe, north of Africa and the Levant, and abounds particularly on the island of Chios, where it is called "shinia," and from whence the bulk of the drug comes; about 120,000 pounds annually. Pistacia Lentiscus also grows in the island of Cyprus, where the leaves are collected and exported for the purposes of tanning and dyeing. They contain from 10 to 12 per cent of tannic acid. The seeds are eaten by goats and pigs, and yield a fatty oil used for burning purposes. When transverse incisions are made into the bark of the male plant, in the month of August, a fluid exudes, which soon concretes into yellowish, translucent, brittle grains.
There are two kinds of mastic in commerce, the picked mastic and mastic in sorts. The former is the finer variety. Good mastic is described by the U. S. P. as being in "globular or elongated tears, of about the size of a pea, sometimes covered with a whitish dust, pale-yellow, transparent, having a glass-like luster and an opalescent refraction; brittle; becoming plastic when chewed; of a weak, somewhat balsamic, resinous odor, and a mild, terebinthinate taste. Mastic is completely soluble in ether, and, for the most part, soluble in alcohol"—(U. S. P.). It is also soluble in oil of turpentine, or chloroform, insoluble in water. Boiling alcohol dissolves from it a resinous acid to the amount of eight-tenths of its weight, and leaves a white, ductile substance possessing properties similar to caoutchouc, and which is soluble in ether, or boiling absolute alcohol. Carbon disulphide dissolves about 75 per cent of mastic. At a moderate heat (below 120° C. or 248° F.), it melts, and at a higher temperature it burns with a clear flame and balsamic fumes. It has a specific gravity of 1.074. The mastic in sorts is a coarser kind, and is composed of many tears agglutinated together, varying in color from pale-yellow to grayish-brown and black, together with pieces of wood, bark, and sand.
Chemical Composition.—Mastic contains 2 per cent of an essential oil; according to Flückiger, it is dextro-rotatory and chiefly composed of a terpene (C10H16), boiling from 155° to 160° C. (311° to 320° F.). The principal constituent of mastic is a resin which was differentiated by Johnston (Phil. Trans. 1839) into alcohol-soluble alpha-resin (mastichic acid), about 80 per cent, and alcohol-insoluble beta-resin (masticin), the latter being tough and elastic, soluble in ether and in absolute alcohol, also in alcoholic solution of mastichic acid. According to E. Reichardt (Archiv der Pharm., 1888, p. 158), benzin effects the differentiation of mastic resin more readily and more completely than alcohol. Old mastic yielded to benzin 66 per cent, while new mastic yielded 90 per cent. Analysis showed that the insoluble resin is formed by the gradual oxidation of the soluble portion. Mastic also contains a bitter principle, soluble in boiling water; it is precipitated by solutions of tannic acid.
Action and Medical Uses.—Mastic is seldom employed in medicine, though it was formerly employed in renal and bronchial catarrhs. The Turks used it as a masticatory to sweeten the breath and strengthen the gums. It is sometimes employed by dentists to fill the cavities of decayed teeth. The following preparation is recommended for this purpose: Take of pulverized mastic, 9 parts; sulphuric ether, 4 parts; mix, and digest for several days, strain it through a cloth, and add native alum, in fine powder, a sufficient quantity to form a plastic mass, with which vials holding about 2 drachms are to be filled, having first poured into each about 30 grains of camphorated alcohol, and 15 grains of essence of cloves. This substance, introduced into the cavity of a carious tooth, first well cleansed and dried, is extremely useful on account of the great degree of hardness it acquires, An ounce of mastic, and 1/2 drachm of caoutchouc, dissolved in 4 fluid ounces of chloroform, and then filtered under cover to prevent the evaporation of the chloroform, forms an elegant microscopic cement. Another formula for dental mastic is as follows: Dissolve 4 parts of mastic and 2.5 parts of balsam of Peru in 7 parts of chloroform (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1885, p. 241, from L'Union Pharm., 1885). A solution of mastic in alcohol, or oil of turpentine, forms an elegant varnish. Such a solution may be used to arrest slight hemorrhages from wounds, leech bites, etc.
Related Products.—BOMBAY MASTIC, or East Indian mastic. This exudes from the Pistacia Khinjuk, Stocks, and the Pistacia cabulica, Stocks (Pistacia Terebinthus, Linné. of Kabul, Beloochistan, and Sind. In the Indian bazaars it is known as Mustagi-rúmí or Roman mastich. It very much resembles true mastic, but is usually more opaque and not so clean as that product. The same species, Pistacia Terebinthus, also grows in the islands of Chios and Cyprus, and yields Chian turpentine. The mode of its cultivation, etc., is described in Proc. Amer. Pharm. Assoc., 1897, p. 563. Chian turpentine contains from 9 to 12 per cent of volatile oil (Wigner, 1880). The Arabs of North Africa gather from an Algerian plant, the Pistacia Terebinthus, Linné, var. Atlantica, Desfontaines, a product similar to mastic.
SANDARACH.—Sandaraca, Sandarac. A northwest African tree, the Callitris quadrivalvis, Ventenat (Thuja articulata, Vahl), Nat. Ord.—Coniferae, yields tears of sandarac by spontaneous exudation. They are brittle, elongated, light-yellow. and have a dusty appearance. When masticated they crumble to a powder, are translucent, have a vitreous fracture, and are almost completely dissolved by alcohol. Sandarac is also soluble in ether, amyl alcohol and acetone, partly soluble in carbon disulphide, also soluble in considerable quantity in hot solution of caustic soda. The freshly exuding resin contains notable quantities of essential oil which evaporates, however, as the tears are exposed (Flückiger, Pharmacognosie, 1891, p. 108). Their odor is therefore feeble, unless the product be heated when it becomes balsamic; the taste is resin-like and subacrid. It is inflammable. Sandarac is said to be composed of 3 resins, which may be differentiated by their behavior toward solvents. One of these resins is Giese's sandaracin. Like mastic, sandarac resin contains small quantities of a bitter principle.
Australian sandarach is physically very similar to the foregoing. It is obtained in Tasmania and Australia.
PSEUDO-MASTICH.—Acantho-mastich. Agglutinated tears of an exudation from the Atractylis gummifera. It comes in masses about the size of a small egg. It is employed in Greece.
King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.