A regular of the maquis scrubland and garrigues, Pistacia lentiscus, also called “mastic” or “terebinth”, is a shrub of the Anacardiaceae family, which may reach three metres.
It grows in Mediterranean climates and its name derives from the Latin lentus (viscous) referring to its gum. Its leaves are green and persistent, and resemble those of the olive tree. It has a small, non-comestible fruit with a stone.
Pistacia lentiscus was used to cure all ailments or almost in the ancient pharmacopoeia. The Encyclopaedia states that its decoction “was celebrated as potable vegetable gold”. It is an interesting panacea to cure gout, stomach weaknesses, relieve stubborn vomiting, dissipate winds, expel urine and firm loose teeth”. The essential oil of Pistacia lentiscus is certainly multivalent, however its ambitions are much more limited. The Greeks still use it to perfume their ouzo. In the old days in Corsica, a “listincu” collar was put on dogs to preserve them from sickness and a branch was placed in barrels to disinfect them. This is the reason why bars in Ajaccio were identified to passers-by with a Pistacia lentiscus branch.
Essential oils, properly used, are safe and effective for many routine issues, but there can be bad, even dangerous, reactions from people who are grossly misusing them. Our advice: Study up on the different oils, their risks and benefits; consult with a licensed aromatherapist, not only the distributor for a company. Always read the fine print on the bottle, look it up on the official internet website of the brand about how to use them.
A couple of simple tips (not a complete list), includes:
Do not apply undiluted essential oils to your skin.
Do not put drops of essential oil into a bath and then step into it.
Do not ingest essential oils unless advised to do so by a practitioner who is qualified/licensed to prescribe essential oils in this way.
It is not advisable to directly and intensively inhale essential oils for longer than 15-20 minutes.
Essential oils are flammable, and should not be used in any way that involves close proximity to a naked flame or similar fire hazard.
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