Application cutanée, massage
Voie respiratoire, diffusion
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.
Cultivation and production
Pistacia lentiscus is present in Morocco (since the 1950s), in Algeria and in Corsica. The yields are only profitable when the tree reaches adulthood between ten and fifteen years.
The odour of essential oil of Pistacia lentiscus is intense and herbaceous.
Extraction and yield
Steam distillation of the branches and flowers gives essential oil of pistacia lentiscus. Its yield is excessively low: 0.015%, i.e. only fifteen grams of essential oil per hundred kilograms of plant, therefore its price is high.
The chemical constituents of essential oil of Pistacia lentiscus are principally monoterpenes (75%), sesquiterpenes (15%), some monoterpenols and sesquiterpenols.
A decongestant of the venous and lymphatic systems, essential oil of Pistacia lentiscus treats varicose veins and venous stasis, phlebitis and haemorrhoids.
Excerpts from the book « Aromatherapia – Tout sur les huiles essentielles », by Isabelle Pacchioni. Aroma Thera Editions.