Publicaciones

Bol. R. Soc. Esp. Hist. Nat. 115, 2021. (publicado online)


Estudios

Publicado online el 05-01-2021

Almástiga y Mirra. De la planta a la higiene bucal


Mastic and Myrrh from the tree to the oral Hygiene

Mª. E. Gil-Merlo, Mª. C. Matallana-González & Mª. E. Torija-Isasa

Bol. R. Soc. Esp. Hist. Nat. 115. Publicacin online (05-01-2021)

Resumen

La almástiga y la mirra son dos productos de origen vegetal, dos resinas que se han utilizado a lo largo de la historia, solas o junto con otros ingredientes, con diferentes fines como la conservación y momificación de cadáveres, enmascarar el mal olor corporal o los relacionados con la higiene y la salud corporal. En este trabajo nos hemos centrado principalmente en su uso, desde la antigüedad, en relación con la higiene y salud bucodental. Se describe su uso con fines sanitarios en las Tablillas de arcilla de Mesopotamia (2000 a.C.) y en el Papiro de Ebers (s. XVI a.C.); en este último se describe el uso del kyphi como masticatorio para perfumar y desinfectar la boca. En el mundo Islámico Abu ´l Qasim Khalaf ibn ´Abbas al-Zahrawi, conocido como Abulcasis (s.X) diseñó instrumentos para retirar la placa dental como el mijrad y un fórceps para sacar los dientes, así como una técnica para entrelazar y sujetarlos y Avenzoar (s.XI) escribió sobre tratamientos para limpiar los dientes, entre las que estaba la almástiga.

Palabras clave: Almástiga, Mirra, Higiene y Salud Bucal

Abstract

Mastic and myrrh are trees’ origin’ products. Myrrh tree’ scientific name is comyphora mirra and mastic tree’ scientific name is Pistacia lentiscus. Both, mastic and myrrh have been profusely used alone or with other ingredients. Ancient Mediterranean cultures like Egyptian, Ancient Greece, Roman Empire or Mesopotamia have been dealing with those products, in that way Phoenicians were the most famous in the commerce through the Mediterranean’ sea. Furthermore, Egyptian were famous for their mummification rites, to preserve dead bodies’ decomposition, myrrh is one of the most important ingredients used in the mummification process. In the other hand, mastic and myrrh have been known as being part of different medical treatment. In this respect the Mesopotamian Clay Tablet (2000 years B.C.), mention the use of those compounds in medicine and The Ebers Papyrus (XVI B.C. century) describe the Kyphi utility of mastic and myrrh as a chewing gum or as a gargling, in order to clean, disinfect and give off an odor in the mouth. Different literature´s authors have related the use of mastic and myrrh in different ways. The first one as an aromatic spice in order to control body or mouth stink. Hipócrates (V B.C. century) in his humor theory (Corpus Hipocraticum) recommended gargling and chewing made with mastic, myrrh and other ingredients to throw out mouth’ stink. The second one is cited on The Bible by his use in traditional religious rites like the Jewish body preservation rites, the Catholic sacrament of the lasts rites given before dying, or the narcotic effect of wine mixed with myrrh that offered to Jesus during the Crucifixion. Along these lines, Dioscórides (IICentury) wrote that by adding to the wine a small amount of myrrh could be a remedy for dry coughs and indigestion. We focused this paper in their utility to provide health in mouth and teeth’ diseases. Therefore, since ancient times, authors like Gaius Plinius Secundus recommended a poultice made with myrrh mixed with ash to clean teeth. Abulcasis (s.X) and Avenzoar (s.XI) (Ancient Islamic Culture) wrote about different tools and treatment to preserve teeth from illness as mijrad, with different ingredients, one of them was mastic, to polish teeth. Four hundred years after, Laguna (1555) worked in translation of Dioscórides’ book (s.I) and wrote some additional comments in which he wrote about the use of mastic to control fetid breath. In the Spanish literature, there are some authors that make reference to the use of mastic and myrrh. Two of them are Celestina, the protagonist in La Tragicomedia de Calisto y Melibea, first published in 1499 (Rojas 1990) and Aldonza Lorenzo the protagonist in La Lozana Andaluza, first published in 1528 (Delicado, 2004). Both of them are sorceress-mender that made potions with mastic and myrrh used in different treatments related with mouth and tooth illness. They recommend oils and different kind of waters like rainwater or bitter mastic water to rinse the mouth after meals in addition, it recommends the use of toothpick, made with different kind of wood like fennel, juniper, walnut, weed o mastic among others.

Keywords: Mastic, Myrrh, Oral Hygienic and Health.





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(c) Real Sociedad Española de Historia Natural. Facultades de Biología y Geología. Universidad Complutense de Madrid. 28040-Madrid - e-mail: rsehno@bio.ucm.es