Whenever anyone hears the name of pistachio, long or round dried nut comes to their mind. Recognizing different types and species is kind of hard for them. Even though there are many pistachio experts and business people who are earning money from pistachio business annually, but some of them may know about various species and benefits of them. In this article, it is tried to give some basic information about pistachio species and usages of each one and Iranian pistachio genera in particular.
Pistachio Genera and Species
The anacardiaceae family, also known as cashew family includes about 70 genera and over 600 species. “Pistacia” (scientific name of Pistachio) as a genus of flowering plants contains around 20 species and among them five are more popular, including: P.Vera, P.Atlantica, P.Terebinthus, P.Khinjuk and P.Terebinthus. the specifications of genus “pistacia” species include: being evergreen and deciduous resin-bearing bushes, also xerophytic trees which grow to 10 m tall.
Among these wide varieties of species, three of them are naturally in Iran: P.Vera, P.Khinjuk stocks, and P.Atlantica Desf. P.Atlantica includes three sub spices and P.Vera is the only genus which has commercial use in huge amount. Rootstock for P.Vera is mostly from the other species.
Parts of Tree and Their Benefits
Each tree includes different parts that all are useful. Fruit, leaves, resin and aerial part are different parts of pistachio plants and each one can be used for various purposes. Lots of studies have ever been done to prove the benefits of pistachio fruits in particular and also other parts. Usages of these species in different fields have been considered in scientific studies. Nowadays they are hugely used in traditional medicine, pharmacological activities, hepatoprotectives activities and also beneficial effects in gestrointemical disorders. As an example, mastic also called as Arabic and Yemen gum, is obtained from the mastic tree, devoted to the resin of P.Lentiscus. It is an example of pharmacological activity.
Food industry is also a main field of using these species. Food additive are mostly consumed from P.vera nuts. To make coffee-like drinks or snack food, P.terebinthus fruits are used and also food colorants are made of P.Lentiscus species fruit.
As it was mentioned above, different plant parts are used for different purposes. Not only the purpose depends on parts of plants, but also its region is essential too.
P.lentiscus as the most common species grow in different regions. Based on statistic, its resin is used in medicine for variety of treatment. It is mostly used in Iran as breath deodorizer, and gastrointestinal ailments, Gum tissue strengthener, brain and liver tonic. It is also proved that that resin of P.lentiscus has been used for around 5000 years.
In case of P.atlantica, it is reported that different parts of it, specifically resin, are hugely using in Iran as a treatment for kidney disease, digestive and hepatic. Its fruit is utilized in Iran as Antidiarrheal, its aerial part in Veterinary, and its resin as a treatment of huge number of health problem including: stomach, liver and kidneys tonic, appetizer, phlegm dissolver, mouth freshener, antiseptic, gastrointestinal disorders, Peptic ulcer, gum tissue strengthener, as chewing gum, astringent, laxative, demulcent, diuretic, emmenagogue, carminative, visceral inflammation, scabies, stomach, gastrointestinal disorders, and motion sickness.
Different parts of P.terebinthus species are using in some countries such as Greece, Iran, Jordan, turkey and Spain. The smoke of its resin is usually used as air antiseptic and purifier in Iran. Pistachio fruit which is used all over the world is P.Vera species fruit. It used cultivated and commercially traded in Mediterranean countries such as Turkey, Syria, Spain, Italy, in Middle East including Iran, and Afghanistan, and United States. Iranians are used to consuming different parts of P.khinjuk,P.Vera, P.lentiscus, P.atlantica and P.terebintus as a traditional treatment and remedy, as an example The P.Vera nut shell is mostly used in Iran as Sedative, tonic and antidiarrheal, and its fruit as food. Areal part of P.khinjuk has veterinary use. Brain and gastrointestinal disorders alongside wound healing can be treated by the gum resin of P. terebinthus, P. lentiscus, P. khinjuk, and P. atlantica. Except P.Vera fruit, the other species fruit are used as a liver, heart, kidney and respiratory system disorders remedy and P.vera fruit kernel is utilized as brain, stomach, cardiac and hepatic tonic. Also Iran is the second biggest exporters and producers of Pistachio nut in the world. Historical reports indicate that pistachio was firstly used as a food around 7000 B.C.
Phytochemical analyses of pistachio species identified different compounds. One of the main constituent of various part of pistachio is essential oil. It is driven from different parts including twigs, galls, flowers, ripe and unripe fruit, resin, leaves and leaf-buds. The content of essential oil is varied in quality and quantity. What makes differences between them depends on various items including time of harvesting, climate condition, geographical origin, species of plant and its part, and sex of cultivars. There are around 63 compounds with the structure of Monoterpenoids, sesquiterpenoids, and volatile oil based on the plant part and species. Traditional appliance of mentioned species is also proved by phytochemical studies. Among all formation of essential oil, triterpenes found in resin and also monoterpens are the most plentiful composition which are driven from different parts of given species. To find different chemotypes of pistachio, some chemotaxonomic markers can be used, which essential oil components might be worthful. therapeutic results of isolated part are proved and as a result terpenoids including mono, di-, and triterpenoids have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects. Effective antioxidant and anticancer activities are also associated with the high amount of flavonoids and phenols.
The genus Pistacia L found as a great source of medicinally molecules scientifically based on pharmacological studies on some pure metabolites, crude plant part and extracts.
P. atlantica, P. vera, P. terebinthus and P. khinjuk. And in particular P. lentiscus were used as studied species to investigate their antioxidant effects. The results show anthocyanins, flavonoids and other phenolic compounds have preventive results on treatment of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.