I would like to meet someone who will tell me that he or she hasn’t ever chewed gum. Most of us did – when we were young, and continue to do so even today. The difference is – when we were small we blew bubbles, and now we chew gum for different reasons.

We know chewing gum existed in the ‘Neolithic’ period – almost 5000 years ago. But modern chewing gum was developed in the 1860s when ‘chicle’ was exported from Mexico as a rubber substitute. Most gum manufacturers have since switched to synthetic gum bases for reasons of cost.

Chewing gum has a long history. And more importantly it has a great future.

One of the first instances of chewing gum actually providing a health benefit was when The United States military regularly supplied soldiers with chewing gum  during World War II, because it helped both to improve the soldiers’ concentration and to relieve stress.

In the 60s and 70s, chewing gum was a product which people consumed for two reasons. The first reason was ‘just fun’ – you didn’t chew gum for any reason, but just for fun. Later, chewing gum had a very distinct use – that of a mouth freshener.

Towards the beginning of the 80s, functional gums were introduced (they were there for many years, but this period saw some very serious work in the area of functional gums).

The first kind of functional gums were ‘dental care’ gums. Chewing gum manufacturers claimed that chewing gum could perform the same function that a tooth brush and tooth paste did every morning. So, instead of brushing your teeth each morning, you could actually have a dental gum!

There is also medical research that proves that chewing three to four ‘pellets’ of ‘Xylitol’ gums can actually help prevent ‘dental caries’ (tooth decay disease, prevalent in many developing countries including India).

Then we have the ‘Nicotine Gum’ a boon for all those that want to quit smoking. So when you have the urge to smoke you simply consume some Nicotine by chewing a Nicotine gum, and relieve your craving.

Chewing gum has a promising future – in the pharmaceuticals industry, in the form of medicated gums. And this thought is really very exciting. You already have ‘OTC’ or ‘Over The Counter’ medicines that are available in the form of chewing gum. And what kind of medicines are these that we can now consume by simply chewing gum?

These are vitamin and herbal supplements, anti-motion sickness medicines, digestive supplements, and what have you. While chewing gum, you can now even have supplements to aid breast enhancement. And theoretically – you can even have ‘VIAGRA’ in the form of chewing gum! (Wrigley filed a patent in 2003, for VIAGRA GUM).

Imagine – that in the very near future you can have a ‘Digene’ or a ‘Gelusil’ or a ‘Hajmola’ in the form of chewing gum….

The ultimate destination for chewing gum of course is to pave a way for itself in the ‘Novel Drug Delivery Systems’

This means – you can have all the unpleasant, bitter medicines – the actual pharma drugs, by simply chewing gum.

Imagine administering an anti biotic to a small child who will gladly chew gum, without even being remotely aware that he or she is having a medicine. Technology will ensure that the bitter taste of medicine will be masked, and to the child – it will be – well – chewing gum !

In India, chewing gum is considered ‘bad manners’ in many sections of society across the Country.

It’s high time we stopped thinking that way. Chewing gum can actually benefit us in so many ways, only some of which have been discussed above.

With the hundreds of uses of gum – all good for health, why chew paan or paan masaala or ‘gukta’?

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