The essence of Cistus, a sovereign healing remedy with animal notes

Cistus has been known in medicine , cosmetics and aromatherapy for centuries for the quality of its gum. 25 centuries ago, Theophrastus designated this plant by the Greek word kistos which simply means capsule. The smell is reminiscent of ambergris. If the resins and essences they diffuse protect the leaves from drought, the plant can, it seems, ignite if the temperature exceeds 32 degrees.

A little history

During Antiquity, Crete was an exporter of labdanum , which is to say that this material was then a real manna . The Cretan labdanum (from Cistus villosus ) was first harvested with the help of goats, then the engineering of the time called on a tool, the ladanisterion . It looks rather like a rake in its structure. Except that instead of teeth, there are long leather straps. Indeed, using ladanisterion, we brushed cistus whose resinous gum adhered to the leather of the thongs . This modus operandi, still current, is, it seems, endemic to the territories of the Mediterranean basin.

In Spain, the coniferous branches were cut and then boiled in water. This cooking also produced a blackish product with an amber and balsamic odor: labdanum . This labdanum was very early used in perfumery , as an ointment having the virtue of beautifying the body , but also in pharmacy . This is what the Egyptians and the Carthaginians, for example, reserved for it as uses.

What are the pharmacological properties of the essence of leafy twigs of Rockrose ?

Antimicrobial property:

The immune-regulating power of cistus is in particular due to its anti-infectious , antiviral (effect demonstrated against the herpes virus HSV1), antimicrobial (effect of α-pinene demonstrated in vitro against -vis of Staphylococcus aureus , Escherichia coli , Proteus mirabilis , Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Klebsiella pneumoniae ) and antifungal (effect demonstrated on Candida albicans and dermatophytes).

Hemostatic and healing properties:

Cistus is an exceptional coagulant , which makes it a healing agent and a regenerator of skin and mucous tissue . Astringent and hemostatic , the essence can also be used pure on a cotton swab in epistaxis or on small wounds. Cistus is indeed reputed to be a powerful antihemorrhagic .

Expectorant property:

The α-pinene is expectorant reducing bronchial secretions and inhibits acetylcholinesterase thereby degrades acetylcholine, deficient in the Alzheimer disease .

Skin properties:

Usable in dermatology and immunology, cistus essence also prevents skin aging . Its action is therefore targeted on tissues of ectodermal origin (skin, central nervous system, sense organs, endocrine glands and adrenal medulla).

Circulatory property:

Cistus develops collateral arteriovenous circulation , this action is indeed beneficial on the venous wall, by increasing the elasticity of large dilated trunks (varicose veins, arteritis). Lymphotonic and decongestant , cistus essence is also lipolytic (useful for dissolving lipid bronchial mucus of food origin, as well as accumulations of dermal fat).

Anti-inflammatory property:

Vascular anti-inflammatory , cistus is also cortison-like . In fact, it is a stimulant of the pituitary-adrenal cortex axis, useful in prolonged inflammatory states .

Other properties:

  • Neurotonic, neurovegetative regulator, harmonization of pƩ (positive, because monoterpenes ionize positively)
  • Anti degenerative
  • Desclerosing
  • Central action on rhythms: reordering, internal restructuring (physical, biological, immune, emotional as well as psychological)

Does the essence of Cistus labdanifère require precautions for use?

  • Do not diffuse, inhale, or put in the bath water
  • Do not swallow
  • Contraindicated in pregnant or breastfeeding women
  • Reserved for adults
  • Risk of neurotoxicity which may induce epileptic seizures at high doses
  • Not suitable for the treatment of large wounds
  • Potential interaction with anticoagulant treatments, ask your pharmacist for advice
  • Cortison-like, do not combine with cortisone due to the risk of drug interaction
  • Drug interactions with essential oils containing sesquiterpenes (sesquiterpene hydrocarbons) at more than 10%
  • No internal use
  • Pure dermocausticity, dilution required
  • Prohibited in animals

Medical bibliographic sources and clinical trials :

  • Paul-Georges Rossi, Liliane Berti, Jean Panighi, Anne Luciani, Jacques Maury, Alain Muselli, Dominique de Rocca Serra, Marcelle Gonny, Jean-Michel Bolla but. Antibacterial Action of Essential Oils from Corsica. Journal of Essential Oil Research, Volume 19, Issue 2, 2007
  • GE Bergonzelli, D. Donnicola, N. Porta hence, IE Corthésy-Theulaz. Essential Oils as Components of a Diet-Based Approach to Management of Helicobacter Infection. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2003
  • JP Mariotti, F. Tomi, J. Casanova, J. Costa, AF Bernardini. Composition of the Essential Oil of Cistus ladaniferus L. Cultivated in Corsica (France). 1997
  • PG Rossi, L. Berti, J. Panighi, A. Luciani, J. Maury therefore, A. Muselli, D. de Rocca Serra, M. Gonny & JM Bolla mais; Antibacterial Action of Essential Oils from Corsica – Journal of Essential Oil Research, 2007



Clementine. M.
Naturopath – Aromatherapist / Herbalist – Phytotherapist
Consultant in Clinical Phyto-aromatherapy and Ethnomedicine

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