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Cistus Ladaniferous (Cistus ladaniferus)

Cistus Ladaniferous

Cistus ladaniferus

Cistus, a woody shrub of the Cistaceae family, grows in the Mediterranean basin on poor soil, especially in Spain (Cistus ladaniférus), Syria (Cistus syriacus), Crete (Cstus incarnus ssp creticus) and Cyprus (Cistus cyprius).

Its very fragrant flowers blossom from April to June. Two of its species (Cistus creticus and Cistus monspeliensis) with white and pink flowers, fill the Corsican scrub land with scent which prompted Napoleon to say that he would recognise his island eyes closed by its perfume. Attempts have been made at cultivating it but without convincing results, due to the prohibitive production costs.


Main aromatic molecules: Monoterpenes including α-pinene, terpene alcohols, esters, acetophenones.
Family: Cistaceae.
Producing organs: Leafy twigs.
Yield: 20g of essential oil per 100kg of plants.
Equivalence : 1ml → 34 drops (dosage calculated for a calibrated dropper European Pharmacopoeia).

  • Bath Bath
  • Skin application Skin application
  • Oral route Oral route
  • Respiratory route Respiratory route

Main properties

Thanks to its astringent, wound healing and antiseptic properties, essential oil of cistus stops haemorrhages, favours healing of any superficial skin wound and avoids secondary infection. Anti-infectious, anti-viral and anti-bacterial, it fights childhood viral infections, whooping cough, measles, scarlet fever and chicken pox and in general it reduces the "tendency to catch anything that passes by.

Find all the virtues and uses of essential oils in our tips section.


Epistaxis (nosebleed)
Place 2 drops of essential oil of cistus on a cotton tip and apply in the nostril to stop the bleeding. You may also soak a cotton wick and leave it in the nostril.

Swallow 1 drop of essential oil of cistus placed on a neutral tablet or in a teaspoon of olive oil or honey, or on a small sugar lump and allow to melt in the mouth three to four times daily.

Apply 2 drops of essential oil of cistus on a wound to stop the bleeding. In case of haemorrhage, place 2 drops on a clean cloth and apply to the skin.


Cistus is well adapted for culture in a Mediterranean climate. Spain is the largest producer of the labdanum gum, i.e. three hundred to three hundred and fifty tonnes a year.


The perfume industry uses its powerful smell to create perfumes of the cypress or amber family.


The leafy hardwood twigs are distilled to obtain the essential oil, with a yield of 0.02%, i.e. twenty grams of essential oil per hundred kilograms of plant. If only the labdanum or gum, used as a wound healer in phytotherapy, is desired, the twigs are dipped in hot bicarbonated water.


The most remarkable components of Spanish cistus are monoterpenes (50%), diterpene alcohols, esters, acetophenones and lactones.

Precautions for use

Essential oil of cistus must not be used in case of anticoagulant treatment.

Do not use in: pregnant or breast-feeding women, children under the age of three years and under the age of seven years for internal administration (ketones), persons with epilepsy in a prolonged fashion (ketones) persons allergic to one of its components, persons with asthma without the advice of an allergologist before the first use.


Cistus ladaniferus pineniferum.

Cistus has managed to surprise two great men: the father of history and the father of botany. Herodotus said "It has a very pleasant perfume even though it comes from a obtained from a foul smelling place, as it is gathered from the beard of bucks. When the animals come out from the scrub, it sticks to them like glue." Cistus secretes a gum, labdanum, term derived from the syrophoenician ladan, "glue herb". The Greeks preferred using leather strip whips for harvesting. Linnaeus was surprised by the exceptional number of species, there are more than three hundred! The ancients used cistus in fumigation and for its "astringent virtue" that stopped bleeding. They also liked its animal smell: Pliny wrote "Pure, cistus should have a wild scent and smell of the desert".


Extracts from the book 'Aromatherapia - All about essential oils', by Isabelle Pacchioni, watercolors by Patrick MORIN, Aroma Thera Editions . Extracts from the book '41 essential oils essential for treating yourself differently' and '48 essential oils which every home needs to be healthy' by Isabelle Delaleu and Isabelle Pacchioni, Publications of the Mandadori France group. Botanical illustrations by Agathe Haevermans.

The properties, benefits and method of use are given for information; they cannot in any case constitute or replace medical information that only health professionals can provide. For any use of essential oils for therapeutic purposes, please consult your GP or pharmacist.
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