Other names: labdanum (not to be confused with "Laudanum", another name for tincture of opium), rock rose, gum rock rose
Latin name: Cistus ladaniferus
Botanical family: Cistaceae
Method of extraction: distillation of the gum obtained by boiling the leaves and branches
Plant part used to extract the oil: leaves and branches
Cultivation method: organic farming
Area of origin: Nea Tenedos, Central Macedonia, Greece
Cistus seeds are contained in a round pod divided into 7 to 10 smaller compartments. It might be that the name of the plant is derived from this observation as the Greek word “kístē” means “box”. “Kísthos” is indeed the Greek word for cistus!
There is no doubt that the plant, which is native to the Eastern Mediterranean area, especially some Greek islands, (e.g. Crete) and Middle East, must have been known and used for centuries. It has even been mentioned in the famous Ebers papyrus (dated around 1550 BCE). The gum - in ancient Greek referred to as“lídanon” (λήδανον) or “ládanon” (λάδανον) and known as “ladanum” by the Arabs - was used in worship rituals and as incense. Herodotus, an ancient Greek writer, geographer and historian (5th Century AD) recorded how the ‘resin’ was collected in his days. As it would stick to the coats of the grazing animals, shephers would comb it out from the beards of their goats once the animals had their fill. It was used in various ointments. Hippocrates, Dioscorides and later Roman encyclopaedistCelsus( c. ... 25 BC – c. ... 50 AD) known for his extant medical work, “De Medicina” - all mention cistus in their writings.
While the gum is now separated by boiling the twigs and leaves, it can also be obtained with a rake-like tool with long strands of leather - known as the “ladanisterion” or “ergastiri” beingpulled through the shrubs. The sticky residue would adhere to the strands from which it can be then scraped off.
Biochemical group: monoterpene
Main chemical constituents: alpha-pinene, camphehe, para-cymene, bornyl acetate, trans-pinocarveol, trimethylcyclohexanone, borneol, globulol, limonene,dehydropara-cymene, isopinocamphone, gamma-terpinene, 1,8-cineole, verbenene, terpinene-4-ol
Qualified aromatherapists may use cistus essential oil for common complaints such as:
emotional issues such as emotional crisis, when in need of calming and comfort or to enhance meditation practice
lymphatic system – swollen lymph nodes and to improve lymphatic draining in massage
skin care applications to assist with wound healing, bedsores, ulcers, eczema and psoriasis as well as acne, oily skin and wrinkles; it is thought to be the fastest acting styptic oils (stops bleeding)
others, e.g. cistus is used in perfumery as a fixative and fragrance component.
How we use it:
Inhalation / Vapourisation:
- Vapourise a couple of drops or use in an aroma inhaler for stress and stress-related issues Try blended with lavender, frankincense, myrrh or our gorgeous helichrysum!
- Vapourise a couple of drops to enhance meditation. Try in combination with a drop of frankincense, Australian sandalwood, cedarwood or our Greek black pine.
- For skin care and wound healing combine with helichrysum, lavender, patchouli and/or frankincense – dilute appropriately in rosehip oil or other suitable oil or cream.