Cistus (Cistus ladaniferus)


Family: Cistaceae

Synonyms: Rock rose, labdanum

Aroma: The essential oil has a penetrating, herbaceous woody aroma while the absolute has a powerful sweet, balsamic aroma.

Colour: The essential oil is a dark yellow to orange while the absolute is a greenish brown viscous liquid or semi-solid mass.

Cistus (Cistus ladaniferus)Plant: Shrub with sticky lance shaped leaves that are white and furry on the underside. It grows up to 3 metres with fragrant flowers that are pink or white with a glowing soft yellow or pink centre.

Main Growing Areas: Mediterranean mountainous regions, Middle East, Spain

Major Constituents: camphene, sabinene, myrcene, phellandrene, limonene, cymene

Interesting snippets: The essential oil has been used since the middle ages in ointments and compresses to treat infected wounds and skin ulcers. The gum was used for catarrh, diarrhoea, dysentery and to promote menstruation. The name rock rose comes from the plant’s resemblance to a wild rose. The flowers begin to wilt a few hours after they open but new buds appear the next day.

Part of Plant used/Extraction: Leaves and twigs are boiled in water to obtain a dark brown gum. Essential oil is extracted by steam distillation of the gum or straight from the leaves and twigs while the absolute is extracted by solvent extraction.

Therapeutic actions: Infected and inflamed skin, swollen lymph glands, eczema, psoriasis

Emotional and Spiritual: Susanne Fischer-Rizzi writes that rock rose is for those who feel, usually after a traumatic event, cold, empty or numb. The essential oil conveys deep warmth that helps melt an icy feeling.

Robbi Zeck writes that crisis enables you to rise up to deal with an issue. It can also be seen as in initiation into new beginnings and new understandings. Cistus softens the effects of emotional pain and eases the pressure of a heavy heart. Gently rub Cistus over your heart centre to bring serenity to your soul in the midst of crisis.

Contemplations for the Soul:Cistus

Have you suffered a shock whether physical, mental, emotional or spiritual recently that has left you feeling cold, empty, numb, lost or forgetful?
Do you feel like part of you is missing, lost or fragmented?
Have you been deeply wounded by the thoughtless actions or words of another?
Allow your friends, angels and nature to bring you warmth and comfort allowing you to heal and restore your sense of self.
Take time to nurture yourself, doing things that bring you joy.
Is there a lesson to be learnt from this challenge or experience?
Reflect on your experience and what it has taught you.

Safety: Non-irritating, non-sensitising, non-toxic

Sources: Battaglia S, The Complete Guide To Aromatherapy. The Perfect Potion, Australia (1995)
Berkowsky B, Berkowsky’s Synthesis Materia Medica/Spiritualis of Essential Oils (2006)
Fischer-Rizzi, S, Complete Aromatherapy Handbook. Essential Oils for Radiant Health Sterling Publishing Company (1990)
Hodges C. Contemplations for the Soul (2016)
Smith I, Cistus. In Essence Vol.6 No.3 (2007)
Zeck R, The Blossoming Heart. Aroma Tours (2004)