It is always satisfying when you can match up a garden flower with an essential oil that you know. Cistus ladaniferus, also known as Rock Rose or Labdanum, is a small shrub that can be cultivated here in the UK but which grows wild in the mountainous regions of the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. The plant produces a gum which is extracted by boiling the leaves (and twigs), and the essential oil is then steam-distilled from this gum.
A First-Aid Essential
I first experienced Cistus after sustaining a common office injury; a frustrating little paper cut that seemed to be disproportionately painful in relation to the actual size of the cut. In response to my yelp of pain Jonathan handed me a bottle containing a viscous and very sweet smelling essential oil. Admittedly the initial application provoked an even louder yelp but within a few minutes there was almost no sign of the cut. Known for its wound healing properties, Cistus is one of the fasting-acting oils to stop bleeding from small cuts and grazes, and from then on it became on of my ‘essential’ essential oils. (Please note that of course we are not advocating the use of this oil in any way as a substitute for proper medical care.)
In addition to its healing properties Cistus also has a benefit that is of particular interest to anyone whose skin is starting to show signs of wear and tear. The essential oil is great for diminishing fine lines, wrinkles and scars, especially when blended with the carrier oil, rosa rubiginosa. The hydrolat too, is a lovely spritz for mature skin. Cistus essential oil is antiseptic, astringent and tonic and can be of great help for acneic or oily skin. It has also been effectively used for the treatment of eczema and psoriasis.
Unlocking the Spirit
Cistus has long been known to be an aid to meditation, helping to ground and centre. Both the oil and the hydrolat can be helpful for people who feel numb or cold after a trauma, and the hydrolat in particular is very popular amongst our customers who have to cope with difficult situations in their work. Just spritz a little around yourself or your workspace and feel the negative energies clunk to the floor!
Botanical name: Cistus ladaniferus
Part used: Leaves
Origin: Spain and Mediterranean
Production: Steam distillation of the gum
Note: Middle / Base
Main compounds: alpha-Pinene, Camphene, Bornyl acetate, Trimethylcyclohexanone, Ledene, trans-Pinocarveol, Paracymene, Viridiflorol