Cistus, Labdanum (Cistus ladaniferus)

A perennial shrub up to 3 metres high which grows wild in warm sheltered places on some mountainous Mediterranean islands and in the Middle East. The leaves are lance-shaped with white furry undersides, and the flowers are yellow with purple splashes at the center. The parts used for extraction are leaves and twigs.

Cistus produces 5 products:

  1. Crude gum of Labdanum: Dried leaves and twigs are boilde in water. The gum is skimmed off the surface of the water and dried. This is used as a herbal substitute for ambergris.
  2. Resinoid of Labdanum: The crude gum is mixed with alcohol and filtered.
  3. Oil of Labdanum: Essential oil by steam-distilling the crude gum. This oil is used by aromatherapists. It is also a highly valued raw material for perfumers.
  4. Concrète & Absolute of Labdanum: The dried leaves and twigs are extracted with the help of a solvent. This is widely used in cosmetics, perfumes and soaps as a warm balsamic scent with excellent fixative properties.
  5. Oil of Labdnum: Essential oil by steam-distilling dried and fresh leaves and twigs. This is of little use for either perfumery or aromatherapy.

The oil has been used since the middle ages for infected wounds, skin ulcers, skin and soft tissue disturbances. The gum was used for catarrh and diarrhoea.

The scent is warm, deep, musky, soothing and dry. Yang.

In aromatherapy its used for:

  • Lymph drainage: When added to a massage oil for a full body massage. Or locally as warm compresses on swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
  • Menstrual pain: In combination with Marjoram (origanum majorana) as a massage oil or warm compresses over the abdomen.
  • Skin: Mature, wrinkled skin, rough, scarred and hard skin. Use for healing of wounds and scars; with Lavender (lavandula augustifolia), Imortelle (helichrysum italicum) or Frankincense (boswellia carterii). It might be helpful for eczema, inflamed skin and psoriasis. Remember to use lower doses on sensitive/inflamed skin.
  • Respiratory: As an inhalant for coughs and bronchitis.
  • Emotionally: After shock or trauma when the emotional system is cold or empty. Also to sooth and heal past or buried memories. It fills the individual with warmth and strength.

Do not use during pregnancy.

Published by Body & Mind Balance

Aroma-therapist, Botanical skin care and perfumes, Inspiring speaker and coach for personal development. Workshops and one-on-one sessions. I am a horseback archer who likes to play with fire and sew costumes.

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