Cistus Essential Oil

Type of plant: Bush growing to 10 feet in height and having large, fragrant, white flowers

Part used: Fresh flowering plant, flowers, young branches, and leaves/gum

Method of extraction: Steam distillation

Data: There is a great deal of confusion regarding this essential oil because the plant it comes from (often called rockrose) is processed in so many ways — each producing a different essential oil. The essential oil referred to here is produced by steam distillation from the fresh fragrant flowers and leafy branches. This is an entirely different oil from one made in the following ways: (a) The leaves and twigs are boiled in water, producing a gum on the surface; this is skimmed off and dried; the result is the crude gum, which is steam distilled. (b) Oil is steam distilled directly from the leaves and twigs and smells of pine. (c) A concrete, or absolute, is processed differently, again from the leaves and twigs, using a solvent. All these oils will have Cistus ladaniferus as their botanical source, but will be entirely different essential oils. To confuse things further, there is a flower essence called rockrose, which is actually from the plant Helianthemum canadense. When purchasing the essential oil of cistus, check that it’s produced by steam distillation.

Principal places of production: France, Spain, Cyprus, Morocco, Greece, Portugal

When buying look for: Liquid ranging from dark yellow through amber to brown with a rich, resinous, warm, amber, herbaceous aroma

Therapeutic properties: Analgesic, antibacterial, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, calmative, cicatrizing, immunostimulant

Therapeutic uses: Viral infection, influenza, bronchial conditions, joint aches and pains, muscular pain, arthritis, cuts, wounds, pimples, acne, scarring, nervousness, tension, stress

Blends well with: Bay laurel, cananga, carrot seed, cedarwood atlas, chamomile roman, clary sage, cypress, elemi, eucalyptus lemon, frankincense, geranium, grapefruit, immortelle, lavandin, lavender, lemon, myrrh, orange (sweet), palmarosa, pine, ravintsara, rosewood, sage (Greek), sandalwood, tangerine, ylang ylang, yuzu

Precautionary advice: Best avoided during pregnancy.