Cistanche Dosage: The Complete Guide

Cistanche is a medicinal herb traditionally used to enhance immunity, boost fertility and sexual wellness, and support brain function and healthy aging.  Many individuals today are interested in supplementing with …

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Written by: Jack Cincotta, MS
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Medical Review by: Daniel Powers, MS
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Cistanche is a medicinal herb traditionally used to enhance immunity, boost fertility and sexual wellness, and support brain function and healthy aging. 

Many individuals today are interested in supplementing with Cistanche to boost testosterone, improve fertility, aid digestion, and promote better health overall.

This article covers the ideal Cistanche dosage to use to provide health benefits. We’ll go over the best doses to use for various conditions, the best time to take it, and what supplement forms are best.

cistanche dosage and safety

Cistanche Overview:

Cistanche is a parasitic herb that attaches to the roots of various shrubs and trees that grow in the desert. It thrives in extreme climate conditions; mainly in areas that are very dry, intensely sunny, and have nutrient-poor soil. 

As such, it’s found primarily in the various arid, desert regions in North Africa, the Middle East, and various arid regions and deserts of northwestern China. 

While there are 22 types of Cistanche, the two that are used in traditional medicine are Cistanche deserticola and Cistanche tubulosa. Cistanche deserticola was the form first used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, but Cistanche tubulosa is now considered an effective alternative due to the fact that it has similar bioactive compounds. 

Some of the main bioactive compounds found in Cistanche are:

  • Phenylethanoid Glycosides
  • Iridoids
  • Lignans
  • Alditols
  • Cistanosides
  • Polysaccharides
  • Oligosaccharides

Among these, the phenylethanoid glycosides, such as echinacoside, appear to confer the most benefits.

You can read more about cistanche in our in-depth article here.

cistanche benefits

Cistanche Dosage:

There aren’t many clinical trials on Cistanche, which makes it difficult to determine an ideal dosage. 

The information below in each subsection helps to identify best dosage of Cistanche for specific health benefits. 

Cistanche Benefits for Brain Function

Limited clinical trials show that Cistanche may improve brain function and cognition.

One small clinical trial on individuals with moderate Alzheimer’s disease showed that taking 600mg of Cistanche three times per day for 48 weeks led to better long-term brain health and daily living functions. In fact, this dose seemed to work just as well as some of the common prescribed drugs for Alzheimer’s.

In a clinical trial on 190 individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome, subjects were given a low-dose or high-dose combination of Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) and Cistanche. The low-dose group was given 120mg of Ginkgo and 300mg of Cistanche; while the high-dose group received 180mg of Ginkgo and 450mg of Cistanche. They found that both groups experienced significant reductions in mental fatigue compared to the placebo group. 

An animal study found that 50mg/kg of Cistanche led to notable anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and cognition-protective effects in rats. Based on an animal to human dosage conversion chart, this equates to a cistanche dosage of 400mg to 800mg per day for most individuals.

Cistanche Dosage for Brain Function

Based on these studies overall, anywhere from 450mg to 1,800mg of Cistanche appears beneficial for brain health.


Clinical research has found that Cistanche may support cognitive function.

The recommended Cistanche dosage for brain health is within the range of 450mg to 1,800mg daily.

Cistanche Benefits for Testosterone & Fertility

Unfortunately, there aren’t any clinical trials detailing the effects of Cistanche on testosterone production. However, one can make educated dosage translations based on animal studies.

In one rat study, researchers found that Cistanche increased testosterone levels at three different dose levels (0.2, 0.4, and 0.8g/kg of body weight). However, only the 0.4 and 0.8g/kg doses significantly increased sperm count and overall sperm health. This would equate to roughly 2,500 to 5,000mg daily for a 175lb man, assuming the two lower doses used. 

In another animal study, researchers gave rats three different dosage amount of cistanche after subjecting them to reproductive injury. They found that the high dose was most effective for improving testosterone and reproductive health, although the moderate dose worked well too.

Cistanche Dosage for Testosterone

Based on the conversion guideline reference mentioned above, an effective human dose of Cistanche for testosterone/fertility would be around 1g to 4g of cistanche powder daily, depending on bodyweight and desired effects.

Importantly, this isn’t definitive yet since there are no human clinical trials completed.


Animal trials indicate that Cistanche may promote testosterone production.

The recommended Cistanche dosage for hormone health is around 1g to 4g per day.

Cistanche Benefits for Inflammation & Aging

There is only one clinical trial relevant to Cistanche’s potential role in inflammation and aging. 

This clinical trial was conducted on adults with mild to moderate patterned hair loss and scalp inflammation. The researchers found that a supplement containing a combination of Cistanche (300mg) and Sea Kelp (Laminaria japonica) (100mg) for 16 weeks led to significant improvements in hair thickness, hair density, as well as marked reductions in scalp dandruff and inflammation.

Cistanche Dosage for Inflammation

Due to the combined use of Cistanche and Sea Kelp, it’s likely that the Cistanche dosage would need to be higher when consumed in isolation. As such, a dose of 400mg or more may benefit inflammation. However, this is tentative as there has only been one related clinical trial.


Cistanche may work to reduce inflammation and symptoms of aging.

The recommended Cistanche dosage for inflammation and aging is around 400mg per day.

the best form of cistanche supplements

What Form of Cistanche is Best?

It is best to choose a Cistanche supplement that is standardized to contain a high concentration of echinacosides (20% to 50% is an ideal range). Also, Cistanche supplements should ideally be concentrated extracts (such as 5:1 or up to 10:1). 

This is best because the echinacosides are the most bioactive components and are thus most likely to provide the most noticeable benefits. When cistanche is concentrated, the dose doesn’t need to be as high to still deliver biological effects. 

For example, if someone wants to take 5g per day of Cistanche, this equates to just 1g daily if using a 5:1 extract. This is just an example, but you can use the general information to pick a supplement that suits your needs. 

Click here to read a guide going over the best Cistanche supplements.


The ideal Cistanche supplement should have a 20% to 50% concentration of echinacosides or an extract concentration of 5:1 to 10:1.

Can I Take Cistanche on an Empty Stomach?

Yes. Most companies recommend taking Cistanche on an empty stomach. However, the bioavailability doesn’t appear to be negatively affected by taking it with food either.

You can learn more about the potential side effects of Cistanche here.

Thus, you can take cistanche with meals if its more convenient.


Although it is recommended to take Cistanche on an empty stomach, this herb can be taken with meals if needed.

When is the Best Time of Day to Take Cistanche?

Cistanche doesn’t have a stimulating effect in most individuals, so it can be taken at any time of the day. It’s best to pick a time you can be consistent with.

We do want to note that for a small percentage of people, Cistanche may increase energy because of its role in ATP production. So if you do notice this, simply take it only in the morning or early afternoon so that you don’t end up awake at night.


Cistanche may be taken at any time during the day. However, this herb may increase some individuals’ energy levels and should be taken in the morning or early afternoon to prevent sleep disturbances.

Cistanche vs. Other Herbs:

Cistanche is often compared with other different types of herbs. Below, we have compiled several articles going over these common comparisons:

Cistanche vs. Ashwagandha: Similarities & Differences Explained

Cistanche vs. Fadogia Agrestis: Similarities & Differences Explained

• Cistanche vs. Shilajit: Similarities & Differences Explained

Cistanche vs. Tongkat Ali: Similarities & Differences Explained


Cistanche has possible benefits for brain function, testosterone, fertility, and inflammation. There are very few completed clinical trials, which makes it hard to find a definitive ideal dosage. 

With that said, there is enough evidence to suggest that taking anywhere from 400mg to 4g per day of Cistanche may have benefits for various conditions, with most individuals finding benefits from a more moderate range of 1 to 4g per day. A concentrated extract standardized to contain a high amount of echincacosides is best. 

Always consult your doctor before taking any supplement. Particularly with this herb since there aren’t many clinical trials.

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About Jack Cincotta, MS

Jack has a Master of Science degree in Psychology and is also an AADP® Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner and AFPA® Certified Holistic Health Coach. His passion is to help people develop optimal levels of health, particularly mental health.