4 Benefits of Cistus Incanus: Dosage & Safety

Cistus incanus is a medicinal herb that has been used in traditional European medicine for thousands of years. In this article, we will look at many health benefits of Cistus …

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Medical Review by: Daniel Powers, MS
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Cistus incanus is a medicinal herb that has been used in traditional European medicine for thousands of years.

In this article, we will look at many health benefits of Cistus incanus, its history, and safety.

health benefits of cistus incanus

What is Cistus incanus?

Cistus is a perennial, medicinal flowering plant native to the Mediterranean areas.

Cistus incanus is the Latin name of this medicinal herb. It’s also known as Cistus creticus

Its common names include rock rose, hoary rock rose, pink rock rose, and hairy rock rose.

The major bioactive constituents in Cistus incanus include:

  • Catechins
  • Gallic acid
  • Polyphenols; Flavonoids, Rutin, Quercetin
  • Kaempferol
  • Myricetin
  • Flavonoid aglycones
  • Glycosides
  • Proanthocyanidins
  • Diterpenoids

Cistus incanus is commonly known and used for its anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, as well as for treating Lyme disease.

Health Benefits of Cistus incanus:

Below are the top research-backed health benefits of Cistus incanus.

cistus incanus health benefits

1. May Treat Lyme Disease

Cistus is one of the many herbs used to help treat Lyme disease. 

Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States. Borrelia burgdorfer is a bacteria transmitted by ticks that cause this disease.

A lab-based study evaluated several botanicals, including Cistus, Uncaria tomentosa (Cat’s claw), Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed), Artemisia annua (Sweet wormwood), Cryptolepis sanguinolenta, Juglans nigra (Black walnut), and Scutellaria baicalensis (Chinese skullcap) on their effectiveness against Borrelia burgdorferi. It was shown that these herbs have a strong ability to halt the growth of Lyme disease.

Lyme disease expert and author Stephen Buhner states that Cistus can be used in treating Lyme disease as it is highly antimicrobial.

Summary:

Lab-based research and Lyme experts indicate that Cistus incanus may work as an natural herbal remedy for Lyme disease. Additional clinical research is needed to verify these findings.

2. Potential Anti-Viral Properties

Cistus may have strong anti-viral properties.

The most common diseases are upper respiratory tract infections, with viruses being the most prominent pathogen involved.

A clinical study looked at the impact of Cistus extract on 160 patients with upper respiratory tract infections. Positive results were seen, revealing that Cistus has strong anti-viral properties. Patients’ symptoms significantly decreased and the lab levels of the inflammatory marker, CRP, significantly decreased.

A study of 300 patients looked at the impact of Cistus compared to green tea. Both herbs were effective in treating the infections; however, Cistus was shown to be more effective in reducing infection duration and symptoms. This may be due to the plant’s high content of polyphenols and its strong anti-inflammatory and anti-viral activities.

A lab-based study found that Cistus incanus extract has potent anti-viral effects against:

  • HIV
  • Marburg virus
  • Ebola virus
  • Influenza A virus

Results showed that the herb prevents the virus from interacting with the host cells, therefore, blocking the virus from entering the healthy cells.

Summary:

Clinical studies have found that Cistus may possess anti-viral effects, however, additional human research is needed for further confirmation.

3. Potential Anti-Bacterial Properties

Cistus may also be an effective herb for fighting bacterial pathogens.

A lab-based study showed that drinking Cistus tea could have anti-bacterial effects against Streptococcus mutans, a bacterium known to cause tooth decay.

A chemical analysis was performed on Cistus creticus’ resin compound, labdanum. It showed that labdanum has anti-microbial activity against the bacteria:

  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis
  • Staphylococcus hominis

Diterpenoids are a chemical compound found in Cistus. A lab-based study tested the plant’s diterpenoids for their anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. These diterpenoids showed to be active against the pathogens:

  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Staphylococcus epidmidis
  • Pseudomonas aeurginosae
  • Enterobacter cloacae
  • Escherichia coli
  • Klebsiella pneumonia
  • Torulopsis glabrata
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • Candida albicans

Summary:

Lab-based research has shown that Cistus works to inhibit bacteria and various other pathogens.

4. May Support Heart Health

Cistus tea has been shown to support heart health.

Elevated and uncontrolled lipid levels (i.e. cholesterol) and oxidative stress are associated with various chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and atherosclerosis.

A clinical study of 24 healthy participants analyzed the effects of Cistus incanus tea on oxidative stress markers and lipid profile. Participants consumed an infusion of the plant three times per day, and a blood analysis was performed three times throughout the treatment – a baseline, at 6 weeks, and at 12 weeks.

Findings showed increased levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, decreased levels of triglycerides, and decreased oxidative stress. Researchers believe these results are due to the plant’s high polyphenol content, which has antioxidant and heart protective properties.

Summary:

Human research has found that Cistus may promote cardiovascular health by normalizing lipid levels. Additional clinical research is needed to verify these findings.
4 benefits of taking cistus incanus

Cistus incanus Safety:

Since 2010, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has recommended Cistus tea as a natural source of antioxidants and for immunity support.

There is insufficient information on the safety of Cistus incanus. However, there are no known adverse reactions or herb-drug interactions.

There is no information regarding the use or safety of Cistus incanus during pregnancy or lactation.

Dosing:

Infusion (Tea): Portion of 2g of dried herb per day. Re-infused three times per day in 8 oz. of boiling water for 3 minutes.

Extract: CYSTUS052 (about 220 mg of polyphenols) – Six tablets two times per day.

Sustainability:

Cistus incanus is not on the United Plant Saver’s “species-at-risk” list of plants that are sensitive to the impact of human activities.

Naming & Taxonomy:

The plant’s scientific name is Cistus incanus. It belongs to the Cistaceae (rockrose) family of plants.

Cistus is a shrubby plant with pink flowers and has leaves that secrete a resin called labdanum.

The taxonomy of Cistus species may be difficult to learn about because plants in this genus (Cistus) tend to cross between species and form hybrids. For example, Cistus incanus is a hybrid of Cistus albidus and Cistus crispus – and Cistus creticus is a subtype of Cistus incanus.

Some other species of Cistus include:

  • Cistus albidus
  • Cistus crispus
  • Cistus parviflorus
  • Cistus monspeliensis
  • Cistus populifolius
  • Cistus salviifolius
  • Cistus ladanifer
  • Cistus laurifolius
  • Cistus clusii

History & Traditional Use:

In folk medicine, Cistus tea was used to treat diarrhea, fever, and skin disorders. It was also used for its antioxidant and antispasmodic properties, wound healing, and ulcers, and as a vasodilator.

In Morocco, Cistus creticus has been used for the treatment of diabetes. 

Conclusion:

Although there is limited human clinical research on Cistus, it has been traditionally used for thousands of years.

As always, make sure to consult with your physician before adding a new herbal supplement to your regimen, especially if you are taking any medication.

Bernacka, K., Bednarska, K., Starzec, A., Mazurek, S., & Fecka, I. (2022). Antioxidant and antiglycation effects of Cistus × incanus water infusion, its phenolic components, and respective metabolites. Molecules, 27(8), 2432. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9032239/

Dimcheva, V. & Karsheva, M. (2018). Cistus incanus from strandja mountain as a source of bioactive antioxidants. Plants (Basel, Switzerland), 7(1), 8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5874597/

Kuchta, A., Konopacka, A., Waleron, K., Viapiana, A., Wesołowski, M., Dąbkowski, K., Ćwiklińska, A., Mickiewicz, A., Śledzińska, A., Wieczorek, E., Gliwińska, A., Kortas-Stempak, B., & Jankowski, M. (2021). The effect of Cistus incanus herbal tea supplementation on oxidative stress markers and lipid profile in healthy adults. Cardiology Journal, 28(4), 534–542. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8277009/

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About Tara Bassi, MS, CNS, LDN

Tara is a Licensed Nutritionist and Clinical Herbalist, specializing in women’s health. She has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Nutrition and Herbal Medicine from Maryland University of Integrative Health and is a Board Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS®).