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Cistus (Rock Rose) Oil

Cistus ladaniferus L. (Cistaceae)


Known also by its common name ‘rockrose’, cistus is native to the western Mediterranean, and grows in Spain, Portugal, southern France, Sicily, Greece, Algeria and Morrocco.

A shrub reaching a height of 2.5 metres, it has evergreen leaves that are lanceolate in shape and five-petalled flowers 5-8 cm in diameter, usually with a red to maroon spot at the base, surrounding yellow stamens and pistils. The whole plant is covered with a sticky fragrant exudate.

Well-suited to the Mediterranean climate, it is an highly invasive plant that has taken over large swathes of former farmland and grasslands in the mountainous areas of central Spain.

Cistus is a popular ornamental plant, grown for its resin-scented foliage and conspicuous flowers. Its leaves yield a fragrant oleoresin known as labdanum, which is commonly used in perfumery for its fixative properties.


While labdanum oil is produced through distilling the gum exudate, cistus essential oil is produced through the steam distillation of the leaves and branches. The resulting oil is viscous and orange in colour, with a fresh, sweet-herbaceous, honey-like green aroma.
The essential oil is chemically complex, comprising some 300 individual components, most of them occurring in trace quantities. The composition of the oil is extremely variable, and there are no clearly-defined chemotypes. However, the oil is generally rich in a- and b-pinene.


Cistus essential oil is considered to possess astringent, haemostatic and tissue healing properties.
It is considered especially beneficial for mature skin with numerous fissures and wrinkles, as well as anal fissures, haemorrhoids, bleeding gums, minor wounds and ulcers.
It further attributed with an antiviral action useful in the treatment of acute upper respiratory tract conditions, together with an immuno-regulating influence applicable in cases of rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

Psychologically, cistus essential oil is calming, soothing and anxiolytic.


For mature skin:

In 50 ml of base oil, cream or gel (including 10 ml rosehip seed oil), blend the following essential oils (at a 2% dilution):

  • 6 drops Cistus ladaniferus (cistus)
  • 6 drops Boswellia carterii (frankincense)
  • 6 drops Daucus carota (carrot seed)
  • 6 drops Lavandula angustifolia (true lavender)
  • 6 drops Rosa damascena (rose otto)

For rheumatoid arthritis:

In 50 ml of base oil, cream or gel (including 10 ml hypericum oil), blend the following essential oils (at a 2% dilution):

  • 6 drops Cistus ladaniferus (cistus)
  • 6 drops Chamomilla recutita (German chamomile)
  • 6 drops Cupressus sempervirens (cypress)
  • 6 drops Eucalyptus citriadora (lemon-scented eucalyptus)
  • 6 drops Lavandula latifolia (spike lavender)

For anxiety:

  • 8 drops Cistus ladaniferus (cistus)
  • 8 drops Lavandula angustifolia (true lavender)
  • 8 drops Santalum album (sandalwood)
  • 6 drops Rosa damascena (rose otto)