Unusual Essential Oils - Cistus

by Penny Price August 04, 2022 7 min read

Unusual Essential Oils - Cistus

Cistus Essential Oil has been used for centuries thanks to its ability to heal wounds. Nowadays, we use it for its wide-ranging benefits, and it is frequently used in aromatherapy to treat a whole array of conditions for physical and mental health in addition, Cistus Essential Oil is absolutely amazing for the skin.

Cistus Essential Oil can also be very beneficial to prepare your children and grandchildren for returning to school as it is antiseptic, antiviral and anti-inflammatory. This means that using this oil can help protect children from coughs, colds, and viral infections.

If I am honest, the aroma of Cistus Essential Oil is not one of my favourites! It is not as its pseudonym Rock Rose implies – there is not much sweetness, and it is very earthy, spicy and musky. However, once diluted in a carrier oil or lotion, the aroma is beautifully sweet and deep.

About Cistus, The Plant

The Latin name is Cistus ladaniferus, and it comes from the Cistaceae plant family, also known as the Rock Rose family. The family as a whole is comprised of low lying plants that produce beautiful flowers. Cistus is a small sticky shrub up to 3 meters high with lance-shaped leaves which are white and furry on the underside, and fragrant white flowers.

You may also know Cistus Essential Oil as Rock rose oil, Labdanum oil, gum cistus oil, ciste oil, cyste absolute, labdanum gum, or ambreine resin. So many names for the oil from one beautiful little plant! The plant comes from Mediterranean mountainous regions and the middle East, and the oil is mainly produced in Spain. Interestingly, Cistus Essential Oil is also known as Laudanum oil, and all fans of Georgette Heyer novels will know that Laudanum was a common remedy for ‘the vapours’, fainting, weakness of mind or nausea.

The oil is generally steam distilled, although it can also be solvent extracted. When steam distilled, the yield is around 6 to 7 ML of cistus essential oil form each kilo of plant material. The resultant oil is a dark yellow or amber viscous liquid with a warm, sweet, dry-herbaceous musky scent. Cistus Essential Oil, also known as Rock Rose, is a true essential oil distilled directly from the leaves rather than from the crude Labdanum gum. This powerful fixative has a deep, warm, sweet balsamic, almost boozy aroma with leather and musky notes reminiscent of true Labdanum; as with Labdanum, Cistus is also considered a substitute for Ambergris from sperm whales and for true Musk from musk deer.

Cistus Essential Oil Traditional Uses

One of the early aromatic substances of the aromatic world, Cistus Essential Oil has many medical uses and is said to be useful for scrofulous skin conditions, ulcers and tumours, including cancer. Researchers have discovered traces of the Cistus plant in prehistoric caves, and among the Kings of Israel, the Cistus tree was one of the five sacred aromas of holy anointing, being mentioned liberally in the Old Testament.

The medicinal properties of Cistus Essential Oil were first discovered by accident, when thousands of years ago, some shepherds tried to remove the gum of the Cistus plant that would get stuck in the coats of the grazing sheep using leather combs. Later, those 'combs' – more like small rakes, were then scraped of the resin for distillation. One wonders if the 'leather notes' in historical descriptions of the Cistus/Labdanum aroma is a relic of that early practice. However, the most interesting part of this story is that the shepherds noticed that where the gum had touched the cuts on their hands, their wounds healed quicker than normal. I love that story!

Cistus Essential Oil Properties

The properties of Cistus Essential Oil include it being antimicrobial, antiseptic, antitussive, astringent, balsamic, emmenagogue, expectorant, tonic. It is used in aromatherapy to help mature skin, wrinkles, coughs, bronchitis, arhinitis and colds, and is also used as a prophylactic (preventative) for childhood ailments.

Cistus Essential Oil blends well with: Oakmoss Essential Oil, Clary Sage Essential Oil (my favourite), Pine Essential Oil, Juniper Essential Oil and many more, including Lavender, Bergamot, Cypress and Vetivert. Cistus Essential Oil has a very grounding aroma that is calming and sedative.

Using Cistus Essential Oil

Generally non-toxic, non-irritant, non-sensitising, Cistus Essential Oil is safe to use in most situations, but if you are in doubt, do consult a professional therapist or give us a call. Many sources say to avoid using the oil during pregnancy but I have found no reason to do so, the oil is perfectly safe.

Cistus Essential Oil Chemical Constituents

Cistus Essential Oil contains over 170 pinenes, including camphene, sabine, myrcene, Phellandrene, limonene, cymene, cineol, borneol, nerol, geraniol, and fenchone showing a mild yet anti-microbial oil that is a good all-round antiseptic, antiviral and uplifting oil.

Cistus Essential Oil has been used for centuries thanks to its ability to heal wounds. Nowadays, we use it for its wide-ranging benefits, frequently used in aromatherapy to treat a whole array of conditions for the mind, health and even skin.

Cistus Essential Oil for Soothing the Skin

A powerful combination of anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties make Cistus Essential Oil highly soothing for the skin. Whether your complexion is irritated by sunburn, acne or even rosacea, this potent oil sinks deep into the epidermis to calm the affected area. Your skin will be left smoother and more luminous after only a few applications. Use 10 drops in 100ml of Rosehip or Calendula Carrier Oils for the best effect. Blended with Petitgrain Oil and Frankincense Oil, you can enhance the calming effect.

Cistus Essential Oil can help Rejuvenate the Skin

According to experts, Cistus Oil works extremely effectively in reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. The oil’s astringent compounds contract the epidermis to leave skin looking more toned, lifted and youthful. If anti-ageing is your primary concern, also look to Lemon Oil and Clary Sage Oil to help keep your complexion youthful.

Cistus Essential Oil for other Skin Conditions

Do you sometimes deal with patches of eczema, psoriasis or rashes? If so, the Cistus is an oil you need to have nearby. One of the key benefits of Cistus Essential Oil is its ability to directly improve inflammation. It is very anti-inflammatory so any type of swelling, cyst, allergic reaction or breakouts will subside relatively quickly when this oil is added into your skin care regime. You can add 4-5 drops to your bath for an all over treatment that will benefit the whole body, or you can spot treat problem areas that you notice are swelling or becoming red. Add 5 drops of the oil into 50ml carrier oil so you can apply it directly on the skin.

Cistus Essential Oil for Mental Well Being

For centuries, Cistus Essential Oil has been used during meditation, since it evokes feelings of peacefulness and tranquillity. It has long been used to help people through periods of trauma and emotional pain, and the ancient Egyptians used its therapeutic properties in their famous incense Kyphi, which was used to alter the mood and stimulate feelings of euphoria.

If you're having trouble relaxing or are constantly agitated or anxiety ridden because of your lifestyle, you need something that's going to help you decompress and rejuvenate your system while allowing you to unwind. A couple of drops of this oil in a humidifier or a diffuser will help you unwind after a long day of various stressors having your attention, or you can try 4-5 drops in a warm bath.

Cistus Essential Oil for Respiratory Congestion

If you are suffering from colds or bronchitis, this oil can help provide relief. Issues with upper respiratory tract such as asthma, colds, and coughs can be alleviated by using this special and powerful oil. Just a few drops mixed with a few drops of eucalyptus oil can be rubbed on the chest nightly to provide ease in breathing. I suggest using 3 drops of each in a vaporiser. Cistus Essential Oil is also beneficial for allergies such as Hay Fever and Asthma.

Cistus Essential Oil as a Protective Agent

Cistus Essential Oil is wonderful to help keep us healthy and so is perfect to use on children returning to school or nursery. Used in the bath or lotion it is great for helping the entire body to keep healthy. One or two drops on the blazer lapel will also help throughout the day to keep bugs away, and because the aroma is low-key, it is quite subtle and will not draw attention to your child.


Cistus Essential oil is a wonderful oil to help to relaxation, irritated skin, to relieve hay fever and asthma and to help protect you and your family when out and about.


You may like to try some of my recipes as below, and if you do, please do give us feedback on how they worked – we love hearing from you!

Cistus Relaxing Vaporiser Blend

In a 10ml bottle with dropper and cap, blend the following oils:

Cistus Essential Oil 3ml
Lavender Essential Oil 3ml
Bergamot Essential Oil 2ml
Clary Sage Essential Oil 2ml

Use 4-8 drops in a vaporiser, or in the bath, or use 2 drops several times a day in the palms of the hands to inhale deeply so you can relax deep inside.

Cistus Healthy Skin Massage Oil

In a 100ml bottle with cap, blend the following recipe to make a massage oil for the neck and shoulders before bedtime

Sunflower Oil 96ml
Cistus Essential Oil 1.5ml
Lavender High Altitude Essential Oil 1.5ml
Sandalwood Essential Oil 1ml

Apply sparingly over the whole body after a bath or shower and massage until the oiliness has been absorbed.

Cistus Infection Protection Lotion

In a 100ml pump bottle, blend the following recipe

Blending Lotion 90ml
Sunflower Oil 7ml
Cistus Essential Oil 1ml
Eucalyptus Globulus Essential Oil1ml
Geranium Essential Oil 1ml

Mix thoroughly and apply morning and night, or whenever you are going into crowded situations

Cistus Anti-Aging Face Cream

In a 50ml jar with lid, blend the recipe below

Blending Cream Base 47ml
Cistus Essential Oil1ml
Geranium Essential Oil1ml
Palmarosa Essential Oil 1ml

Apply every day to the face and neck.

I hope you have enjoyed this blog. We love to hear from you so do give us feedback on the blog and the recipes, and how they have worked for you or your clients. All the products mentioned are available from www.penny-price.com or you can phone your order through or get advice on 01455 251020. If you are interested in training with us, please call, or email Lizzie on courses@penny-price.com. Thank you for reading! Penny Price X

Penny Price
Penny Price

2 Responses

Gry Fosstvedt
Gry Fosstvedt

August 07, 2022

I love cistus,and find it an extremely useful oil om all levels.
Your article is very interesting ,informative and well written,-like everything you write!🌷

Gry Fosstvedt
Gry Fosstvedt

August 07, 2022

I love cistus,and find it an extremely useful oil om all levels.
Your article is very interesting ,informative and well written,-like everything you write!🌷

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