Our cistus herbs are made of leafs of the Cistus Ladanifer plant, which are hand harvested, dried, cut and filtered. In some countries the eastern cousin of Ladanifer – namely Cistus Incanus – is already well-known and used as an herbal tea. We are slowly re-discovering the potential of our own Cistus, which seems very promising indeed.A survey conducted in the southwestern region of the Algarve in 2006, gathered extensive information on the traditional use of native plants for medicinal uses. Cistus Ladanifer – or rockrose – has been historically used for a number of applications, either in the form of tea, poultice, inhaled or ingested.
(1) There are plenty of studies on the very interesting properties of Cistus Ladanifer products, such as the essential oil for example, but the scientific data on Cistus Herbs is quite rare. However, there is a study published in the Phytochemical Analysis Journal which compared aqueous (water based) extracts of several cistus species, amongst which was also a sample of Cistus Ladanifer. One of the parameters under study where Ellagitannins. Quoting the authors:
“Ellagitannins are the largest group of tannins and possess antioxidant, antitumor, antiatherosclerotic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-hepatotoxic and antiviral activities”.
(2) Regarding the results of the analysis that were made, Cistus Populifolius, for example, has a concentration of 7.86 mg/mL; Cistus Ladanifer scores very high, with 15.12 mg of Ellagitannins per mL . Curiously, Cistus Incanus scored 0 mg/mL.
We ourselves carried out comparisons between a sample of our Ladanifer herbs with a sample of Incanus herbs for 4 different polyphenol parameters, namely gallic acid equivalent, tannic acid equivalent, catechine equivalent and epicatechine equivalent. This test of the Cistus Ladanifer and Cistus Incanus samples was carried out by an independent food labratory in Italy using the method of spectrophotometry. The results for the four polyphenol parameters are almost identical in both Ladanifer and Incanus. The results for Cistus Ladanifer herbs were:
Polyphenols calculated as gallic acid equivalent: 10.5 g/100 g
Polyphenols calculated as tannic acid equivalent: 11.3 g/100 g
Polyphenols calculated as catechine equivalent: 8.2 g/100 g
Polyphenols calculated as epicatechine equivalent: 6.3 g/100 g
The reason why we wanted to know more about the polyphenol content of Cistus Ladanifer has to do with the fact that polyphenols are very interesting and have been in the focus of many studies regarding health benefits. These polyphenols – or phenolic compounds -have been studied for almost two decades due to their interesting properties:
“Phenolic compounds in foods have attracted great interest since the 1990s due to growing evidence of their beneficial effect on human health. The interest was stimulated mainly by epidemiological studies indicating an inverse association between the intake of foods rich in these compounds and the incidence of diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, and cancer.”
(3) Polyphenols are defined as a “structural class of mainly natural, but also synthetic or semisynthetic, organic chemicals characterized by the presence of large multiples of phenol structural units. (…)Examples include tannic acid and ellagitannin.”
(4) Tannins, for example, are a subset of the polyphenols . “The astringency from the tannins is what causes the dry and puckery feeling in the mouth following the consumption of unripened fruit or red wine or tea.”
(5) “Plants produce ellagic acid from hydrolysis of tannins such as ellagitannin.”
(6) And ellagic acid, has proven antiproliferative and antioxidant properties. “As with other polyphenol antioxidants, ellagic acid has a chemoprotective effect in cellular models by reducing oxidative stress.”
(7) Cistus herbs are thus another product of the Cistus Ladanifer plant which seems very promising. We will continue investigating the potential of Cistus herbs and share the findings with you.
(1) “Recolha dos ‘saber-fazer’ tradicionais das plantas aromáticas e medicinais – Concelhos de Aljezur, Lagos e Vila do Bispo”; Associação de produtores florestais do sudoeste algarvio; Bordeira, (2006)
(2) “A Systematic Study of the Polyphenolic Composition of Aqueous Extracts Deriving from Several Cistus Genus Species:Evolutionary Relationship” Barrajón-Catalán, Fernández-Arroyo,and others. (2010)
(3) “Bioavailability of the Polyphenols: Status and Controversies”; Massimo D’Archivio and others. (2010)
(4) (5) Wikipedia
(6) “Plant Secondary Metabolism”; David S. Seigler (1998)