The Rockrose of Mount Olympus! (Cistus)
An assembly on Mount Olympus
Legend has it that in the Chalkidiki peninsula, the deities gathered for an assembly to discuss which plants will be considered therapeutic. They appointed Cistus (rockrose) the healer of warriors injured in battle. The female deities disapproved of this decision as they were sure that the thin rosy flowers would make for inner and outer beauty. They finally decided that Cistus would be used for both its therapeutical and cosmetics properties. It cannot be argued that herbs were quite popular in ancient times. The Cistus resin (known as ladanum or ladan) was popular in the wider Mediterranean area for its cosmetic use and for enhancing and treating the skin and the hair. It was used to treat the plague at the time as well as other diseases. Greek farmers and monks from Mount Athos were using Cistus tea for its therapeutic properties to treat different health issues.
Cistus leaves have the highest polyphenol content than any other plant in Europe with the amazing property to damage free radicals and also with high antioxidant activity. Cistus was declared European Plant of the Year 1999 in Europe. The plant is found all over the Mediterranean however only the area of northern Crete has the sufficient amount of ladanum to collect it.
Bees also collect ladanum as propolis.
It protects the heart and detoxifies the body
Today the amazing therapeutic properties of Cistus are backed up by science, the plant is also popular beyond Greece. In fact, Cistus tea is three times healthier than green tea. It protects the heart four times better than red wine and it is 20 times more antioxidant than fresh lemon juice.
These were findings from tests by the LEFO foundation in Ahrensburg, Germany. In this study, researchers compared different types of tea, juice and wines as to their ability to damage the so-called free radicals like environmental pollutants and the harmful metabolic wastes.
Popular free radical protectors are Vitamins E and the natural colorant C, beta-carotenes and the herb flavonoids. When the human body lacks these antioxidants, there is ground for toxic substances to be developed. Toxic substances are responsible for premature aging and a number of other illnesses, i.e. they negatively affect the blood vessel walls. In case this happens, the body produces cholesterol to repair the holes - the cholesterol levels are dramatically increased and the blood flow is distorted causing atherosklerosis, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases.
Scientists from the LEFO institute discovered that Cistus contains a highly effective combination of antioxidants: a small-sized glass of concentrated tea has the same effect as a daily Vitamin C dose (ascorbic acid). In Chalkidiki, locals consume Cistus tea throughout the day, that being one reason why there are so many people over 100 years old at this area.
Cistus tea can benefit the body a whole lot more. Professor Claus Peter Siegers from the University of Lübeck proves that Cistus detoxifies the body and discards the toxic heavy metals from cigarette smoke, dental fillings and environmental pollution. In the Sieger study, smokers consumed just 50mg of Cistus tea twice a day. Four weeks later, at the end of the study, cadmium levels in their blood were significantly lower compared to their previous state. Physicians suggest one liter of Cistus tea every day for dental restoration.
More powerful than Vitamins E and C
The fact that Cistus is also beneficial to the immune system was discovered by the lab tests conducted by Dr. Vinzenz Nowak from Bad Iburg, Germany. Just one cup of a tea on a daily basis can significantly boost the immune system. Furthermore, Dr. Frank Petereit from the university of Münster stated in his thesis that Cistus assists in a number of fungal infections such as mycosis, candida albicans. Also, other harmful microorganisms like the bacterium coli and helicobacter, the latter causing gastritis, can be controlled by Cistus. This is very important as in our day and age stress and the increased pressure by environmental pollutants rapidly destabilize the fragile balance in the beneficial gut microbes. Symptoms include slow digestion, fatigue and lack of energy. Cistus tea helps improve these conditions and supports the healthy microbial flora. Petereit also discovered that Cistus relieves different types of inflammation. One liter of tea significantly reduces the relevant symptoms. To treat root-point inflammation, wash your mouth with tea several times a day and then consume two or three cups of Cistus tea.
What's more impressive is that Cistus tea has a powerful antivirus effect on the influenza viruses and avian viruses (H7N7), according to biologists from the "Institut für Molekulare Virologie" (ινστιτούτο μοριακής ιολογίας») in Münster. Professor Stefan Ludwig from the University Hospital Münster points out that the tea does not harm the cells affected by the virus. Contrary to the treatment using antibiotics, the virus does not develop any resistance.
Cistus - Beauty from a natural cosmetic
The scientists went along the deities' wish. The findings: if Cistus tea is applied on the skin twice a day on a daily basis, the skin turns cleaner and healthier. Even problematic acne skin or skin affected by neurodermatitis improves after four weeks.
Studies by the Professor Weiling’s Chemical Laboratory in Altenberge as well as a practical study by Dr. Reiner Wobling in Bad Rothenfelde confirmed this notion. Tests by Professor G. Wiese in Hamm verify that thanks to Cistus skin appearance improved in 61 of 95 patients suffering from neurodermatitis, which was previously treated without success. Contrary to other treatments (drugs, light therapy and acupuncture), 64 percent of the patients improved after being treated for four weeks. The secret to these astonishing effects of Cistus is the significantly high level of vitamin P. It also contains certain tannic acid compounds, the so-called polyphenols. Cistus belongs to the group of plants with the highest level of these active agents. In lower concentrations, they are also found in other healthy foods like onions and red wine. These substances have a stronger antioxidant effect than the well-known vitamins E and C. The “Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung” (“German Association for Nutrition”) emphasises: “Foods rich in polyphenols prevent the cells from unregulated reproduction, stabilise the heart and circulation (red wine effect) and support the biological function of vitamin C.”
Skin Care with Cistus
Face Wash: Use Cistus on itchy skin, irritated skin, neurodermatitis and acne to soothe skin: wash with Cistus tea (10g of tea in 200ml of water, warm for 5 minutes), using a cotton pad twice a day and let it dry. Drink at least one cup of Cistus tea per day, preferably before breakfast. The skin treatment is recommended for about 4 to 6 weeks. Face washes and affected areas with Cistus while consuming Cistus tea daily (one liter for detoxification). It is also recommended to drink 2 liters of bottled water low in minerals.
Poultice: In the folk medicine in Chalkidiki, Cistus is also used as poultice. For bacterial infections, hemorrhoids and allergies, boil Cistus for a few minutes, place in a mixer and turn into paste. Apply it in the affected area and let the skin absorb it for 20 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and apply a Cistus cream.