With a maximum height of 1 meter (3.28 ft), the cistus or cysts are shrubs having leaves of elongated form and giving purple flowers of 5 petals. The name cistus was given to these plants by Joseph Pitton de Tournefort. It is quite close to the forms used in Greek antiquity (in ancient Greek cisthos). Native of the Mediterranean basin, easily found in the Mediterranean scrubland, the Cistus incanus was indeed already employed during Antiquity by the Greeks and the Romans for medicinal and therapeutic purposes.

One found traces of Ciste dating from the 4th century before our era. It was used then mainly as an anti-hemorrhagic, purifying, tonic and to help heal wounds. Cistus incanus was indeed used until the Middle Ages then fell into oblivion for unknown reasons. It was not until the end of the 20th century that the plant regained its popularity in Europe. Today, cistus is mostly known for its effectiveness against colds and flu. In 1999, Cistus incanus was declared "plant of the year" by the scientific institution Herba Historica.


Cistus incanus is a plant present in Spain and on the circumference of the Mediterranean. The lack of water, sunshine and high temperatures are all difficult conditions found in the Mediterranean scrubland and maquis. These elements cause the plants that grow there to have high levels of polyphenols to protect themselves from aggression.

Polyphenols are a family of organic molecules with powerful antioxidant properties. They play an important protective role for plants from aggressions such as ultraviolet rays, fungi, diseases and harmful insects. These polyphenols are not only useful for plants but are also beneficial for our own health. It has indeed been shown that Cistus incanus helps the body to defend itself against attacks caused by pathogens (such as viruses and bacteria). It is not a coincidence that it is now consumed in the form of food supplements around the world.

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