Updated: Feb 24
Cistus is a genus of beautiful flowering plants that are native to the Mediterranean regions of Southern Europe and North Africa. Commonly referred to as Rockroses, flowers in the Cistus genus bloom in lovely colors ranging from pure white to bright pink. Just looking at one of these plants, one would not suspect that it possesses very powerful medicinal properties. In traditional herbal medicine, the leaves of Cistus have been used in the treatment of skin and inflammatory diseases (Hudson, 2009). Recent scientific research has confirmed the validity of this traditional herbal knowledge through studies that have demonstrated that Cistus leaf extractives have powerful antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral, and biofilm-breaking qualities (Rebensburg et al, 2015). The many benefits of Cistus have made it a staple in my own treatment protocol for Lyme disease and Lyme co-infections. Read on to find out why I am such a huge fan of this beautiful little plant!
Antibacterial and Antifungal Benefits of Cistus Plants in the Cistus genus exert a number of powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties against pathogens that can cause serious human health problems. Cistus incanus (one particular species of Cistus) has demonstrated antibacterial effects against Streptococcus mucans, a gram-positive bacterium found in the mouth that can contribute to tooth decay (Wittpahl, 2015). Cistus villosus and Cistus monspeliensis, two species native to Morocco, have been shown to be antibacterial against Staphylococcus aureus, which is the bacterium responsible for causing Staph infections. Antibiotic-resistant Staph infections are on the rise, so natural antibacterial substances that can address this type of infection are highly valuable!
Antiviral Qualities of Cistus Incanus Cistus also has strong antiviral properties. It prevents viral infection by targeting viral envelope proteins. Viral envelope proteins are proteins embedded in the capsule of a virus, which is the shell-like layer that encapsulates the viral DNA or RNA. The viral DNA and RNA are the genetic material that a virus uses to replicate once it is in a host cell. Viral envelope proteins are what enable viruses to attach to and enter host cells, and then proceed to replicate their DNA and RNA. Viruses cannot reproduce independently; they must have access to a host cell in order to reproduce and create more viruses (Lodish, 2000). When a virus gains access to a host cell and begins to replicate, this interferes with normal host cell processes; this is in part what leads to the symptoms of viral illnesses. The tactics of viruses are quite sneaky, but the good news is that Cistus incanus has been found to inhibit the action of viral envelope proteins in a number of different types of viruses, preventing this entire process from occurring.
Biofilm-Breaking Qualities of Cistus Cistus is an all-star at breaking down biofilm, especially in the mouth. Biofilm, a slimy layer of bacteria that can form on bodily surfaces, maybe a major contributor to the development and persistence of chronic disease because it allows bacteria to evade antibiotics. Cistus is a powerful biofilm-breaker that can help destroy biofilm and restore a healthy microbial balance in the human body. Drinking cistus tea, or even swishing with it as a mouth rinse, has been shown to decrease adherence of pathogenic bacteria in the mouth, ultimately breaking down biofilm (Karygianni, 2015). After I was diagnosed with a dental infection, I was instructed by my doctor to swish my mouth with Cistus tea, and then drink one cup of the tea every day. I noticed immediately that the swishing with Cistus reduced inflammation in my face, due to the infection. It was quite incredible to see. I can attest to the effectiveness of this herb for dental problems.