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Last Updated June 29th 2020, 9:50:59 pm

Cistanche is a parasitic desert plant found throughout the world. They take over the roots of other plants to get their water and nutrients.


The active ingredients are phenylethanoids, monoterpenes and polysaccharides.[1]

Healing Properties


Cistanche deserticola has been found to exert protection against aging and age-related diseases.[2]

Immune Function

  • Enhances Antibody Production [1:1]
    • Cistanche salsa: extracts enhance antibody production in isolated human lymph node lymphocytes in vitro (Cistanche salsa is a specific variety of the Cistanche family of plants.)


  • Phenylethanoids from Cistanche salsa have been shown to have neuroprotective activity in human cell.[1:2]


activity of phenylethanoid-rich extract from Cistanche deserticola.[3]


Inhibits the sensation of pain.

Cistanche salsa & Cistanche deserticola have shown analgesic and Antiinflammatory properties.[4][5]

Disease / Symptom Treatment

Alzheimer’s Disease

Echinacoside (ECH), a phenylethanoid glycoside isolated from Cistanche deserticola may have a potency to prevent Alzheimer’s disease progression.[2:1]

Kidney Deficiency


A depletion of qi “vital energy” and reduction of functioning in the wuzang “five internal organs” (heart, liver, spleen, lungs, kidneys).

  • Cistanche deserticola: this particular variety of Cistanche, commonly known as desert-broomrape, has been used for the treatment of neurasthenia.

  1. Title: Cistanche salsa Extract Enhanced Antibody Production in Human Lymph Node Lymphocytes
    Author(s): Shinjiro Maruyama, Shuichi Hashizume, Touji Tanji ,Koji Yamada and Hirofumi Tachibana
    Institution(s): Laboratory of Food Chemistry, Department of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Faculty of Agriculture, Kyushu University, 6-10-1 Hakozaki, Higashi-ku, Fukuoka 812-8581, Japan, Research Institute, Morinaga & Co., Ltd., 2-1-1 Shimosueyoshi Tsurumi-ku, Yokohama 230-8504, Japan, Karutan Co., 1-8-3 Ootemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-0004, Japan
    Publication: Pharmacologyonline
    Date: 2008
    Abstract: Cistanche salsa (C.A. Meyer) G. Beck, Orobanchaceae is a parasitic plant that is used as an oriental medicinal tonic in Japan. In this study, we show that the extract prepared from C. salsa enhanced antibody production in human lymph node lymphocytes (LNL). The production of IgM and IgG was shown to be enhanced 5-fold. The extract also induced interleukin-6 receptor (IL-6R) expression on surface immunoglobulin positive B cells in LNL. These results raise a possibility that the antibody production enhanced by the C. salsa extract may be related to the involvement of IL-6R expression in B cell activation.
    Citations: ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎

  2. Title: Echinacoside, a phenylethanoid glycoside from Cistanche deserticola, extends lifespan of Caenorhabditis elegans and protects from Aβ-induced toxicity
    Author(s): Wei Chen, Hong-Ru Lin, Cong-Min Wei, Xiao-Hua Luo, Meng-Lu Sun, Zhen-Zhou Yang, Xin-Yan Chen, and Hong-Bing Wang
    Institution(s): Research Center for Translational Medicine, Shanghai East Hospital, School of Life Sciences and Technology, Tongji University Shanghai China
    Publication: Biogerontology
    Date: 28 November 2017
    Abstract: Cistanche deserticola has been found to exert protection against aging and age-related diseases, but mechanisms underlying its longevity effects remain largely unclear. Here, the multicellular model organism Caenorhabditis elegans was employed to identify lifespan extending and protective effects against β-amyloid (Aβ) induced toxicity by echinacoside (ECH), a phenylethanoid glycoside isolated from C. deserticola. Our results showed that ECH extends the mean lifespan of worms and increases their survival under oxidative stress. Levels of intracellular reactive oxygen species and fat accumulation were also significantly suppressed by ECH. Moreover, ECH-mediated lifespan extension was found to be dependent on mev-1, eat-2, daf-2, and daf-16, but not sir-2.1 or hsf-1 genes. Furthermore, ECH triggered DAF-16 nuclear localization and upregulated two of its downstream targets, sod-3 and hsp-16.2. In addition, ECH significantly improved the survival of CL4176 worms in response to proteotoxic stress induced by Aβ protein aggregation. Collectively, these findings suggested that reactive oxygen species scavenging, dietary restriction, and insulin/insulin-like growth factor signaling pathways could be partly involved in ECH-mediated lifespan extension. Thus, ECH may target multiple longevity mechanisms to extend lifespan and have a potency to prevent Alzheimer’s disease progression.
    Citations: ↩︎ ↩︎

  3. Title: Antifatigue activity of phenylethanoid‐rich extract from Cistanche deserticola
    Author(s): Run‐Lan Cai, Mei‐Hua Yang, Yue Shi, Jun Chen, Yong‐Chao Li, and Yun Qi
    Institution(s): Research Center for Pharmacology and Toxicology, Institute of Medicinal Plant Development, Chinese Academy of Medical Science and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing 100193, P.R. China,
    Publication: Phytotherapy Research
    Date: 16 July 2009
    Abstract: A phenylethanoid‐rich extract (ECD) of Cistanche deserticola Y.C. Ma, a holoparasitic plant and a valuable traditional Chinese medicine, was evaluated for antifatigue activity in ICR mice. ECD (0.25, 0.50, 1.00 g/kg) was administered orally to mice for 3 weeks. The swimming time to exhaustion was longer in the treatment groups (0.50, 1.00 g/kg) than in the control group (p < 0.01). The serum creatine kinase, lactate dehydrogenase and lactic acid levels were decreased significantly in the treatment groups compared with the control group, while the contents of hemoglobin and glucose were increased significantly. In conclusion, ECD appeared to enhance the swimming capacity of mice by decreasing muscle damage, delaying the accumulation of lactic acid and by improving the energy storage. These results provide scientific evidence for the traditional Chinese medical practice of C. deserticola.
    Citations: ↩︎

  4. Title: Antinociceptive activity of Cistanche salsa stolons, growing in the Republic of Kazakhstan
    Author(s): Elmira B. Kartbaeva, Graciela R. Donald, Zuriyadda B. Sakipova, Liliya N. Ibragimova, Elmira N. Bekbolatova, Inna I. Ternynko, Patricia D. Fernandes, and Fabio Boylan
    Institution(s): Asfendiyarov Kazakh National Medical University, Almaty, Kazakhstan, Laboratório de Farmacologia da Dor e da Inflamação, Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil, The Chair of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Pharmacognosy, Lugansk State Medical University, Rubezhnoe, Stoiteley, Ukraine, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
    Publication: Revista Brasileira de Farmacognosia
    Date: 17 May 2017
    Abstract: Herba Cistanche (Cistanche species) in Traditional Chinese Medicine is used for the treatment of several diseases and symptoms, to include pain. The objective of this study was to evaluate the antinociceptive effect of the hydroethanol extract of Cistanche salsa (C.A.Mey.) Beck, Orobanchaceae, stolons in animal models of pain. Chemical composition of Herba Cistanche was analyzed by HPLC-UV. Mice Swiss Webster (25–30 g, n = 6) were orally pre-treated with Herba Cistanche (10, 30 or 100 mg/kg) and evaluated in the formalin test and in the capsaicin- or glutamate-induced licking response. Kazakh Herba Cistanche is composed mainly by phenylpropanoid glycosides, from which echinacoside, acteoside and tubuloside B are the main constituents. When Herba Cistanche was administered to mice it had an effect in both phases of the formalin test (77% activity at 30 mg/kg for phase 1 and 62% activity at 100 mg/kg for phase 2) suggesting analgesic and Antiinflammatory properties. Kazakh Herba Cistanche was able to reduce the animals licking time after injection of glutamate (81% reduction at 30 mg/kg) and capsaicin (81% reduction at 100 mg/kg). We conclude that phenolics present in the hydroethanol extract of C. salsa could be responsible for its pharmacological profile. In order to source a good quality raw material for Traditional Chinese Medicine we recommended this Kazakh species to be standardized using echinacoside and acteoside as markers.
    Citations: ↩︎

  5. Title: Anti-nociceptive and Antiinflammatory activity caused by Cistanche deserticola in rodents
    Author(s): Li-Wei Lin, Ming-Tsuen Hsieh, Fan-Hsiu Tsai, Wen-Hsin Wang, and Chi-Rei Wu
    Institution(s): Institute of Chinese Pharmaceutical Sciences, China Medical College, 91 Hsieh Shih Road, Taichung, Taiwan, ROC
    Publication: Journal of Ethnopharmacology
    Date: 2002
    Abstract: In the present study, the rhizomes of Cistanche deserticola (Orobanchaceae, abbreviated as CD) were extracted with 50% ethanol and isolated orderly by ethyl acetate, n-butanol and water. The analgesic and Antiinflammatory effects of CD extract and three layers were evaluated in several animal models. CD extracts effectively inhibited writhing response induced by 1% acetic acid and biphasic licking responses caused by 1% formalin, and also reduced the edema induced by 1% carrageenan but not zymosan. Furthermore, the butanolic and aqueous layers of CD extract not only reduced the pain induced by acetic acid and formalin, but also decreased the edema that induced by carrageenan. Effects of the butanolic layer of CD extract are better than that of the aqueous layer. In addition, the effect of the butanolic layer of CD extract was not abolished by naloxone. These results revealed that CD has analgesic and Antiinflammatory effects, and the butanolic and aqueous layers are mainly active constituents. Furthermore, the analgesic and Antiinflammatory effects of the butanolic layer of CD extract were not related to opioid receptors and immune system.
    Citations: ↩︎