Cistanche is a unique plant variety that has been used in traditional medicine for almost 2000 years. In recent years, it has also become a subject of interest around the world. So without further ado, let’s explore what Cistanche is and what its benefits are!
What Is Cistanche
Cistanche herba is an endangered genus of wild parasitic desert plants that are primarily produced in China but can grow anywhere in dry conditions. Cistanche is often referred to as “the desert ginseng” due to its multiple medicinal benefits.
It is obtained by slicing the stems of the plant before sprouting and is mainly extracted from Cistanche deserticola and Cistanche tubulosa varieties.
The reason it is called ‘parasitic’ is that it connects to another plant to extract water and nutrients from its roots. Besides over-collection, this is also why it is now placed on a list of endangered species.
Due to overharvesting of its host plant saxaul for firewood, Cistanche lacks vital nutrients, water, and chlorophyll to reproduce.
In some regions of China and Japan, it is believed that regular consumption of Cistanche Herba is the key to a long and healthy life. And there might be some scientific basis to back it up.
Here’s the thing, there are several theories that aging is a consequence of unrepaired DNA damage and apoptotic death of vital cells. And research shows that the active component echinacoside, found in Cistanche, can protect cells from DNA damage and neuronal cells from apoptosis.
But let’s not fixate too much on aging and keep in mind what Mark Twain once said: “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
Improves Immunity Function
Our immune system has the most vital role of them all – to protect us from infections, germs, and substances that can harm us. You would never notice it’s there if it didn’t have to do the work. Luckily, many natural components can help us boost immunity’s function, and Cistanche might just be one of them.
Cistanche contains components that are responsible for improving our immune system. Cistanche deserticola extracts were found to show activity against free radicals that damage cells, with the help of its phenylethanoid compounds.
According to recent findings, phenylethanoids are known for their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antivirus, and antibacterial properties, to name a few.
Interesting Fact: Its antioxidant activity has been reported to be 5 times higher than vitamin C.
Helps Treat Diabetes
Diabetes is a widespread disorder that can lead to various complications, such as kidney, nerve and blood vessel damage and increased risk of heart diseases.
However, it can be managed if caught early, and that’s why it’s in our best interest to lead our lives in such a way that could prevent it in the first place.
Many plants, such as Cistanche tubulosa, have been shown to suppress elevated blood sugar levels and improve insulin resistance.
This means that it can be used to treat diabetes and as a preventative measure against hyperglycemia. In other words – high blood sugar levels, which occur due to lack of insulin or the body’s inability to produce enough of it.
Reduces Muscle Fatigue
We’ve all had days when our muscles feel tired and painful after an intense workout. Strenuous activity, aging, and some health conditions are the most common causes of muscle fatigue.
However, muscle fatigue not only brings discomfort but can also decrease the muscles’ ability to perform over time.
Here’s where natural supplements can come to our rescue yet again. Studies claim that Cistanche can help lower muscle damage, improve energy levels, and eliminate lactic acid from muscles, which reduces fatigue. It does so by significantly increasing hemoglobin and glucose contents.
According to the World Health Organization, around 50 million people suffer from dementia, with nearly 10 million new cases each year worldwide.
It is a syndrome that affects thoughts, memory, orientation, learning capacity, and comprehension. It can be overwhelming not only for the people who have it but also for their carers and families, so taking preventative measures can help stave off those struggles in advance.
Acteoside, an active component found in Cistanche, has demonstrated the ability to prevent cell death in the nervous system.
What’s more, modern studies have determined that Cistanche Herba significantly improves learning and memory by inducing the nerve growth factor. This can potentially help treat neurodegenerative disorders, such as dementia.
Cistanche Side Effects
Even though Cistanches Herba has been considered safe for centuries and does not exhibit any toxicity, common side effects can include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid using Cistanche due to a lack of reliable information on its safety.
Thanks to extensive research, so many plant sources have been revealed to have incredible effects on our bodies.
The identified Cistanche benefits are undeniable, and further research can potentially reveal even more uses for our health. So, are you going to try it?
Let us know in the comments, and if you’re looking for another interesting plant, check out our article about guajes and its benefits.