Ladania (Cistus)


Ladania (Cistus) is a native low, shrub that grows mainly in the dry and rocky parts of the Mediterranean, especially in many parts of Greece, mainly in Crete and Cyprus. The leaves and shoots of the plant, during the summer months, secrete a resinous substance known as aladano or ladano. Ladano should not be confused with labdano, an opiate preparation (90% alcohol and 10% opium) used as a sedative. 

According to modern herbalists, the oil has anti-inflammatory and anti-diarrheal action, it is antispasmodic, expectorant and anti-catarrhal. It has soothing properties and is used for insomnia, diarrhea and toothache.

The amazing history of ladania 

According to mythology, a council was built on Mount Olympus where the gods determined which plants would be healing. The gods decreed that Ladania would heal the warriors wounded in battle. This annoyed the goddesses, because they were sure that the plant with the delicate pink flowers would be more suitable for beauty - inside and out. The result was that Cistus was given both healing and cosmetic properties. 

The first people to collect the cistus resin were the ancient Egyptians. It was used in embalming (in mummies) and burned as incense in temples.

In the Minoan civilization there are indications of its use as a cosmetic and therapeutic, while there are references to Herodotus. Dioskouridis refers to aladano and its astringent, warming, and emollient properties. Ladania is one of the forty ingredients required for the preparation of Agios Myros. The Roman physician Celsus mentions the use of ladania resin as a patch in malignant sarcomas. The ladania resin is used by the Arabs as incense, while the Persian physician Avicenna uses it to soften the stomach and intestines and in the form of an ointment to treat the spleen. In the Middle Ages it cured the plague, while in the Renaissance there were aromas of space with the main ingredient being ladano.

A hardy herb 

Ladania survives better in the Mediterranean climate, thanks in part to the fact that its leaves are capable of seasonal dimorphism. This means that the plant is able to adapt to the changing seasons of the Mediterranean - from very hot summers to cool and humid winters and even frost. When there is less water during the summer, the plant can develop leaves that are five times smaller than it exhibits in winter. These clusters of leaves help the plant stay hydrated even when water is scarce.

Therapeutic properties

Cistus has the highest polyphenol content of any plant in Europe, with an amazing ability to destroy free radicals as well as high antioxidant activity. The stem and leaves contain a balsamic resin fragrance, the oil. The resin of the cistus contains organic compounds called lithic diterpenes, which according to studies have antimicrobial and cytostatic activity (ie they prevent cell proliferation and ultimately prevent the formation of tumors). 

Ladania tea is three times healthier than green tea. It protects the heart 4 times more than red wine and is an antioxidant 20 times stronger than fresh lemon juice. Detoxifies heavy toxic metals from cigarette smoke, dental fillings and environmental contamination. 
It strengthens the immune system, helps fungal infections such as candida and other forms, coliforms, and H. pylori, and improves the delicate balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut. For gum problems we gargle and drink 2-3 cups a day. It is effective against influenza viruses such as birds. It relieves stomach, intestinal problems and acts against obesity. It is soothing, astringent, antispasmodic, anti-insomnia, reduces the symptoms of bronchitis, and is analgesic. It is good to use prophylactically to prevent colds and other diseases.

Pour 1 tablespoon of oil in a cup of boiling water and leave it covered for 15 minutes. Strain and drink one cup in the morning and one in the evening. 

Ladania harvest 

The unique way in which the ancient Greeks collected the resin secreted by the shoots and leaves of the plant is particularly interesting. When goats or sheep grazed near cistus populations, the plant resin was attached to their wool, which they carefully peeled off and boiled with water. So when the water boiled the pure resin rose to its surface and they could collect it. This whole process is due to the ancient Greeks who wanted to collect the precious and rare labdanum - it is not difficult to understand how valuable it was, with such an intensive collection process!

In modern times, labdanum collection techniques have evolved to make the process easier, but they are not far removed from the ways used in antiquity. In our time, labdanum is collected for commercial purposes only in Crete and specifically in the village of Sises in the prefecture of Rethymnon. There the locals collect the labdanum using a wooden construction, the workshop, which has plastic straps tied on it. With the workshop, the ladania plants are beaten and the resin (labdanum) that is secreted adheres to the straps. Then the straps are left in the sun to soften the black labdanum paste and with the help of another tool called a scraper, they collect it.