Ingredient Name: Cistanche, Herba cistanche

Traditional Chinese Name: 肉苁蓉 (ròucōngróng)

What is this?
  • This ingredient is considered as part of the Chinese medicine repertoire (although more specifically, it is the Cistanche deserticola)
  • It is a desert plant (shrub like which grows from 2-6 feet tall) with an usual behavior in that it extracts nutrients and water from plants around it (in order to grow)
  • The plant is harvested in the Spring (before it is able to sprout) by slicing its stem and it is dried and processed for Chinese medicine
  • The plant that produces this ingredient is labeled as “endangered” and harvesting is being monitored
  • Cistanche is actually commonly found in many western sold health supplements (ie: search online and you’ll see bottled, ground or pilled Cistanche for sale)

How do I prepare it?

  • Soak in warm water and rinse before using in soups
  • You can cut it up into small pieces (slices) for soups as well

Where can I buy this?

  • You can purchase this in most wet marts in Hong Kong who sell herbs
  • Chinese medicine shops will definitely have this in various forms a well (such as powdered, whole & dried, sliced, or little pieces)

What is the cost?

  • It will vary depending on size and condition of the Cistanche
  • In general, not overly cheap, but not extremely expensive

Any benefits?

  • It has clinically proven to slow aging, improves the memory, and enhance antibody production within the body
  • Cistanche helps dissipate wind and cold from the body
  • It helps with boosting appetite and the kidneys and large intestines and moistens the body
  • It is also said that this ingredient helps elderly who are always cold
  • Some say that this ingredient is a mild aphrodisiac

Any precautions?

  • Take caution when serving to children (use in moderation as with all Chinese medicine)
  • If you’ve got a naturally warm body, use with caution as sometimes “warm”  ingredients or soups will make you heated
  • Good quality Cistanch is dark, large and slightly moist (see enclosed picture)
  • Be sure to purchase from a reputable source

Additional Information

  • Store in a dry and cool place (up to 6 months)