Benefits of Cistanche

Cistanche Supplement: Benefits, Side Effects & Risks

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Last modified on January 11th, 2023

Cistanches herba, also known as a cistanche supplement, is increasingly popular. The supplement is also known as Rou Cong Rong and desert ginseng. It’s used for neuroprotection, immunomodulatory benefits, anti-inflammatory benefits, and more.

Cistanches herba is traditionally found in North Africa, Asian and Arabic cultures.

The primary compound found in the plant that is believed to have medicinal properties is called phenylethanoid glycosides. In recent years, there have been a lot of studies and research looking into the effects of the bioactive compounds in cistanches herba, which is why people are increasingly turning to cistanche supplements.

Our top picks for the best cistanche supplements include:

What is a Cistanche Supplement?

Cistanches herba comes from the dried stem of a Cistanches species plant.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM, cistanche is believed to benefit the body in many different ways, including helping with impotence, female infertility, and chronic renal disease.

In modern research, the cistanche benefits supplement are linked to testosterone production and sexual wellness, healthy aging, immune system support, and improvements in brain function.

This traditional herb has been used as an adaptogen. Adaptogens are herbal remedies that help the body better and more effectively deal with external stressors, including physical and emotional stress, toxins, and harmful bacteria and viruses.

What Are the Benefits of Cistanche Supplement?

Some of the potential cistanche benefits include:

Brain Function Improvements

Research shows that cistanche has the potential to improve memory retention and overall brain function.

There are three particular parts of your memory it may help with. The first is the ability to learn, especially in relation to long-term memory storage. The second is the ability to remember knowledge and facts, and the third is to recall the information stored in your long-term memory.

We talk a bit more about cistanche and concentration, focus and memory below.

Immune Health

Cistanche contains a phytochemical called echinacoside, which is found in echinacea, thus the potential for this herbal supplement to help improve the immune system.

In a test-tube study, a cistanche extract improved the production of antibodies in the human lymph node lymphocytes. Antibodies are part of your immune system that fight off pathogens.

In an animal study, consuming cistanche daily improved natural killer cells and T cells in the blood and spleen and decreased pro-inflammatory cells.

Supports Healthy Aging

Research shows that using a cistanche supplement may help stimulate the production of human growth hormone (HGH). According to this current research, this might be because cistanche phytochemicals may be able to activate ghrelin receptors.

HGH declines over time as people age, and stimulating its production can help slow aging through the regeneration of cells.

Ghrelin is the hunger receptor, telling the body when to eat. Components of cistanche, including echinacoside and acetonide, bind to ghrelin receptors, and when ghrelin is activated, it increases the secretion of growth hormones.

If you’re worried that the activation of ghrelin could make you hungry, cistanche supplements may have an apoptogenic effect on these receptors and appetite, meaning they can balance out your appetite and hunger levels.


Testosterone biosynthesis occurs in Leydig cells. Cholesterol is moved into the inner membrane of your mitochondria by a transporter called StAR to create testosterone.

Once there, the cholesterol is converted to pregnenolone, and from there, the pregnenolone can either get oxidized, where it is then ultimately converted into testosterone.

The other option is that the pregnenolone is converted to different steroids.

Cistanche can upregulate the enzymes and transporters in these processes, so it can have a beneficial impact on almost all the stages of the biosynthesis of testosterone.

Cistanche can also increase luteinizing hormone or LH levels. That’s also important for the synthesis of testosterone.

Stacking cistanche with Tongkat Ali can lead to even more testosterone synthesis for people most interested in increasing testosterone.


Cistanche seems to regulate certain levels of gut bacteria, thus its ability to influence your mood positively.

Most of the neurotransmitters in our brains come from our gut and diet. For example, most of the serotonin in our brains comes from L-tryptophan, and L-tryptophan is converted to 5-HTP, then 5-HTP converts to serotonin. Most of this process happens in gut cells, and the good bacteria in our gut help promote the biosynthesis of serotonin.

Cistanche affects gut bacteria, which is why it’s an excellent supplement to improve your mood.

Testosterone and growth hormone levels are also associated with mood regulation.

Focus and Concentration

Cistanche has positive effects on focus, concentration, and memory, likely because of the same reasons it’s good for your mood. Taking a cistanche supplement can help create more neurotransmitters and boost neural communication and nervous system health.

Research shows that consistent use of cistanche allows people to recall more information and do so faster than control groups.

Safety and Side Effects of Cistanche

Cistanche herba has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years, and it’s considered safe.

Recent research has shown that cistanches herba extracts don’t appear to have any apparent toxicity, but you should speak to your doctor before trying a new supplement.

You should also carefully follow the dosage instructions of any product you use. Using a dose that’s too high could lead to mild side effects like dizziness, nausea and vomiting, and abdominal pain.

How to Take a Cistanche Supplement

How you take a cistanche supplement will depend on the product you’re using.

If you’re using capsules, follow the instructions. It’s not known to have a direct stimulating effect, so you can take it any time throughout the day. Some people might find it a bit stimulating because it promotes cellular energy through ATP production, and if you experience mild stimulation, take it in the morning.

For other users, it helps improve their sleep quality if taken to bed. It may take some time to find what works for you.

If you buy a powder version of the supplement, you can mix it with hot water and drink it like tea.

As far as how long it takes to work and show the benefits of Cistanche, this is also different for every person. Some people feel the results within a week, but for others, it may take up to six weeks to notice the Cistanche benefits.

Where to Buy a Cistanche Supplement

Above, we linked to three of our picks for the best cistanche supplement. We compare these below:


What We Like



Try It

Nootropics Depot Cistanche Tubulosa

The Nootropics Depot brand always has excellent quality products. 

200 mg capsules

$34.19 ($0.57 per capsule)

Life Extension 

Standardized extract for maxmium potency

210 mg capsules

$15.00 ($0.50 per capsule)

Dimmark Rou Cong Rong 

Powder gives you versatility in how you use it including in teas and smoothies

Powder extract

$22.46 ($5.62 per ounce)

Final Thoughts

Cistanche supplements are becoming increasingly popular in the mainstream, while they’ve been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. The potential benefits of these supplements include increased HGH levels and testosterone production, better mood, healthier aging, and improvements in memory and concentration.

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