Home / Chinese Herb / CISTANCHE [肉苁蓉, ROU CONG RONG]


Name : Cistancherou cong rong-500x500_opt

Chinese Name : 肉苁蓉

Latin Name : Heba Cistanches


This herb consists of the pulpy stem, along with the scales, of Cistanche deserticola Y.C.Ma. of the family Orobanchaceae. It grows mainly in the Gansu, Inner Mongolia, Qinghai, and Xinjiang provinces of China. Collected in spring, it is dried in the sun and sliced for use unprocessed.

The herb was traditionally used as a tonic to treat all wasting diseases, an aphrodisiac for men, and to cure impotence, spermatorrhea, menstrual difficulties, gonorrhea, and problems related to the genital organs of women. Today, it is used to reinforced the vital functions of the kidneys, as a mild laxative for chronic constipation in the elderly, and to treat impotence. Cistanche is a good antiaging medicinal herb.

Use of Cistanche in TCM

Sweet and salty in taste, warm, and nontoxic, it acts on the kidney and large intestine meridians.

Effects, Medicinal Uses , and Combinations

  1. Stimulates the kidney yang:
  • For impotence, cistanche is mixed with processed rehmannia root, cuscuta seed (tu si zi), and schisandra fruit.
  • For pain in the loins and knees, as well as for lassitude of the muscles, cistanche is used with morinda root and eucommia bark.
  • To treat female infertility and strengthen the vital essence, cistanche is also combined with other tonic medicinal herbs, such as antler glue, Chinese anglica, and white peony.
  1. Moistens the bowels and induces laxation: for chronic costipation due to dryness of the bowels in the elderly, after giving birth, of after laying in bed for a long period, cistanche is prescribed alone in a decoction (use up to 30 g) or with hemp seed, aquilaria (chen xiang). Chinese angelica dry rehmannia, and bitter orange in a decoction, as in the patented recipe Run Chang Wan.


In a decoction of 10 to 20 g. Up to 30 g may be used  for severe symptoms.


This herb should not be used in cases of  hyperactivity or for those experiencing loose stools due to spleen-yin deficiency or constipation due to excess Heat in the intestinal tract.

Side Effects and Toxicity

No undesirable side effect or toxicity at the therapeutic dose has ever been mentioned in calassical Chinese Materia medica.

Chemical Constituents

Cistanche contains 8-epiloganic acid, glycosides, manhitol, and fifteen amino acids.

Pharmacological Findings

  1. In laboratory test of rabbits, cats, and dogs, cistanche reduced blood pressure.
  2. Invigorates immune function.
  3. It is gonadotropic and invigorates sexual hormone secretions.
  4. Acts as a stomachic and aids digestion.