Labdanum as Incense

Labdanum - Cistus Incanus var. creticus has fascinated people for many centuries. It is said to reach deep into our subconscious and bring back memories, pictures, feelings and moods.

Labdanum originates from the rockrose bush. To this day it is still gathered by driving goats into the thick forests overgrown with labdanum bushes. The goats eat their fill from the branches and the sticky resin gets stuck on their beards. When they return, their owners carefully comb the resin our of their beards. Also used is a rakelike instrument with long strips of leather attached to it, which they drag across the bushes to collect the resin.

Labdanum strengthens the body and provides warmth and sensuality. It is very grounding.
The fragrance of Labdanum is very complex. This waxy resin produces a balsamlike, woody, earthy, marshy, smoky, ambergrislike, leathery, flowery, honeylike, mintlike fragrance with hints of plum or oakmoss after a rain.

The Japanese use Labdanum in their Neriko mixtures, which are used during tea ceremony. Egyptians used it in their Kyphi mixtures and the Hebrews burned it in their temples. Today the perfume industry uses labdanum to add a note of moss and leather to its products.

Labdanum is an excellent medium for making fragrant incense pellets.


Chypre perfume - oakmoss - labdanum fro Cistus Creticus part 2

Glossary by http://theperfumedcourt.com


Chypre - Chypre is an ancient perfume, originally combining fresh citrus notes with oakmoss and some animalic notes. The Romans used to produce a perfume in Cyprus, the Greek Island; Cyprus in French is Chypre. It contained storax, labdanum and calamus and smelled heavy and Oriental. It continued to be manufactured throughout the Middle Ages in Italy and then in France, with oakmoss at its base. About 100 years ago, Coty made his famous Chypre fragrance in 1917 that was based on the contrast of a citrusy top note and the pungent, earthy oakmoss base note. The main ingredients of a Chypre are oakmoss, patchouli, labdanum or clary sage, with the addition of floral middle notes such as rose-jasmine and a bright sweet top note of bergamot or lemon. In order to qualify as a classic chypre, the basic cord must always be bergamot-oakmoss-labdanum. Today, however, many “modern” chypres do not share this accord and are classed as “mossy woods” in the Michael Edwards system. Pronounced: sheep-ra.


Labdanum - An aromatic gum that originates from the rockrose bush. The sweet woody odor is said to mimic ambergris and can also be used to impart a leather note.


Oakmoss - Derived from a lichen that grows on oak trees. In French it is mousse de chene.

Only Cistus Creticus sprouts in the island of Cyprus.


Mecca Balsam from La Via del Profumo

by Walker Minton http://www.basenotes.net

A new Scent by La Via del Profumo, “Mecca Balsam” has been added to the “Scents Of The Soul” collection. As with all his products, perfumer Dominique Dubrana has composed this from 100% natural ingredients.

The inspiration for Mecca Balsam came from his own journey to Mecca. He composed it to encapsulate the olfactory signature of the Holy City itself and “the trail of a million scents in the wake of the pilgrims”.

At its centre lies Labdanum and it features also tonka, frankincense Indian tuberose, tobacco and damask Rose.

It is intended for men and women alike. It is available now from profumo.it at 34 Euros for 16ml and 92 Euros for 50ml.


IFRA - Chypre perfume - oakmoss - labdanum fro Cistus Creticus

Extracts from very beautiful article for the laudanum.


Labdanum: an important material

It is well known to our readers by now that chypre perfumes are dependent on a strict formula that juxtaposes bergamot and oakmoss, interlaying labdanum and other earthy elements such as vetiver or patchouli.
Perfume Shrine has already focused on oakmoss extensively (click for relevant article), so the other important material that needed tackling was labdanum. And so here we are today, trying to examine some of its facets.


Labdanum's odour profile is highly complex. It is balsamlike, with woody, earthy, smoky, and even marshy undertones. Some even desrcibe it as ambergris-like, or leathery and honeylike with hints of plum or oakmoss after a rain. Usually it is referred to as ambery, but it is mostly used to render leather or ambergris notes, the latter especially after its ban on using the real animal-derived material, as there were concerns about the ethical production of it from sperm whales from which it originates (Ambergris is therefore very rare and costly if ethically harvested and is mostly synthesized in the lab. Please read this amber article for more info).



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What is the Egyptian goatee called?

Answer from WikiAnswer.com

"In death, the kings were frequently portrayed wearing the divine Osird form of the beard, which was a long, narrow beard of several strands plaited like a pigtail with the end jutting forward, as on the gold mask of Tutankhamun. Even deceased non-royal men were shown with short, tuft-like beards. However, this is not a clear cut indication, for the dead king was not always presented with this type of beard.

Such beards in ancient Egyptian art, regardless of their context, always appear to represent divine nature, though certainly not all male gods wore such beards."

"In ancient times, the resin was scraped from the fur of goats and sheep that had grazed on the cistus shrubs. It was collected by the shepherds and sold to coastal traders. The false beards worn by the pharaohs of ancient Egypt were actually the labdanum soaked hair of these goats. Later long poles with leather or cloth strips were used to sweep the shrubs and coll
ect the resin which was later extracted. It was used to treat colds, coughs, menstrual problems and rheumatism."

also called a "goat's-hair" beard

on line shopping labdanum from cistus creticus


ONCE UPON A TIME … (about labdanum).

In prehistoric (neolithic) North Africa there lived, amongst many peoples, a tribe of nomadic goat-herders. Occasionally, these people noticed that their goats acquired a blackish, sticky substance on their fleeces and eventually they realised that if this substance were removed and burned, it provided a very fragrant smoke.

As a brief aside it is worth mentioning that the use of aromatic materials as incense is the origin of perfumery and of aromatherapy. The w
ord perfume itself comes from the Latin words per fumum, meaning through smoke.
Having lived in North Africa, not far from the Nile delta, I can appreciate what kind of impact a pleasant smell had on the people who lived there at that time. Even living with the benefits of hot water and soap one starts to smell like a cheese one or two hours after a shower. In summer the coolest time of day is in the middle of the night. Even then, with all windows open and movement restricted as near as possible to nil, the perspiration pours off as if one were in a sauna.
Goat with labdanum.
The value of a fragrant substance was apparent to our nomads and they isolated the origin of the black sticky stuff. The goats ‘collected’ it as they grazed among the rock roses (labdanum). It can’t have been long before the goats were removed from the equation. The invention of the ladanesterion, a flail with leather thongs later named after the plant by the Greeks, may have been the first technology to be related to aromatics. With it the nomads could flail the plants, the resin sticking to the thongs. From these it could be more conveniently squeeged off than it could from goats’ fleeces. (They actually used sand to separate the labdanum from the ladanesterion, the sand being easily removed later).

Naturally enough, the labdanum resin so collected was much in demand and the nomads eventually gave up goat herding to become labdanum traders. They were so successful in this that they became the first dynasty of Egypt. If you examine pictures of pharoahs or of Osiris (the imagery is largely interchangeable) you will see that the arms are crossed over the chest, one hand bearing a crook (a legacy of the goat-herding days), the other hand bearing a flail (ladanesterion). The pharoah wears a false beard (even if female!) actually made from goat hair which was evidently stuck to the chin using labdanum.

The importance of aromatics in antiquity is thrown into sharp relief when it is realised that that the humble rock rose is responsible for the iconic imagery so well known to us five thousand years later even if we have largely forgotten that the roots of this imagery are in incense (per fumum).

The oleoresin is obtained from various species of cistus , the best material being collected between May and July. It was Dioscorides who first mentioned the ladanesterion method of collection but the first written mention of labdanum as a modern medicine occurred in 1589 when it was listed in Dispensatorium Noricum. Its use as a medicine does seem to stretch back into antiquity though, because, although its principal uses were in incense and in the mummification process (along
with the much better known frankincense and myrrh) there are ancient references to its use for liver and stomach problems as well as a remedy for breathing difficulties and for the loss of the hair.

The essential oil has a specific gravity of 0.925 and its boiling point can be as high as 280 deg., one of the reasons why it is an excellent fixative. Another reason is that, in the right proportion, it imparts an ambergris* note which is invaluable in some types of fine fragrances and lavender compounds.
*Ambergris is a pathological secretion of the sperm whale and was extensively used in former times as a fixer and toner for perfumes. While whaling is still carried out by Norwegian and Japanese barbarians it is very important for us not to use it. When whaling is a thing of the past, all ambergris appearing on the market will be ‘found’ and consequently usable.


A polyphenol rich plant extract from Cistus incanus exerts a potent anti-influenza activity against avian and human influenza subtypes.

Cistus Incanus

Infections with influenza A viruses still pose a major threat to humans and several animal species. The occurrence of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses of the H5N1 subtype capable to infect and kill humans highlights the urgent need for new and efficient countermeasures against this viral disease. Here we demonstrate that a polyphenol rich extract (CYSTUS052) from the Mediterranean plant Cistus incanus exerts a potent anti-influenza virus activity in A549 or MDCK cell cultures infected with prototype avian and human influenza strains of different subtypes. CYSTUS052 treatment resulted in a reduction of progeny virus titers of up to two logs. At the effective dose of 50 microg/ml the extract did not exhibit apparent harming effects on cell viability, metabolism or proliferation, which is consistent with the fact that these plant extracts are already used in traditional medicine in southern Europe for centuries without any reported complications. Viruses did not develop resistance to CYSTUS052 when compared to amantadine that resulted in the generation of resistant variants after only a few passages. On a molecular basis the protective effect of CYSTUS052 appears to be mainly due to binding of the polymeric polyphenol components of the extract to the virus surface, thereby inhibiting binding of the hemagglutinin to cellular receptors. Thus, a local application of CYSTUS052 at the viral entry routes may be a promising approach that may help to protect from influenza virus infections.


Genealogy of Perfumes - Chypre perfume


Perfumes - just like food, music or wine - can be classified into groups, and this gives you a framework which is very useful when choosing a perfume for yourself or for others. Without it, describing fragrances is difficult. Imagine going into a shop to buy some music, and not knowing the difference between Pop, Classical and Jazz - you would have quite a problem!

Chypre. Chypr

Chypre. Chypre is the French for Cyprus and comes from when the Crusader's invaded in the 13th century and brought back a material called labdanum from the sticky buds of the Cistus bush. It has a heavy, sweet, balsamic type of odour but when blended with other base notes like sandalwood, patchouli and oakmoss, made a very popular base. You need to allow at least 10-15 minutes after application to appreciate the similarity between perfumes in this group, since "Chypre" describes the "main-theme" or "base" of the perfume which you will not appreciate until the solvent and top notes have had time to evaporate.

Chypre perfumes tend to be fairly heavy fragrances and therefore last a reasonable time on the skin. Sometimes described as evening type perfumes, or "sophisticated". Our fragrances in this group are Cymbelline for the ladies and Amber for men.


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