Labdanum Essential Oil.
Dec 19, 2019
Labdanum (Cistus ladanifer).
Labdanum is known by several names. You might see the name of Rock Rose. This is another name that the oil is known by. But by and large, the more common name is Labdanum in most circles. The plant that this oil comes from is found mostly in the Mediterranean region of the world. The plant variety found in the western region is known by the Latin name of Cistus ladanifer and the plant variety found in the eastern region is known by the Latin name of Cistus creticus. For the most part, for purposes of this discussion, there is not a lot of difference between the two species, except that the western region plant has white flowers and the eastern species has pink flowers. Just keep in mind that we are focusing on the western region species and when in the original plant form it is referred to as Rock Rose in general terms.
From a historical perspective, the resin was collected from the plant and used for a variety of medicinal purposes. The primary medicinal uses were female issues, respiratory and rheumatism. As time evolved it was used as a cosmetic accessory, aromatic purposes, as in insenses burning and in fortifying "adult" beverages. As for cosmetic purposes, the mucky-mucks in ancient Egypt would use it on their beards. The drawings that you see of the pharoahs and such with these long pointy beards that were slicked down and shiny were coated with the Rock Rose resin.
The resin was collected by the shepherds as they herded goats and sheep out in the mountains and foothills. I guess the shepherds had a good side hustle going on. From that point they would trade or sell it to the traders in the coastal areas and from there, it would make the distribution rounds. For the most part the people doing the collecting would use flail or a comb-like tool to collect the resin. As we move forward to the present time, not only is the resin used but the twigs, leaves and even the flowers are used. You will find the Labdanum or Rock Rose in various forms. These forms being a resin, which is the raw form. Then an Absolute, which is obtained from boiling the leaves and twigs, then using a solvent to extract the absolute from that slurry. Then for essential oil, the resin is steam distilled and collected. One would think that by going through these processes it would end up producing a product that is of lower viscosity. but it doesn't end up that way. It is also found as an oleoresin. An oleoresin is similar to concrete in aromatherapy. They fit in the process of the absolutes. So the absolute or the essential oil is very thick, much like a thick syrup. The coloring of this is usually a rich darker brown with the essential with the absolute having a green hue coloring to it. The unfortunate thing about this Labdanum in either absolute or essential oil is that it is very pricey. It will cost anywhere from 25% to 50% more than Frankincense when compared on a quality level basis. It is also hard to find a solidly high-quality Labdanum product. The lesser quality ones are almost as difficult to find, yet pricey in their own right. Generally, the aroma is more of a musky, leathery, woody, with a tinge of sweetness to it.
An interesting profile of this plant is that it contains a long list of low level, percentage-wise, of components. Usually, the largest percentage of elements in this oil is a-Pinene. This one can be well over 1/3 of the amount, ie; 33% up to the low 40% range. Next is 3-Phenylprionic acid. I doubt that you have seen that one very often. It is widely used as a flavoring agent in food as well as a preservative in food and medicine. I feel like this could be used as a preservative in many of these medicines than the dangerous ones they use. I am sure the cost is a factor, every little penny counts, right? It is also used as a fixative in many applications. From those 2 elements, it drops down to the mid-single-digit range, percentage-wise, of the long list of elements down to almost barely registering. Most of them are elements that I haven't seen show up in any of the oils that most of you are even familiar with. What makes this oil nice is the wide range of elements. It makes it very nice for skincare, which this oil is mostly used for in aromatherapy purposes.
From ancient documents we learn of Labdanum, for the most part, the Old Testament is the best to reference that is accessible for most people. In Genesis 37:25 and 43:11. we see a reference to Labdanum being transported. The Onycha is mentioned in Exodus 30;34-36. The Onycha is an ingredient in the holy incense and it has been identified as Labdanum. There are several references that there is controversy over the Myrrh mentioned in the Bible is actually Labdanum. One reference shows that Tucker 1986 claims that when correctly translated, the Myrrh mentioned is actually Labdanum. However, Holmes 1916, claimed that the Myrrh of the Bible as mentioned, most notably at the Crucifixion was actually not just the common Myrrh that we are familiar with of present Myrrh use, but was actually Opopanax. Opopanax has the synonyms of Scented Myrrh, Sweet Myrrh, and Bisabol Myrrh. The common Myrrh carries the Latin name of Commiphora myrrha or Commiphora molmol. The Opoponax or Bisabol Myrrh carries the Latin name of Commiphora guiottii Chiov. Of course, Labdanum carries the name of Cistus ladanifer. I know some of you might say, what difference does it make what name it has. When it comes to properly identifying and making use of a plant, the correct identification is important, as in extremely and vitally important. Although at times 2 plants with different names may be very similar, whereas at other times only a slight variation in the names can result in plants being vastly different.
As to my educated opinion, even that can have vastly different meanings. I tend to agree that the Labdanum is actually the true Myrrh that we hear of in the Bible. But on the other hand, the Bisabol Myrrh may actually be the true one. In either case, these two oils are more similar in end-use, same types of purposes and they actually work for those purposes much better than the Myrrh of the myrrha or molmol types. But on the other hand, having the myrrha type for Myrrh indications is 100% better than not having it at all.
One of the good things about Labdanum is that it mixes well with other oils, such as Lavender and German Chamomile. When mixed with other oils, the Labdanum tends to take on and enhances the effect of the properties of those oils that it is mixed with. Such as a skin-healing oil, it will make it much better for the physical needs of using that oil. When mixed with an emotional use of oil such as Lavender or German Chamomile, it will make the emotional healing effects much better. I wish we could use this oil more, but due to its high viscosity, (being thick and it's getting thicker as it ages) makes it difficult for most people to use. But about the only time that this oil can be used is in blending, unless it is used up quickly. Even just a slight film or even a drop on the threads of the container will set up so solidly after a short while that you can't get the container lid off. I guess mechanics could use this oil as a lock tight of threads on bolts. So those of you that have this as a sample, make sure the threads on your bottle are wiped clean before attaching the lid to the bottle. The sample was blended with Frankincense at one part Frankincense and 3 parts Labdanum. This solution should keep it liquid enough that it would allow you to use it over a lengthy period of time. The likelihood of it becoming oxidized is very slim to none.
As we bring this discussion to a close, one might ask, well, how do I use this oil? Well, think of Labdanum as being a super-enhanced Myrrh oil. So anything that you would use Myrrh for, you can use Labdanum. When I say super-enhanced, I am not to be taken that you need to cut the amount used, down. It is just a more a wider spectrum of oil than Myrrh and carries a more diverse set of components that work in harmony with each other. So you would use the same amount of Labdanum as you would common Myrrh, but you would likely experience more observable results. for those of you that are on the R & D program and have received this oil, I would love to hear of your observations. It doesn't matter what those observations might be, all comments and ideas with these R & D oils are important. The observations play a huge role in what oils get put into the cue for future releases. So with that, itis hoped that you enjoy this oil.