What Are Differences Between Cistanche Deserticola Vs Tubulosa?

What Are Differences Between Cistanche Deserticola Vs Tubulosa?

In herbal supplements, two closely linked plants, Cistanche Deserticola, and Cistanche Tubulosa, stand out for their unique benefits and uses. This discussion aims to highlight the distinguishing features of these botanical siblings in arid landscapes, emphasizing their importance in traditional and modern healthcare practices.


What Is Cistanche?

Cistanche, scientifically known as Cistanche Hoffmg

Cistanche, scientifically known as Cistanche Hoffmg. Et Link holds a significant position in traditional Chinese medicine and is nicknamed "Desert Ginseng" for its broad health benefits. This herbal powerhouse is highly valued for enhancing sexual performance, boosting cognitive functions, prolonging lifespan, and promoting bodily secretions.

Among the approximately 22 recognized Cistanche species globally, only four species and one variant are indigenous to China and still exist today. The focus on Cistanche Deserticola and Cistanche Tubulosa is especially intriguing due to their remarkable resilience in thriving in harsh desert environments.

Their robust nature ensures their survival and plays a pivotal role in maintaining their availability in the market, emphasizing the importance of adopting sustainable cultivation methods.

What Are Popular Types Of Cistanche?

Cistanche Deserticola

Cistanche Deserticola is native to the arid deserts of Northwest China.

Cistanche Deserticola, a distinct species within the Cistanche genus, is native to the arid deserts of Northwest China. Found at elevations between 225 and 1150 meters, it is prevalent in regions such as Inner Mongolia, Gansu, and Shanxi.

Revered in traditional Chinese medicine, this plant provides various health benefits.

  • It has been utilized to boost testosterone levels and sperm protection, thus combating sexual dysfunction [6].
  • It also plays a crucial role in gastrointestinal health by regulating moisture absorption in the intestines, promoting bone formation by stimulating androgen release, and offering antioxidant benefits by mitigating oxidative stress and enhancing cognitive function through neuroprotection [6].
  • Cistanche Deserticola supports immune regulation, liver protection, and reduction of fatigue [6].

However, the vulnerability of this species to overharvesting poses a risk to its sustainability and necessitates protection measures to ensure its future existence and availability for medicinal use.

Cistanche Tubulosa

Cistanche Tubulosa is a notable species within the Cistanche genus

Cistanche Tubulosa, recognized under the name Cistanches Herba in Japanese and Chinese Pharmacopoeias, is a notable species within the Cistanche genus.

It garners significant attention for its range of health benefits:

  • Traditionally employed to combat sexual dysfunctions such as impotence and infertility, alleviate back pain, and counter general weakness by enhancing blood circulation [5].
  • It also demonstrates vasodilative effects, aiding in the relaxation of blood vessels, and showcases liver-protective and glucose metabolism-improving properties [5].
  • Further research, particularly experimental studies on animal models, reveals its potential in diabetes management, providing negative emotional relief in depression and stimulating growth hormone production [2, 3, 7].

Including Cistanche Tubulosa in significant pharmacopeias attests to its therapeutic value, marking it as a potent supplement for various health concerns.

Cistanche Deserticola Vs Tubulosa: The Comprehensive Comparison

The Similarities Of Cistanche Deserticola And Tubulosa

Both Cistanche Deserticola and Tubulosa boast a rich chemical profile replete with volatile oils

Included in the Chinese Pharmacopoeia since 2005, both species boast a rich chemical profile replete with volatile oils, non-volatile phenylethanoid glycosides, iridoids, lignans, alditols, oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides.

These compounds are pivotal for their combined health advantages, enhancing cognitive functions and sexual well-being and offering potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

These biochemical components underscore the fundamental similarities among these powerful herbal remedies, cementing their crucial role in traditional and contemporary medicine.

What’s Differences Between Cistanche Deserticola Vs Tubulosa?


While sharing the same genus, Cistanche Deserticola, and Cistanche Tubulosa exhibit notable distinctions that allow for easy identification and appreciation of their unique botanical features.

  • Cistanche Deserticola is recognized for its significantly taller and thicker stem, which can reach up to 160 cm in height and 15 cm in diameter. Its scales exhibit a color range from white to yellow and vary in shape, including oval, triangular, conical, or linear forms.
  • Conversely, Cistanche Tubulosa stands out with its vibrant yellow flowers clustered in a pyramid shape, potentially growing up to one meter tall.

These differences in stem size, scale shape, and bloom characteristics provide a practical method for distinguishing between the two species and highlight the diversity within the Cistanche genus.


When comparing Cistanche Deserticola with Cistanche Tubulosa, a notable difference can be found in their sensory characteristics, particularly taste. Although they share similar chemical compositions, Cistanche Tubulosa presents a slightly bitter taste, contrasting with the delicate sweetness associated with Cistanche Deserticola.



The Similarities

  • Both are species within the Cistanche genus.
  • Both were recorded in the Chinese Pharmacopoeia in 2005.
  • They share similar chemical composition and pharmacological properties.

The Differences


  • Yellow flowers, growing in pyramid-shaped clusters
  • Can reach up to 1 meter in height
  • Length of 40-60cm
  • Leaves range in color from white to yellow and exhibit various shapes such as oval, triangular, conical, or linear.




The comparison table of Cistanche Deserticola and Tubulosa

Cistanche Tubulosa Vs Cistanche Deserticola: Which Is Better for Health?

Cistanche Tubulosa Vs Cistanche Deserticola: Which Is Better For Health?

When deciding between Cistanche Deserticola and Cistanche Tubulosa, it's essential to consider that both share nearly identical chemical compositions and similar medicinal properties.

Consequently, both varieties offer comparable health benefits, including enhancing cognitive and sexual well-being and providing potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

Their choice largely hinges on personal taste preferences and ease of availability.

To address the endangered status of Cistanche Deserticola, mainly due to overharvesting, it is recommended that Cistanche Tubulosa products be chosen instead.

Opting for Cistanche Tubulosa ensures easier availability and contributes to conservation efforts by decreasing the demand for the more at-risk species.

This mindful choice is crucial in preserving fragile desert ecosystems and securing a sustainable future for these valuable medicinal plants.


Exploring the distinctive qualities of Cistanche Deserticola and Cistanche Tubulosa reveals their unique and collective impacts on traditional and contemporary medicine.

While both share similar chemical compositions and health advantages, choosing Cistanche Tubulosa is recommended for sustainability and preserving desert ecosystems.

This guide illuminates these plants' considerable potential for enhancing human health and underscores the importance of ethical and sustainable approaches.


[1] Hai‐Ning Lv, Zeng, K., Song, Y., Jiang, Y., & Tu, P. (2016). Phytochemical and Pharmacological Overview ofCistancheSpecies. 313–341. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118883303.ch14
[2] Kong, Z.-L., Johnson, A., Ko, F.-C., He, J.-L., & Cheng, S.-C. (2018). Effect of Cistanche Tubulosa Extracts on Male Reproductive Function in Streptozotocin–Nicotinamide-Induced Diabetic Rats. Nutrients, 10(10), 1562. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10101562
[3] Li, Y., Peng, Y., Ma, P., Yang, H., Xiong, H., Wang, M., Peng, C., Tu, P., & Li, X. (2018). Antidepressant-Like Effects of Cistanche tubulosa Extract on Chronic Unpredictable Stress Rats Through Restoration of Gut Microbiota Homeostasis. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2018.00967
[4] Li, Z., Lin, H., Gu, L., Gao, J., & Tzeng, C.-M. (2016). Herba Cistanche (Rou Cong-Rong): One of the Best Pharmaceutical Gifts of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 7, 41. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2016.00041
[5] Morikawa, T., Xie, H., Pan, Y., Ninomiya, K., Yuan, D., Jia, X., Yoshikawa, M., Nakamura, S., Matsuda, H., & Muraoka, O. (2019). A Review of Biologically Active Natural Products from a Desert Plant Cistanche tubulosa. Chemical & Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 67(7), 675–689. https://doi.org/10.1248/cpb.c19-00008
[6] Wang, T., Zhang, X., & Xie, W. (2012). Cistanche deserticola Y. C. Ma, “Desert Ginseng”: A Review. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 40(06), 1123–1141. https://doi.org/10.1142/s0192415x12500838
[7] Wu, C.-J., Chien, M.-Y., Lin, N.-H., Lin, Y.-C., Chen, W.-Y., Chen, C.-H., & Tzen, J. (2019). Echinacoside Isolated from Cistanche tubulosa Putatively Stimulates Growth Hormone Secretion via Activation of the Ghrelin Receptor. Molecules, 24(4), 720. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24040720
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Ralph S. Albert, with over 10 years of expertise in nutrition and research, now heads the Research division at Vinatura Supplements. His dedication and extensive knowledge ensure top-quality articles on nutrition and health, collaborating with a skilled team. He has successfully completed The VINATURA Expertise Research Training Program, underscoring his commitment to Vinatura's mission. Ralph has also published numerous articles and conducted valuable research in the field, making him a trusted resource for individuals on their wellness journey.

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