cistanche immune system benefits

Cistanche Immune System Benefits: How Does It Work?

Cistanche is a genus of holoparasitic desert plants in the family Orobanchaceae. These plants are characterized by their lack of chlorophyll and ability to obtain nutrients from the roots of other plants. Cistanche species are found in arid regions of Asia, Africa, and the Mediterranean. Cistanche has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries and is known for its immune-boosting properties. In this article, we will explore how the Cistanche immune system supports and strengthens our body's defense against diseases and illnesses.


Cistanche Immune System Benefits

Enhancing Immune Defenses

Scientists have conducted numerous studies using cell cultures and animals to investigate Cistanche extract's potential in supporting the aging immune system.

These studies indicate that Cistanche may offer assistance for immune system:

  • Elevating levels of natural killer cells contribute to the defense against tumors and various pathogens.[1]
  • Stimulating the generation of naïve T cells and B cells are essential components in combating pathogens. [2]
  • Facilitating the proper functioning of the immune system through its anti-inflammatory actions. [2]
  • Reducing levels of the detrimental proinflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6). [3]
  • Enhancing the activity of dendritic cells, aiding in activating naïve T cells. [4]

Regulating Neuroinflammation

Neuroinflammation refers to inflammation that occurs in the brain and nervous system, often due to injury, infection, or neurodegenerative diseases. The benefits of Cistanche on the immune system and neuroinflammation regulation can potentially be attributed to:

  • Its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to modulate immune responses. [6]
  • Cistanche's antioxidant properties can help reduce oxidative stress, a common factor linked to neuroinflammation.
  • Cistanche tubulosa safeguards dopaminergic neurons by modulating apoptosis and influencing the production of glial cell-derived neurotrophic elements, both in vivo and in vitro. [7]
  • Inhibiting the production of proinflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), which are involved in the inflammatory response.

By reducing the production of these inflammatory molecules, Cistanche may help to dampen neuroinflammation.

Benefits of Cistanche For Anti-Aging

Cistanche species, known as the desert's equivalent of ginseng, has long been recognized in traditional Chinese pharmacopeia for its diverse biological properties. This remarkable plant has been utilized as a medicinal herb with anti-aging properties. [9]

Cistanche immune system benefits include boasting a wealth of bioactive compounds, particularly phenylethanoid glycosides, renowned for their remarkable immunomodulatory properties. These compounds exhibit the potential to bolster immune function and decelerate the aging process. [8]

Moreover, Cistanche is thought to exert a beneficial influence on hormonal equilibrium, which is paramount in numerous physiological processes, including aging. By promoting hormonal balance, Cistanche may contribute to overall well-being and decelerate age-related alterations.

Cistanche Immune System Benefits For Longevity

Cistanche is renowned for its numerous biological activities and historical use as an herbal tonic, leading to its potential as a longevity aid.

Cistanche is an adaptogen that helps the body adapt to stress and maintain balance. Chronic stress is known to accelerate aging and increase the risk of age-related diseases.

By supporting the body's stress response and promoting overall well-being, Cistanche may help mitigate the adverse effects of stress on longevity.

Cistanche immune system benefits for longevity

Stimulation Of Growth Hormone

In the water extract of Cistanche tubulosa (Schenk) R. Wight, three phenylethanoid glycosides, namely echinacoside, tubuloside A, and acteoside, were identified.

Among them, echinacoside, the primary compound, was isolated and purified. Notably, when echinacoside was present at a concentration exceeding 10 M, it exhibited remarkable efficacy in stimulating growth hormone secretion in rat pituitary cells. [9]

Several studies propose that Cistanche, including growth hormone, could impact hormone production and secretion. This herb is believed to regulate the activity of endocrine glands, particularly the pituitary gland, which is crucial for growth hormone regulation.

How Does Cistanche Benefit For The Immune System?

Cistanche is believed to modulate the immune system through various mechanisms of action:

Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Cistanche has the potential to hinder the production and function of proinflammatory agents like cytokines (such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha or TNF-α, interleukin-6 or IL-6) and prostaglandins, which are linked to inflammation. [10]

Antioxidant Activity: Cistanche is rich in various antioxidants such as phenylethanoid glycosides, iridoids, polysaccharides, and flavonoids. These potent compounds collaborate to effectively neutralize harmful free radicals and shield cells against oxidative damage. [11]

Cytokine Regulation: Cistanche has been found to impact the function of T-cells, a specific type of white blood cell that plays a crucial role in immune responses and the production of cytokines. It can potentially regulate the proliferation and activation of T-cells, thus influencing the release of cytokines.

Enhancement of Immune Cell Activity: According to several studies, Cistanche has been found to potentially boost the functioning of immune cells, such as macrophages and dendritic cells. These crucial cells are responsible for identifying and effectively responding to foreign substances.

Other Benefits Of Cistanche

In addition to Cistanche immune system benefits, this herb is associated with several other health benefits. Here are some of the reported benefits of Cistanche:

  • Sexual health and fertility support [12]
  • Kidney health support
  • Anti-fatigue and energy enhancement. [13]
  • Anti-diabetic effects. [14]

Cistanche helps to improve sexual health


In conclusion, Cistanche is a powerful plant used in traditional medicine for centuries due to its immune-boosting properties. Through Cistanche immune system benefits for enhancing immune defenses and regulating neuroinflammation, Cistanche can benefit our overall health and longevity.


[1] Nair, A., Chattopadhyay, D., & Saha, B. (2019). Plant-Derived Immunomodulators. Elsevier EBooks, 435–499.
[2] Zhang, A., Xiao-sheng, Y., Li, Q., Yu, Y., Zhao, G., Wang, B., & Wu, D. (2018). Immunostimulatory activity of water-extractable polysaccharides from Cistanche deserticola as a plant adjuvant in vitro and in vivo. PLOS ONE, 13(1), e0191356–e0191356.
[3] Wang, H., Li, Y., Bian, Y., Li, X., Wang, Y., Wu, K., Liu, C., Liu, Y., & Wang, X. (2022). Potential hepatoprotective effects of Cistanche deserticola Y.C. Ma: Integrated phytochemical analysis using UPLC-Q-TOF-MS/MS, target network analysis, and experimental assessment. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 13.
[4] Zhao, B., Jun, L., Wang, D., Li, Q., Feng, S., Li, J., & Zhang, A. (2019). Evaluation of aqueous extracts of Cistanche deserticola as a polysaccharide adjuvant for seasonal influenza vaccine in young adult mice. Immunology Letters, 213, 1–8.
[5] Liao, Y., Wang, J., Guo, C., Bai, M., Zheng, R., Wen, L., Ju, B., Ding, Y., Hu, J., & Yang, J. (2023). Cistanche tubulosa alleviates ischemic stroke-induced blood-brain barrier damage by modulating microglia-mediated neuroinflammation. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 309, 116269–116269.
[6] Fu, Z., Fan, X., Wang, X., & Gao, X. (2018). Cistanches Herba: An overview of its chemistry, pharmacology, and pharmacokinetics property. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 219, 233–247.
[7] Xu, Q., Fan, W., Ye, S.-F., Yu, C., Qin, W., Chen, S., & Cai, J. (2016). Cistanche tubulosa Protects Dopaminergic Neurons through Regulation of Apoptosis and Glial Cell-Derived Neurotrophic Factor: in vivo and in vitro. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 8.
[8] Wang, N., Ji, S., Zhang, H., Mei, S., Qiao, L., & Jin, X. (2017). Herba Cistanches: Anti-aging. Aging and Disease, 8(6), 740–740.
[9] Wu, C.-J., Chien, M.-Y., Lin, N.-H., Lin, Y.-C., Chen, W., Chen, C.-H., & Jason T.C. Tzen. (2019). Echinacoside Isolated from Cistanche tubulosa Putatively Stimulates Growth Hormone Secretion via Activation of the Ghrelin Receptor. Molecules, 24(4), 720–720.
[10] Liao, Y., Wang, J., Guo, C., Bai, M., Zheng, R., Wen, L., Ju, B., Ding, Y., Hu, J., & Yang, J. (2023). Cistanche tubulosa alleviates ischemic stroke-induced blood-brain barrier damage by modulating microglia-mediated neuroinflammation. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 309, 116269–116269.
[11] Antonella Delicato, Masi, M., Francisco de Lara, Rubiales, D., Paolillo, I., Lucci, V., Falco, G., Calabrò, V., & Evidente, A. (2022). In vitro characterization of iridoid and phenylethanoid glycosides from Cistanche phelypaea for nutraceutical and pharmacological applications. Phytotherapy Research, 36(11), 4155–4166.
[12] Jiang, Z., Wang, J., Li, X., & Zhang, X. (2016). Echinacoside and Cistanche tubulosa (Schenk) R. wight ameliorate bisphenol A-induced testicular and sperm damage in rats through gonad axis regulated steroidogenic enzymes. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 193, 321–328.
[13] Co., B.-T. (2022, March 6). Research Of Cistanche Of Anti-fatigue Effects - Anti Fatigue - News - Chengdu Wecistanche Bio-Tech Co., Ltd.; Chengdu Wecistanche Bio-Tech Co., Ltd.
[14] Xiong, W.-T., Gu, L., Wang, C., Sun, H., & Liu, X. (2013). Anti-hyperglycemic and hypolipidemic effects of Cistanche tubulosa in type 2 diabetic db/db mice. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 150(3), 935–945.
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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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