Rhododendron (Rhododendron anthopogon) a member of the Ericaceae Family is native to the temperate regions of Asia, North America and Europe, as well as the tropical regions of southeast Asia and norther Australia. There are more than 850 different natural species in the Genus (group) Rhododendron and many of the species are potentially quite toxic. Rhododendron anthopogon is the only species from which an essential oil is distilled. Also known as Himalayan Dwarf Rhododendron.
The leaves and fresh flowers of the rhododendron are used as a tea substitute by Himalayan healers to promote digestive fire, to stimulate the appetite and to treat disorders of the liver. A colourless to pale yellow essential oils is obtained through steam distillation of the aerial parts of the plant with a 1 – 2% yield.
The essential oil consists mainly of Monoterpenes (58%) and Sesquiterpenes (28%). Because of the high pinene content of this oil, it can oxidize easily. It may also cause skin sensitization in sensitive individuals. Due to its high pinene content it has the potential to cause skin sensitization. Also due to its high pinene content the oil may oxidize easily.
Psychologically, it has calming, grounding and centering properties and can be helpful in cases of depression, fear and anxiety.
On the physiological level it has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-spasmodic, decongestant and immuno-stimulant properties and can be very helpful in reducing nasal mucous production and swelling. Rhododendron is also helpful in cases of Rheumatoid Arthritis. It is considered to be a liver tonic and can support both the liver and the functioning of the adrenal glands.
Contraindications: Generally considered non-toxic, non-irritating and non-sensitizing.