Few realize that anthopogon, known more commonly as rhododendron and found so prolifically throughout European and North American gardens today-is native to the Himalaya. Known more for its brilliant blossoming that covers hillsides from Bhutan to central Nepal, few have encountered its fragrant and unique scent, let alone traditional therapeutic properties. In the Sowa Rigpa (Tibetan medicine traditional), anthopogon (known as balu ot sunpati) grows as a shrub on open slopes from 3300-5100 meters. The leaves and fresh flowers, are made into a tea by Himalayan healers and drunk to promote digestive heat, stimulate appetite and relieve liver disorders. Anthopogon tea is also drunk for sore throat, and to counteract water-earth illness, fire headaches, fire back pain, cold, blood disorders, bone disease, potato allergies, and vomiting.
Most significant, anthopogon has been collected and gathered by high Himalayan people from Dolpo, Mustang to the Sherpas and Bhutanese as a scared fragrant substance to be burnt in offering to please and harmonize the earthly divine-especially local earth spirit. It is one five common Himalayan incense herbs symbolizing the elements that are offered to sanctify and pacify the environment. Almost balsamic in scent, rhododendron essential oil can be used on the skin and hair. According to Himalayan aromatherapy, rhododendron has grounding, calming, and centering properties.
Anthopogon oil is obtained from the steam distillation of the ariel portions of Rhododendron Anthopogon D. Don.
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