Rhododendron, or Rhododendron arboreum, is an evergreen shrub or a small to medium-sized tree from the Ericaceae family, with bright red or pale pink flowers. The name ‘Rhododendron’ is derived from the Greek word – ‘rhodo’ which means ‘rose’ and ‘dendron’ which means ‘tree.’ And since this species is more like a tree, it is given the name ‘arboreum’ which means ‘tree-like’. Rhododendrons are distributed throughout the world but they are especially in abundance along the Himalayan regions of India –from Kashmir and Uttarkhand in the North to the hills of Nagaland and Manipur in the Eastern regions. In fact, this plant holds such significant importance to these regions that it is made the state tree in Uttarakhand and the state flower in Nagaland.
Also known by names like burans, buras, rohitaka, lali gurans, and so on, Rhododendrons are one such tree known for their many medicinal uses. Various parts of the plant, such as the leaves and flowers, have long been used in traditional medicine for the treatment of various ailments. However, it is the flower that has garnered the most attention among health enthusiasts even to this day, thanks to its incredible health-benefitting properties. The sweet nectar extracted from its bright red flowers is a common ingredient used, in these regions, to make sharbat or juice, which are commonly known as rhodojuice, which are known to be beneficial in the treatment of menstrual disorders. In addition to that, a decoction of the flowers is also used to treat nausea, loss of appetite, cough, and also for improving skin, liver and heart health.
Beyond its aesthetically appealing looks, Rhododendron’s flowers (and leaves) are a great source of antioxidants and other incredible phytochemicals that helps the body fight free radicals. Furthermore, it also contains rich anti-inflammatory properties that are beneficial in treating inflammation-related complications such as gout, arthritis, bronchitis, etc. Here are some other known benefits of the rhododendron plant.
Benefits of Rhododendron:
Due to its rich phytochemicals content, the consumption of Rhododendron, especially its flower, should be avoided in large quantities. Likewise, consumption of an extract or juice from its leaves should also be done with strict dosage as it may interfere with the action of some medications. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult with a physician or other healthcare professional for concerns.