Few realize that the rhododendron found so prolifically throughout European and North American gardens today is native to the Himalayas. 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 health, stimulate appetite and relieve sore throat, and other maladies.
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. According to Himalayan aromatherapy, rhododendron has grounding, calming, and centering properties.