Rusty-Leaved Rhododendron

Reviewed on 6/11/2021
Other Name(s):

Azalea, Laurier-Rose des Alpes, Rhododendri Ferruginei Folium, Rhododendron Alpin, Rhododendron Ferrugineux, Rhododendron ferrugineum, Rododendro, Rosage, Rose des Alpes, Rose du Diable, Rosebay, Rust-Red Rhododendron, Rusty Leaved Rhododendron, Snow Rose.


Rusty-leaved rhododendron is a plant. It is considered poisonous. Rhododendron honey is known as “mad honey.” Nevertheless, the leaves are used to make medicine.

Despite serious safety concerns, rusty-leaved rhododendron is used in combination with other herbs for painful conditions such as gout, muscle and joint pain (rheumatism), nerve pain (neuralgia), sciatica, face pain (trigeminal neuralgia), muscle pain, migraine, headaches, and rib pain.

Other uses included treatment of extreme tension of the muscles or arteries (hypertonia), joint disease, hardening of muscles, weak connective tissue, sensitivity to weather change, gallstones, kidney stones, high blood pressure, and aging disorders.

How does it work?

Rusty-leaved rhododendron contains chemicals that lower blood pressure. It also contains chemicals that interfere with the electrical activity of nerves, which at low doses might relieve pain associated with some conditions, but at higher doses can result in poisoning.


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Uses & Effectiveness

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Extreme tension of the muscles or arteries (hypertonia).
  • Muscle and joint pain (rheumatism).
  • Joint disease.
  • Hardening of muscles.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Weak connective tissue.
  • Nerve pain (neuralgia).
  • Sensitivity to weather change.
  • Sciatica.
  • Face pain (trigeminal neuralgia).
  • Migraine.
  • Headaches.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Rib pain.
  • Gout.
  • Gallstones.
  • Kidney stones.
  • Aging disorders.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of rusty-leaved rhododendron for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

Rusty-leaved rhododendron is UNSAFE. The entire plant is considered poisonous. Taking rusty-leaved rhododendron can cause weakness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, slow heartbeat, irregular heartbeat, and blurred vision. Symptoms of poisoning include sweating, impaired consciousness, chills, fainting, shock, seizure, cardiac and respiratory arrest, severe stupor, and possibly death.


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Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It's UNSAFE for anyone, especially pregnant or breast-feeding women, to take rusty-leaved rhododendron. It contains poisonous chemicals.


The appropriate dose of rusty-leaved rhododendron depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for rusty-leaved rhododendron. 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 your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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Biberoglu S, Biberoglu K, Komsuoglu B. Mad honey. [Letter to the Editor] JAMA 1988;259:1943.

Furbee B, Wermuth M. Life-threatening plant poisoning. Crit Care Clin 1997;13:849-88. View abstract.