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Essential Oil Profile: Wintergreen

on February 11, 2015


Scientific Name: Gaultheria Procumbens

Therapeutic Actions: analgesic, anodyne, anti-rheumatic, anti-arthritic, antispasmodic, antiseptic, aromatic, astringent, carminative, diuretic, emenagogue and stimulant

Part Used: Steam distillation of its leaves

History: Wintergreen is a tree native to North America and it is believed to have been Native Americans who discovered the use of its oil to eliminate pain in the muscles & joints and to treat for rheumatism, fever, headaches and sore throats. Wintergreen was also chewed to help increase lung capacity and assist in healing respiratory conditions. Early settlers chewed on wintergreen to help prevent tooth decay. A tea made from the leaves of the wintergreen plant was used as a substitute for tea during the Revolutionary War.

Contraindications: Oral or topical application is best avoided in children. Avoid use in patients with known hypersensitivity to any of the components in wintergreen oil. Avoid use in patients with asthma, known salicylate allergy, or G.I. irritation or inflammation.

Compounds: Menthyl Salicylate and Gaultherilene are the two main components of this essential oil.

Pharmacology: Menthyl Salicylate forms an integral part of almost every antiarthritic and analgesic balm for muscle and joint pain that is available on the market today. Wintergreen is extremely popular with the people suffering from rheumatism, arthritis, gout and pain in their bones and joints from any number of reasons.

LD50: The acute oral LD50 in a rat is 1.3mL. However, in humans methyl salicylate does appear to be more
toxic. Given the numbers of fatalities in years past, with the amount ingested being known in a number of cases, we can estimate a human LD50 of 0.3g For a 132 pound adult, this would translate to the ingestion of about 19mL, or 380 drops of wintergreen essential oil. Keep in mind that 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of wintergreen oil is equivalent to approximately 7000 mg of salicylate or 21.5 adult aspirin tablets.

Side Effects: Taken in large amounts can cause ringing in the ears, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, stomach pain, confusion and even death.

Drug Interactions: Taking wintergreen oil along with warfarin (Coumadin) can increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Do not mix the drug with wintergreen oil without your doctor’s permission. Also, using large amounts of wintergreen oil on your skin and taking aspirin at the same time might increase the risk of side effects.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Children – Wintergreen leaf and oil can be poisonous for children. Taking 4-10 mL of wintergreen oil by mouth can be deadly. Don’t even use wintergreen oil on the skin of children less than 2 years old.

Pregnancy/Breast-Feeding – Wintergreen is safe in amounts found in food, but there’s not enough information to know if it’s safe in the larger amounts that are used as medicine. Don’t take it by mouth or put it on your skin, if you are
pregnant. If you are breast-feeding, don’t take wintergreen by mouth or put it on your skin. Wintergreen products might be toxic to nursing

Stomach & Intestinal Inflammation – Taking wintergreen by mouth might make these conditions worse.

Aspirin/Salicylate Allergy – Wintergreen might cause an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to salicylate compounds, or have asthma or nasal polyps. Use wintergreen with extreme caution if you have one of these conditions.

Additional Information: This essential oil can be poisonous due to the presence of Menthyl Salicylate. It should never be ingested and should not be used for undiluted inhalation. If large amounts of wintergreen are ingested, it can cause severe damage to internal organs like the liver and kidneys. Transdermal application is sufficient for making this oil work internally. One more cautionary note, excessive application on the skin can cause severe skin rashes, burns or open wounds.



********WARNING: The following information is provided to you for a more natural approach to common, everyday ailments.  This information should not replace your primary care physician and as with starting any new medication regiment, please discuss with your doctor.   It is always safest to perform a skin patch test prior to implementing new remedies to be sure you are not allergic. This information is not imparted  to determine dietary changes, provide course of treatment, prescribe as medication or diagnose any diseases/syndromes/conditions/disorders.  Please carefully research new recipes and ideas before implementing. ********

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