Wintergreen Oil Health Benefits, Uses, Quality & Best Products Compared

Author: Dr. Michael Tyler
Date: 01.10.2020
Reading time: 4:20 min

Wintergreen oil is a very intensely scented essential oil that is obtained from the plant of the same name.

Name Wintergreen Oil
Lat. Name Gaultheria procumbens
Synonyms Salicylic acid methyl ester, Gaultheria oil, lower shamrock, winter green
Origin North America, Canada
Price per 10ml 3,09

The scent of wintergreen is reminiscent of camphor and vanilla and the taste similar to mint. The scent of the oil is so intense it can even be smelled on the leaves of the plant.

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Internal effect 

The biologically active ingredients of wintergreen oil enable a wide range of uses against a variety of conditions. Some of the oil's properties are unique, especially its analgesic properties. The following explains the most important uses of wintergreen oil:

As a natural pain reliever

Wintergreen oil is also known as herbal aspirin. This is due to its main active ingredient, methyl salicylate. The plant produces this active ingredient as a defense against pests and as a pheromone to warn other plants about harmful insects. The common pain medication aspirin, also known as acetylsalicylic acid, is chemically derived from the same substance, namely salicylic acid. And it is precisely this original substance that is responsible for the pain-relieving effect in our body.

Our body processes both substances, aspirin and wintergreen oil, in the same way. Aspirin has a very important advantage: The active ingredient in aspirin can be precisely dosed. Salicylic acid methyl ester can be very toxic if overdosed and cause serious health problems. 17-year-old Arielle Newman is said to have died from it. However, this is known as an isolated case. Salicylic acid methyl ester is still used in the USA as a flavouring agent in chewing gum. This has not caught on in Europe to this day, as the substance is not appealing to the European palate.

 

Rheumatism, arthritis, and joint pain

Wintergreen oil is used in many arthritis ointments because of its pronounced pain relieving effect. Applied superficially, the substance methyl salicylate works rapidly against the pain that causes rheumatism. The oil can also be used against conventional joint pain - for example after exercise.

The pure oil can also be used for external application and it is not necessary to use synthetic preparations such as ointments or creams, as overdosing can be ruled out with this form of application. Moreover, the oil also has a strong anti-inflammatory effect. This property makes wintergreen oil an excellent remedy for arthritis, a painful inflammation of the joints. The wintergreen oil not only combats the pain caused by arthritis, but also helps directly against the inflammation itself.

Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is the calcification of arteries. It is mainly triggered by a diet high in fats, smoking, diabetes or genetic factors. Certain active ingredients in wintergreen oil help to gently remove blockages in the arteries. The oil cannot replace the intake of conventional medication, but it can support these medications.

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Loss of appetite

Wintergreen oil not only provides pain-relief and anti-inflammatory effects, but also strongly stimulates blood circulation. Oral ingestion increases blood flow to the stomach wall and increases production of gastric juices. Through the increased secretion of gastric acid, our body is signalled that it is able to digest food and thus the appetite also increases.

Side effects 

The salicylic acid methyl ester contained in wintergreen oil is responsible for most of the positive effects of the oil. However, the substance is also known to cause serious health problems in the event of very high overdoses. Pregnant women in particular should therefore refrain from using wintergreen oil.

A high overdose, however, is only to be feared with a copious and long-lasting consumption. Such an overdose is manifested by nervous symptoms such as ringing in the ears, deafness, hallucinations, delirium, local skin irritation, damage to the vascular system and an increased tendency to bleeding.

Application

Doctors recommend 3g as the maximum daily dose. For superficial use on skin, wintergreen oil should always be mixed with a suitable carrier oil, such as olive oil. Mix wintergreen oil in a ratio of 1: 4, i.e. 1 ml of wintergreen oil to 4 ml of the carrier oil. After applying it to your skin, you should always take care not to expose these skin areas to sunlight, as the oil can be phototoxic. This means that the ingredients in the oil can become toxic when exposed to sunlight.

Manufacturing

Wintergreen oil is obtained from the leaves of the Wintergreen plant by means of steam distillation. You need up to 900 kg of plant material to extract 1 liter of oil.

Chemical compositions

  • Salicylic acid methyl ester
  • Eugenol
  • Linalool
  • Arbutin

Botany

Wintergreen is a plant from the wintergreen family. It reaches heights of growth of up to 15 cm and is endemic to the subarctic areas of the northern hemisphere. The name 'wintergreen' comes from the ability of the plant to neither shed its leaves in winter nor wither. They are even green in winter. The colour of the flowers ranges from white to slightly pink. Wintergreen forms deep red berries that give off an intense, sweet scent when mashed. As a place of growth, the plant prefers nutrient-poor, moist and, above all, alkaline soils. The local occurrence of wintergreen can be very limited, but it grows in colonies and accepts few other plants there.

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