Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) is in the heather family of botanical plants and is native to North America. It is a small evergreen herb that grows only about 6 inches high with slender creeping stems. It has drooping white flowers which are followed by scarlet berries. Native Americans used to chew the stems to increase respiratory capacity. Early American settlers had their children chewed the leaves for several weeks each spring to prevent tooth decay and during the American Revolution, it was a substitute for Black Tea. They so enjoyed the flavor that it has continued to this day as the flavor of root beer, chewing gum and toothpaste. The oil comes from steam distillation of the leaves and produces a strong, penetrating aroma. The chemistry of wintergreen is almost identical to that of birch (98% methyl salicylate-similar to aspirin).
Traditionally wintergreen has been used for respiratory conditions although the primary use recently has been in liniments and salves for muscular problems such as lumbago, sciatica, neuralgia, myalgia, etc. it is known for its ability to tie bone pain.
How Can We Use Wintergreen Essential Oil for our Health Today?
Wintergreen is an anticoagulant, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, vasodilator, analgesic, anesthetic, and it reduces blood pressure. It is used for arthritis and rheumatism, muscle and nerve pain, hypertension, arteriosclerosis, hepatitis and fatty liver. It stimulates and increases awareness in all levels of the sensory system. This is one of the oils used in the Raindrop Technique specifically for its antispasmodic and vasodilator qualities.
Wintergreen can be diluted one part essential oil with two parts mixing oil or it can be used neat (undiluted) on the body. It can be directly inhaled, diffused or taken as a dietary supplement. British model of aromatherapy does not use wintergreen but does use birch instead which is always synthetic. Wintergreen mixes well with calamus, vanilla, lavender, rosemary, sage, birch, fir, mints, juniper, eucalyptus, and ylang ylang. As for safety, it is best avoided with epileptics and should not be used by those allergic to aspirin. The anticoagulant properties can be enhanced when used with Warfarin or aspirin.
Want to learn more about the healing properties of wintergreen and other essential oils? Consider becoming a certified aromatherapist. Educational courses in healing energy and aromatherapy can help you understand how essential oils heal the body / mind / spirit. The Institute of Spiritual Healing & Aromatherapy is teaching courses throughout the United States on essential oils and their healing properties including wintergreen.