Pain relieving benefits and Uses of Wintergreen essential oil
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Pain relieving benefits and Uses of Wintergreen essential oil

Though several different plants are called by this name, true wintergreen is Gaultheria procumbens, a lowgrowing species of shrub.  It is a member of the heath, or Ericaceae, family. Other names by which wintergreen is known include aromatic wintergreen, boxberry, Canada tea, checkerberry, deerberry, ground berry, mountain tea, partidgeberry, spice berry, teaberry, and wax cluster.


When wintergreen leaves are distilled, they impart an oil, which is made up of 99% methyl salicylate, the chemical compound upon which all aspirin products are based. Before being distilled, wintergreen leaves have to be steeped in water for nearly a day before the oil will develop through fermentation. It is only after this fermentation and the chemical reaction of water and one component, gaultherin, that wintergreen emits its characteristic, pleasant aroma. 


Medicinally, wintergreen leaves are taken internally as a decoction to treat nephritis and bladder problems. It is used as a diuretic, for the treatment of neuralgia , as a systemic tonic, to stimulate menses, and to aid in bringing on lactation after childbirth . It has also been used to relieve children's headaches. Leaves have also been used for headaches and other pains, and as a gargle for a sore throat and mouth.

Externally, oil of wintergreen is widely used in liniments for the relief of muscular-skeletal pain, both from sports injuries and arthritis. Because of its aromatic and pain-relieving qualities, the oil is used in a number of products in aromatherapy, including stress-reducing pulse point creams, foot scrubs, and balms.

Oil of wintergreen, as noted previously, is made by first steeping wintergreen leaves in water for at least 24 hours, and then allowing this mixture to ferment and release its oil. Fermentation is known to have occurred when the characteristic wintergreen aroma is released. This oil is sometimes used externally in dilute solutions in combination with other products such as aloe and beeswax to produce ointments, but either the oil extracted from sweet birch or the synthetic version are more apt to be used by many manufacturers.


As with all essential oils, oil of wintergreen should not be taken internally. In the past, it has been given in a capsule form to treat rheumatism, but excessive doses of it have actually caused death due to severe inflammation of the stomach and gastrointestinal hemorrhage.  It should be avoided in pregnancy as it is one of the essential oils considered toxic in Aromatherapy.  Extra care should be taken to ensure wintergreen essential oil is correctly diluted to no more than 1% (20 drops in 100ml of base) for safety due to the high methyl salicylate content.   This is an essential oil that is best kept for use externally on adults, not children.

Not confident to blend with it?  We have a range of products ready to use containing wintergreen in safe concentrations. 

Arnica & Wintergreen Balm, Arnica & Wintergreen Massage oil & Peppermint & Wintergreen massage in a bottle all make right here in Townsville North Queensland using correct botanical, completely natural, highest quality organically grown wintergreen essential oil.  Confident to use the 100% pure essential oil of wintergreen, you'll find it here.  Bulk massage oil for massage therapists we can also offer.

1 comment

May 12, 2023
Thomas Robertson

Is there any where in New Zealand i can get the wintergreen linament

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