Essential oils are the oils from the plants they were extracted from in concentrated form. Essential oils have been used in skincare, folk and alternative medicine, aromatherapy, cosmetics, soaps, perfumes, foods and drinks for centuries.
Botanical Name: Gaultheria procumbens L. Family: Ericaceae.
Synonyms: Boxberry, Canada Tea, Checkerberry, Deerberry, Essence de Gaulthérie, Gaulteria, Gaultheria Oil, Gaultheria procumbens, Gaulthérie Couchée, Ground Berry, Hilberry, Huile de Thé des Bois, Mountain Tea, Oil of Wintergreen, Partridge Berry, Petit Thé, Petit Thé des Bois, Spiceberry, Teaberry, Thé de Montagne, Thé de Terre-Neuve, Thé du Canada, Thé Rouge, Thé des Bois, Wax Cluster.
Origin: Native to North America.
A small mat-forming woody shrub up to 15-cm (6 in.) high, with slender creeping stems, flowering branches and bright green leathery serrated leaves at the top, and white or pinkish bell-shaped flowers. The berries are red and fleshy. Wintergreen once commonly referred to plants that remain green (continue photosynthesis) throughout the winter. The term evergreen is now more commonly used for this characteristic.
Most species of the shrub genus Gaultheria demonstrate this characteristic and are called wintergreens in North America, the most common generally being the Eastern Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens). Wintergreen berries, from Gaultheria procumbens, are used medicinally. Native Americans brewed a tea from the leaves to alleviate rheumatic symptoms, headache, fever, sore throat and various aches and pains. During the American Revolution, wintergreen leaves were used as a substitute for tea, which was scarce.
Wintergreen is a common flavoring in American products ranging from root beer, chewing gum, mints and candies to smokeless tobacco such as dipping tobacco (American “dip” snuff) and snus. It is also a common flavoring for dental hygiene products such as mouthwash and toothpaste.
Aroma Profile: The top note is sweet, aromatic, creamy-fruity, powerful. The body note is intensely sweet-aromatic, fresh and penetrating. The dry-out is sweet-woody. Refreshing, bracing, invigorating.
Blending: blends well with essential oils of mints, narcissus, Black pepper, ginger, eucalyptus, ginger, arnica, oregano, thyme, vanilla, spearmint, and ylang-ylang.
Allergy: it can produce allergy-like symptoms or asthma due to methyl salicylate (approx. 98%) content. (An aspirin-like chemical that might reduce pain, swelling, and fever.)
Uses: Wintergreen oil is used topically (diluted) or in aromatherapy as a folk remedy for muscle and joint discomfort, arthritis, cellulite, edema, poor circulation, headache, heart disease, hypertension, rheumatism, tendinitis, cramps, inflammation, eczema, hair care, psoriasis, gout, or ulcers. In skincare salicylic acid (beta hydroxy acid) can be derived from wintergreen oil.
Wintergreen used to be used as medicine, here’s why the essential oil shouldn’t be taken orally:
The liquid salicylate dissolves into tissue and also into capillaries, so avoid overuse. 30 ml (about 1 fl oz) of oil of wintergreen is equivalent to 55.7 g of aspirin, or about 171 adult aspirin tablets (US). This conversion illustrates the potency and potential toxicity of oil of wintergreen even in small quantities!Use wintergreen with care! Do not take the essential oil orally! It can cause ringing in the ears, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, stomach pain, asprin allergy (in those with an aspirin allergy) and confusion. Since wintergreen oil is safe in the small quantities, there is a mistaken impression that wintergreen oil is safe in all quantities. This is false. Wintergreen oil is very toxic and can prove fatal in quantities as small as 4 ml or a tablespoon. Moreover, it is not necessary to ingest wintergreen oil for it to prove fatal. There have been documented cases where liberal topical application of the oil has proved fatal. In fact, the FDA has issued guidelines that products should not have concentrations of more than 5% wintergreen oil, and that if the concentration is higher, it is necessary that the bottle should have a printed warning. Also wintergreen oil is an emmenagogue, which means that it promotes blood flow to the pelvic region. This is dangerous for pregnant women because it can cause miscarriages. The oil needs to be kept out of reach of children as their lower body weight makes even smaller quantities fatal.
That being said, here is a link to some recipes that use Wintergreen Essential Oil Topically. Please use these recipes occasionally only!
Essential Oil should not be applied directly to the skin but in carrier oils, putting the oils directly on the skin is too harsh due to their concentrated form. Add a few drops of wintergreen essential oil to the carrier oil.
If you are pregnant, receiving cancer treatment, have an aspirin allergy or have a weakened immune system the use of essential oils (wintergreen) is not recommended!
While essential oil will not go rancid, carrier oils can. Store your carrier oils in a cool, dry, and dark place.