Essential Oil of Wintergreen (gaultheria procumbent / fragrantissima)
Disclaimer: I do not recommend any specific brand of essential oils, and I do not get paid or make commission for any sales from any essential oil company. Essential oils are not regulated by the FDA which is why you want to purchase from a highly reputable company. My personal recommendations that I know of are Doterra, Young Living, and Melaleuca.
Aroma: Sweet, minty, refreshing! Smells like wintergreen mints/gum or Bengay. It has a VERY powerful scent.
Benefits: Anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain relief), antispasmodic (relieves spasms), warming.
Properties: HIGHLY concentrated in methyl salicylate. For this reason, wintergreen essential oil can be highly toxic when used incorrectly! More on that below. Methyl salicylate is an ester (chemical compound) that is responsible for the analgesic abilities of the wintergreen essential oil. Fun fact: Only two plants in the world provide this ester in such a high concentration (making up over 90% of the oil): wintergreen and birch.
- Adults only. 13+ may use sparingly: for sports injuries/muscle tension, with permission from their doctor!
- Externally only! Never eat wintergreen essential oil or put it in your mouth.
- Only diffuse wintergreen essential oil around kids older than 10 and adults. In younger children it can cause their respiration to slow.
- When blending and diluting for topical use, keep wintergreen at 2% of the total mixture (with 5ml carrier oil, add 2 drops of wintergreen essential oil. With 10ml, 4 drops. 30ml, 12 drops. Etc).
- Do not use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding – it penetrates quickly through the skin and goes straight into your bloodstream and bodily fluids, directly to the placenta and/or breastmilk!
- Do not use if you are about to have major surgery, have a bleeding disorder, or if you are on an anticoagulant medication like Wayfarin.
- Do not apply on open wounds or skin lesions, as this will increase the absorption to your bloodstream increasing your chance of unpleasant side effects.
Why? + Possible Side Effects:
Salicylates are pain relievers and blood thinners. This is why wintergreen essential oil is often compared to aspirin (acetyl salicylic acid). However, wintergreen is much stronger than aspirin! If ingested, within 30 minutes methyl salicylate is found in blood plasma. Once absorbed, salicylates cross rapidly into all body fluids like saliva and breastmilk. Potential toxic side effects from an overdose affect most organ systems:
- Nervous system: lethargy, hearing loss, tremors, seizures
- Heart: rapid heart rate, low blood pressure
- Lungs: difficulty breathing, rapid breathing
- Kidney failure
- Digestive: nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain
If you or someone with you ingested wintergreen essential oil and/or is experiencing any of these symptoms, call 911 or Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.
How to Use:
Now that you have been adequately warned, I hope you are intimidated but not scared out of using this very potent oil! As a mom of little kids and currently still nursing my youngest, there is not much I can use it for. But it is seriously one of my all-time favorite scents! SO the one thing I can do is I can put a drop of it on a cotton ball and leave it on the top shelf in my closet. That way it freshens up my closet smell! You can also do this and put it in your gym bag or other area you want to smell wintergreen or mask unpleasant odors. Other uses:
- Diffuse it! As long as no little kids are around! These are oils that pair well with wintergreen: peppermint, bay laurel, lavender, eucalyptus, rosemary, marjoram, spearmint, thyme, oregano, or ylang ylang.
- 2 drops in a warm bath to relax and be rejuvenated!
- Dilute it with a carrier oil (fractionated coconut oil is a good option!) and use it topically – a little goes a long way:
- for acute pain relief
- to relieve muscle tension
- joint inflammation, stiffness and pain
- rheumatoid arthritis
- chronic lower back pain
And one last bit of caution that applies to ALL essential oils. Always avoid contact with eyes, inner ear, up the nose, and other sensitive areas. List essential oil usage in your current medications when visiting the doctor, just like you would list vitamins or other supplements. NEVER allow children to eat or put any essential oils in their mouth. Keep out of reach of children!