Wintergreen Essential Oil is typically produced by first soaking wintergreen leaves in warm water. Interestingly, Battaglia and other sources indicate that methyl salicylate is not present in fresh wintergreen leaves.
The leaves and oil are used to make medicine.
Wintergreen leaf is used for painful conditions including headache, nerve pain (particularly sciatica), arthritis, ovarian pain, and menstrual cramps. It is also used for digestion problems including stomachache and gas (flatulence); lung conditions including asthma and pleurisy; pain and swelling (inflammation); fever; and kidney problems.
Some people use small doses of wintergreen oil to increase stomach juices and improve digestion.
Wintergreen leaf is sometimes applied directly to the skin as a wash for achy joints (rheumatism), sore muscles, and lower back pain.
Wintergreen oil is applied to the skin as a “counterirritant” to relieve muscle pain. Counterirritants work by causing irritation that reduces pain and swelling in the underlying tissue. Wintergreen oil is also used to kill germs on the skin.
In manufacturing, wintergreen is used as a flavoring agent in food, candies, teas, and in pharmaceutical products.
How does it work?
Wintergreen leaf contains an aspirin-like chemical that might reduce pain, swelling, and fever.
Wintergreen is safe in the amounts found in foods, and seems safe for most adults when used as a medicine.
The oil is UNSAFE to take by mouth. Taking wintergreen oil or large amounts of wintergreen leaf can cause ringing in the ears, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, stomach pain, and confusion.
When applied directly to the skin, wintergreen oil can cause skin irritation.
Wintergreen is an herb. Wintergreen oil is made by steam processing of warmed, water-soaked wintergreen leaves. The leaves and oil are used to make medicine. Wintergreen leaf is used for painful conditions including headache, nerve pain (particularly sciatica), arthritis, ovarian pain, and menstrual cramps.
SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS & WARNINGS
Children: Wintergreen leaf and oil can be poisonous for children. Taking 4-10 mL of wintergreen oil by mouth can be deadly. Don't even use wintergreen oil on the skin of children less than 2 years old.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Wintergreen is safe in amounts found in food, but there's not enough information to know if it's safe in the larger amounts that are used as medicine. Don't take it by mouth or put it on your skin, if you are pregnant.
If you are breast-feeding, don't take wintergreen by mouth or put it on your skin. Wintergreen products might be toxic to nursing infants.
Stomach and intestinal inflammation: Taking wintergreen by mouth might make these conditions worse.
Salicylate or aspirin allergy, asthma, or nasal polyps: Wintergreen might cause an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to aspirin or other salicylate compounds, or have asthma or nasal polyps. Use wintergreen with caution if you have one of these conditions.
Why is wintergreen oil toxic? Methyl salicylate can be poisonous if large amounts are ingested or absorbed through the skin over time. Methyl salicylate and wintergreen oil can both increase the effects of anticoagulant and blood-thinning drugs.
How much wintergreen oil is safe?
As little as 6 mL (a little over a teaspoon) of the oil taken by mouth can be fatal. When applied to the skin: Wintergreen oil is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to unbroken skin. It can cause skin irritation in some people.
Wintergreen: How they're different. You can always rely on Peppermint to get the job done, but Wintergreen is a breath of fresh air in more ways than one! You may be surprised to learn that these oils aren't related; in fact, wintergreen isn't even a part of the mint family.