10 Wintergreen Oil Benefits That Prove Its Popularity Today
Wintergreen oil benefits weren’t recently known. According to historical documents, a few aboriginal tribes of North America (the Ojibwe and Mohawk people) found that this herb was highly beneficial in easing breathing difficulties, respiratory ailments, weakness, exhaustion, and inflammation. (1)
It is also known as the oil of wintergreen, and has been used for centuries now. It is widely used as a key ingredient in pain balms or the ones that improve blood circulation.
Wintergreen oil is also called “Gaultheria oil.”
So, let’s understand wintergreen essential oil in detail.
What is Wintergreen Oil?
Wintergreen essential oil is extracted from the leaves of Gaultheria procumbens through steam distillation method.
For the extraction of wintergreen essential oil, the aromatic leaves are harvested from May to September, as the essential oil content is at the peak in that time. The leaves are then macerated before subjected to steam distillation.
The plant belongs to the Ericaceae family or the heath family. Cranberry and blueberry are some of the famous species of this family.
The tree of wintergreen is native to North America, Europe, and Nepal.
Wintergreen is a small shrub, which has simple elliptic leaves, bell-shaped flowers, and bright-red berry-like fruits. (2).
Wintergreen is commonly known by various names like Winterberry, Checkerberry, Deer berry, Boxberry, and Eastern teaberry. The leaves of wintergreen have a unique minty aroma by itself.
India, Nepal, and China are the principal producers of Wintergreen essential oil.
Scientific Name of Wintergreen Oil
The botanical name of wintergreen is Gaultheria procumbens/ Gaultheria fragrantissim.
History of Wintergreen Oil
The term “Wintergreen” commonly refers to the plants that remain green during the winter season.
The plant was named as “gaultheria” by the Canadian botanist – Dr Gaultier after he saw the plant in the woodlands of Quebec.
The common name of the wintergreen plant in Quebec translates as “the little tea of woods.”
Both the leaves and berries of wintergreen were used to make teas, and was also called as teaberry. (3)
The people of Ojibwe & Mohawk tribes chewed wintergreen leaves to reduce fever and prevent infections. They even used its leaves to make poultices, which was further used to reduce soreness, irritation, and pain.
Wintergreen has been used and valued as a medicinal plant for centuries. The ancient people brewed the leaves to make a pain-relieving tea. The leaves have also been used for analgesic purposes and to relieve cold symptoms.
Native Americans used to cook the berries of Wintergreen or eat them raw. They also used to make tea from the herb for relieving pain and freshen breath.
European settlers learned about Wintergreen from the Native Americans.
People used Wintergreen tea as an alternative to imported tea during the American Revolution.
Wintergreen oil was a part of cosmetics, candies, book-binding, leather making, toothpaste, mouthwash, and chewing gum. However, the active ingredient of wintergreen is now replaced with the flavor ingredients derived from birch.
Color, Consistency, and Smell of Wintergreen Oil
- The color of wintergreen oil is clear to pale yellow.
- The consistency of wintergreen oil is thin.
- The smell of wintergreen oil is fresh, crisp, sweet, minty, and slightly woody.
Properties of Wintergreen Essential Oil
The therapeutic properties of Wintergreen essential oil include: (4)
- Analgesic – Reduces pain
- Antibacterial – Prevents bacterial growth
- Antifungal – Prevents fungal growth
- Anti-infectious – Impedes infections
- Anti-inflammatory – Reduces inflammation
- Antimicrobial – Stops microorganism growth
- Antioxidant – Impedes oxidation process
- Antiphlogistic – Acts against inflammation & fever
- Antirheumatic – Heals rheumatic conditions
- Antiseptic – Fights against germs
- Antispasmodic – Prevents spasms and contractions
- Astringent – Tightens the tissues
- Balsamic – Soothes cough and sore throat
- Circulatory – Enhances blood flow
- Cytophylactic – Promotes cell turnover and heals faster
- Decongestant – Reduces mucus congestion
- Digestive – Facilitates healthy digestion
- Disinfectant – Kills microbes
- Diuretic – Removes excess water from the body
- Expectorant – Removes mucus from the body
- Febrifuge – Effective antifebrile (or antifever) agent
- Hepatic – Maintains a healthy liver
- Hypertensive – Raises blood pressure
- Mucolytic – Breaks down mucus
- Nervine – Treats nervous disorders
- Pectoral – Heals chest & respiratory issues
- Spasmolytic – Eases smooth muscle spasm
- Stimulant – Boosts the overall function of the body
- Stomachic – Great digestive aid
- Thermogenic – Stimulates heat production
Chemical Compounds in Wintergreen Oil
The chemical composition of wintergreen is 98% methyl salicylate.
But trace amounts of other chemicals may also be found, which include a-pinene, myrcene, delta-3-carene, limonene, and delta-cadinene. (5)
Health Benefits of Wintergreen Oil
- Relieves muscle pain
- Soothes menstrual cramps
- Treats arthritis
- Prevents infections
- Heals skin problems
- Natural air freshener
- Promotes oral hygiene
- Improves digestion
- Treats cold and flu
- Boosts energy
Though wintergreen oil benefits are numerous, the most prominent ones proved by various research papers include:
1. Relieves muscle pain
Wintergreen oil is an incredible source of methyl salicylate, which is an excellent analgesic by itself.
The tea of wintergreen leaves has been used for ages to relieve muscle pain. Studies have shown that wintergreen oil reduces pain and soothes the irritation of muscles.
You can also use the oil for treating muscle injury, sore muscles, back pain, and more. The oil improves blood circulation. (6)
However, we suggest you use wintergreen oil twice in a week. Dilute 1 drop of wintergreen oil and 2 drops of lavender oil in 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Rub the diluted oil in the painful region and massage gently.
2. Soothes menstrual cramps
Menstrual cramps can often be painful and create discomfort. Wintergreen oil, being a natural analgesic, helps to soothe pain during menstruation. It takes care of digestion too.
While the compound methyl salicylate in it helps in increasing blood circulation, its aromatic compounds help you to get rid of tiredness. (7)
Dilute 1-2 drops of wintergreen oil in 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Start massaging from the lower back, move up, and then to the abdomen. Make sure you massage in a small circular motion in a clockwise direction. This massage also helps you to control your food cravings.
3. Treats arthritis
People have used wintergreen oil to treat various arthritic conditions for centuries. Arthritis is an inflammatory condition of the joints and is usually painful. The pain increases with age. Lifestyle plays an important role in treating this condition. And wintergreen oil acts as an aid.
Topical application of wintergreen oil reduces pain in the joints as well as inflammation. This is mainly due to its anti-inflammatory properties. (8)
Dilute 1-2 drops of wintergreen oil in 2 tablespoons of jojoba oil and gently massage your legs. This promotes blood circulation and keeps you going good.
We do not suggest using wintergreen oil often because too much exposure is not good. A drop of well-diluted oil twice a week would work well if you keep an eye on your lifestyle.
4. Prevents infections
The oil obtained from the wild leaves of wintergreen exhibit amazing antimicrobial and antiseptic properties.
You would have probably found wintergreen oil in various toothpaste and oral mouthwashes as well. Ever wondered why?
Well, studies have shown that the oil has high antimicrobial properties against the microbes that cause common illnesses. (9)
You can use it on yourself topically if you feel some changes in climatic conditions or catch a cold/flu. You can also use it in your laundry and dishwashers. This prevents fungal colonies and bad odor in your kitchen too.
5. Heals skin problems
Wintergreen oil is one of the best essential oils to take care of your skin.
Since wintergreen oil is a natural astringent and antiseptic, applying it on the skin (but diluted with a carrier oil) treats inflammation, acne, and other skin problems as well.
You can also add 1 drop of it in your face wash. The astringent property of the oil keeps your skin tight and soft.
In addition, studies have shown that wintergreen oil exhibits anti-candida property significantly. (10)
You can use the oil in higher dilution to treat candida infections. For improving your skin’s condition, diluting the oil with coconut oil can work wonders.
6. Natural air freshener
Wintergreen oil works as a home deodorizer. Thanks to its strong aromatic compounds. (11)
So, the next time you feel that your house is stinky, try diffusing a few drops of wintergreen oil for a few minutes.
It emits a slightly minty aroma and works the best in the kitchen. You can also diffuse the oil in your bathrooms to shield the smell.
You can mix a drop of wintergreen oil to your cleaning solution. Or add 2 – 3 drops of wintergreen oil in 50 ml of vinegar. Mix the solution well and use it to clean your appliances, sinks, washbasins, toilet bowls, and more.
7. Promotes oral hygiene
Generally, any commercial mouthwash will have a minty aroma and taste. Most of them will have wintergreen as its key ingredient. This is because it helps in maintaining good oral health. Thanks to its antimicrobial and antiseptic properties. (12)
You can even add 1 drop of wintergreen oil to your mouthwash to gargle. However, make sure you do not swallow it.
You can even add 1 drop of wintergreen oil in 2 tablespoons of sesame oil. Gargle your mouth using the diluted oil for 5-7 minutes (or long as you can hold comfortably). Do this on an empty stomach. Make sure you do not swallow the oil. Discard the oil in a secluded place and wash your mouth with lukewarm saltwater.
8. Improves digestion
If you are someone who overeats, binge-eats, or into too much junk foods, then wintergreen oil can come in handy.
When diffused, the aroma of the oil helps to reduce food cravings. Also, abdominal massage using diluted wintergreen oil improves digestion and increases stomach acid.
Make sure you massage the oil in small circular clockwise motions. It also helps in getting rid of flatulence, stomach upset, and other stomach disorders.
9. Treats cold and flu
The aroma of wintergreen oil is an excellent decongestant. (15) Since it is 98% Methyl salicylate, the effects are equivalent to that of aspirin.
So, the next time you have a cold or flu, inhale the aroma of wintergreen oil. You can also dilute 1 drop of wintergreen oil in 1tablespoon of coconut oil and rub it on your chest.
10. Boosts energy
The decongestant property of wintergreen oil helps a lot to boost your energy.
When your nasal cavity is free, it makes your respiration deep. According to Yoga, the deeper you breathe, the stronger you live. Since the oil helps to improve digestion, it makes your gut stronger as well. Inhaling the aroma of wintergreen also improves concentration.
What Blends with Wintergreen Oil?
Wintergreen oil blends the best with:
- Basil oil
- Cedarwood oil
- Chamomile Roman oil
- Clary sage oil
- Eucalyptus Radiata oil
- Frankincense oil
- Geranium oil
- Juniper berry oil
- Lavender oil
- Lemon oil
- Marjoram (sweet) oil
- Peppermint oil
- Plai oil
- Rosalina oil
- Sage (Greek) oil
How To Use Wintergreen Oil?
- Topical Application: Wintergreen essential oil is highly concentrated. Make sure you dilute the oil before using it topically. It is always better to perform a patch test using diluted essential oil before moving forward. Since wintergreen oil is 98% Methyl salicylate, the salicylates can be easily absorbed through the skin. High doses of wintergreen oil can be toxic.
- Aromatherapy: You can diffuse the oil using a diffuser or a vaporizer to reap its benefits.
- Ingestion: Wintergreen oil is UNSAFE FOR INTERNAL USAGE. When used internally, wintergreen oil is highly toxic and results in a variety of complications.
Side Effects of Wintergreen Oil
- Children are often attracted to the aroma of wintergreen. Keep the oil away from the reach of children.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not use wintergreen oil.
- It can cause serious skin burns if used undiluted.
- People with bleeding disorders, chronic liver, or kidney disorders should avoid using the oil.
- Wintergreen oil is similar to aspirin. People who are sensitive or allergic to aspirin should avoid using it.
- Wintergreen oil produces a blood-thinning effect like aspirin.
- Over dosage of oil leads to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, stomach pain, and confusion.
- Over dosage of wintergreen oil is toxic.
- Internal consumption is toxic.