Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) Oil from dōTERRA®
Aromatic stimulant, anti-inflammatory and analgesic
Wintergreen oil has a cool, mint-like fragrance that is readily recognized — if not actually identified — by most people today. This is primarily due to the use of its main constituent — usually in a synthetic form — in many muscle pain relievers on the market today.
15 mL bottle.
About wintergreen oil:
Wintergreen oil is distilled from the small leaves of the plant. (While some producers also distill the bark, the best oil comes from the leaves.) It yields an oil that is 97% methyl salicylate.
Methyl salicylate, the main chemical constituent of wintergreen oil, is the chemical foundation for aspirin; however, the synthesized form of salicylate used in aspirin — and other muscle pain relieving products on the market today — present health risks that are not found in wintergreen oil (see discussion below).
Key properties of wintergreen oil
Primary constituents of wintergreen:
- Esters (methyl salicylate 97%)
Some of the therapeutic properties of wintergreen include: analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent and stimulant.
Common uses for wintergreen oil
Wintergreen oil is most commonly applied topically. Traditionally, it has been used for supporting cases of arthritis and other joint/muscular aches and pains. It is excellent in massage, because of its warming effect, to relieve sore muscles, arthritic and rheumatic pain, backache, gout and joint pain. However, it is highly concentrated; so, use it sparingly.
Wintergreen can also be used in skin care, being especially effective in dealing with dermatitis and other skin disorders. It may also be helpful for some respiratory conditions.
Modern research into wintergreen oil
The British Pharmacopoeia lists wintergreen oil as a specific for rheumatoid arthritis.
David M. Ribnicky, Ph.D., of the Biotech Center at Rutgers University, has researched the aspirin-like properties of wintergreen oil. He has found that it presents a much safer option than aspirin, since its therapeutic action offers the desired effect, without the negative side-effects of aspirin.
Other uses for wintergreen oil:
- Wintergreen has been used to staunch bloody wounds, applied to dog bites, snakebites and insect bites.
- Make a poultice with wintergreen oil, and use for boils, swellings, ulcers and old sores.
The link between Methyl salicylate and aspirin
As noted above, methyl salicylate, an ester compound that makes up about 97% of wintergreen's chemical profile, is the chemical foundation for aspirin. However, the salicylate used in aspirin was originally extracted from white willow bark, following the historical records of Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine. It must also be noted that aspirin — and the salicylate compounds used in most commercial muscle pain relieving products — is a synthetic chemical compound, and poses significant health risks.
Before enteric coating and low-dose aspirin treatment, more Americans died each year from sudden gastric bleeding than died from the heart attacks the aspirin was recommended to prevent. Other side-effects from aspirin include liver and kidney damage and cancer.
A short history of aspirin
Based upon the record left by Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, scientists searched for the ingredient in white willow bark that had the desired therapeutic effect. In 1826, salicylic acid was first identified and extracted. However, in its pure state, it was tough on stomachs.
To resolve this problem, a means of "buffering" the compound had to be found. The first person to do so was a French chemist named Charles Frederic Gerhardt. In 1853, Gerhardt neutralized salicylic acid by buffering it with sodium (sodium salicylate) and acetyl chloride, creating acetylsalicylic acid. Gerhardt's product worked, but he had no desire to market it and abandoned his discovery.
In 1899, a German chemist named Felix Hoffmann, who worked for a German company called Bayer, rediscovered Gerhardt's formula. Felix Hoffmann made some of the formula and gave it to his father, who was suffering from the pain of arthritis. With good results, Felix Hoffmann then convinced Bayer to market the new wonder drug.
Aspirin was patented on February 27, 1900.