Want to know what wintergreen essential oil is about?
As a teenager, I distinctly remember chewing wintergreen gum almost every day. The flavor was a happy start to my day while walking to school, and was uplifting throughout the day. As an adult, I have used a product called Icy Hot frequently to help soothe my sore muscles after an intense workout, or for a sports injury. You may be wondering what these two products have in common with each other, as they are on two completely different ends of the spectrum. If you guessed that they both contain wintergreen essential oil, you’re right. If you didn’t guess it yet, that’s ok, too.
Wintergreen was, and still is, a staple in Native American medicine. While Wintergreen was mainly used to treat respiratory tract infections, Native Americans also chewed the leaves to increase endurance and respiratory capacity to be able to run longer distances. Tribes such as the Ojibwe and the Mohawks drank wintergreen tea as a medicinal beverage to help with respiratory issues, aches, and pains.
Wintergreen leaves served as a replacement for Chinese tea during the war of Independence. The flavor bears a strong resemblance and had added benefits as a pain tonic. Common folk remedies also call for wintergreen essential oil to treat anything from cold symptoms to to tooth decay!
Wintergreen is native to North America, particularly in the eastern side. It is found all over, from Georgia and Alabama, to Canada. The plant is described as a perennial that grows to be about five to six inches with rich, green leaves and white, drooping flowers, followed by bright red berries. It grows mostly during June and July, so the best time for oil extraction is during the summer. The oil is steam distilled, and is extracted from the leaves of the plant.
Wintergreen is mostly made up of methyl salicylate, a chemical that is tentatively accepted by the FDA as an external analgesic. It is because of this that it is in many over-the-counter products that are intended to relieve muscle and joint pain. Studies are currently being conducted on wintergreen in pain creams, and even dental care.
Wintergreen has a very cool, minty aroma that is described as “cold and sweet”. The aroma is said to have a very relaxing, uplifting effect on one’s mood, making it a great choice for your diffuser. Since the smell is also pleasant by itself, you could simply use it to freshen up the air in your home. The scent can also help open up your senses, giving them a bit of a boost when they need it.
Wintergreen essential oil has many practical uses today. As stated before, it is used in many over-the-counter topical pain relievers. You should not ingest this oil, but rather only use it aromatically and topically. There are other uses for the oil, such as:
Stress Relief: The aroma of wintergreen essential oil is potent, yet it is very soothing. Breathing in the scent of the oil has been said to be uplifting and relaxing for one’s mood. Diffuse a few drops of it in your diffuser to reap the stress-relieving benefits.
Muscle Pain Relief: After an intense workout, wintergreen essential oil can be a godsend. Mix a few drops into a 1ml bottle with a good carrier oil (fractionated coconut or jojoba would be best) and roll onto the affected area. Be sure to rub it in for the most effect.
Skin Care: Make blemishes a thing of the past by incorporating wintergreen essential oil into your daily routine! The sanitizing effects of the oil will help combat the bacteria that cause unsightly pimples and blackheads. Use a roll on with a couple of drops of oil in a 1ml bottle with carrier oil to spot treat a pimple or blemish.
Air and Fabric Freshener: This oil is great to diffuse to liven up the scent of your home, and is great to freshen up dirty smelling bags and fabrics! A couple of drops on a cotton ball placed into a gym back will hide the smell of sweaty clothes and socks!
Wake Up: Wintergreen is known to uplift, and therefore the aroma can be a powerful stimulant. Simply sniff it right out of the bottle for a quick pick-me-up!
Headache Relief: Wintergreen has been shown to relieve tension in muscles and increase blood flow, therefore it is the perfect analgesic for a headache. Mix a few drops with a good carrier oil as mentioned above in a 1ml roller, and massage into temples for relief.
Dandruff: Wintergreen is great for your hair! If you suffer from dandruff and/or hair loss, using a wintergreen rinse can be very beneficial. Wintergreen essential oil can tone the roots of your hair and invigorate your scalp, stopping hair loss and wiping out dandruff! In a spray bottle, mix equal parts water and apple cider vinegar with five to ten drops of wintergreen essential oil. Spray on and rinse to have hair that is squeaky clean!
Menstrual Relief: As an emenagogue, wintergreen may help ease cramps associated with a woman’s menstrual cycle. It may also help to regulate a woman’s cycle. Apply topically diluted in a carrier oil around the affected area and rub in for maximum effect.
Antirheumatic: Wintergreen increases blood flow and relieves tension, making it ideal for arthritis treatment. Those who suffer from arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis may benefit from topical applications of wintergreen essential oil, diluted in a good carrier oil of course.
Antispasmodic: Wintergreen essential oil is great for treating spasms of the muscles, respiratory and nervous systems, and digestive issues.
Anti-infection: Wintergreen is fatal to most bacteria and microbes, including staph. As it is highly toxic, wintergreen essential oil should never be ingested orally, and never applied to open wounds. You may safely apply it topically diluted in a carrier oil so that it may absorb into the skin and therefore the bloodstream.
Diuretic: Wintergreen essential oil has been shown to remove excess salt, fat, and water from the body by promoting healthy urination.
Astringent: Wintergreen can tighten skin, making it appear younger and brighter. It has also been shown to tone hair roots, reducing or stopping hair loss!
DO NOT INGEST THIS OIL. In high enough levels, this oil can be toxic and should be stored out of the reach of children. Use caution, as this oil should not be used regularly in most cases. If you are pregnant or nursing, avoid using wintergreen essential oil.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and therefore are not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure an illness. Please consult your doctor before starting any treatment regimen.