What is Wintergreen Oil?
Wintergreen is an herb and its oil is extracted from the leaves of the plant. The production involves fermentation of natural material from the plant. It is then distilled to obtain a purer product. The final product is pure methyl salicylate that is an active ingredient of wintergreen oil.
It is produced from two species i.e. Gaultheria procumbens and Gaultheria fragrantissima.
Uses Of Wintergreen Oil
Methyl silicate is an active ingredient in wintergreen oil. It is closely related to aspirin and has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.
The products containing wintergreen oil can be used as a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory.
Wintergreen oil is also used as a flavoring agent in candies, toothpaste, and mouthwash.
Wintergreen oil is also present in insecticides and repellents. Researches show it is more effective as an insecticide than as a repellent.(1)
How To Use Wintergreen Oil?
Wintergreen oil should be used externally and by mixing with a carrier oil. The solution should be made in a way that wintergreen oil makes up only 2-3 percent of the final solution.
Wintergreen oil should not be used for aromatherapy, due to its potential for toxicity.
Benefits Of Wintergreen Essential Oil
The benefits and uses of wintergreen essential oil are based on anecdotal evidence.
Benefits in Pain
Wintergreen essential oil is found effective in relieving pain, but the researches have shown mixed results.
A study found that application of skin patch containing methyl salicylate and menthol, in adults with muscle strain provided a significant amount of pain relief when compared with the placebo patch(3)
Another study found headache relief in individuals who had severe headaches following electroconvulsive therapy(4)
Wintergreen Oil Has An Antibacterial Effect
A study found wintergreen oil to have a similar or higher antibacterial power than a control antibiotic, that is used against persistent forms of borrelia burgdorferi (a causative agent of Lyme disease)(5)
Methyl salicylate is present in over-the-counter prescriptions that control plaque and gingivitis that include mouth rinses, mouthwashes, and sprays.(8)
Wintergreen oil should not be swallowed, as it can prove to be toxic.
Risks of Using Wintergreen Oil
Methyl salicylate, an active ingredient of wintergreen oil can be toxic. Therefore, care should be taken while using wintergreen oil.
Wintergreen oil should not be used for children, pregnant women, people who are taking anticoagulants, those who are allergic to aspirin, and those with bleeding disorders.
Methyl salicylate can be dangerous if consumed in large quantities. A single teaspoon of methyl salicylate is roughly equivalent to 90 aspirin tablets.(9)
Essential oils can have negative effects when applied topically on the skin. It should be mixed with a carrier oil first.
Wintergreen oil benefits are mostly based on personal evidences. More research is needed to assess its health benefits.