Wintergreen Essential Oil: Contraindications, Properties And Benefits

Wintergreen is a shrub belonging to the Ericaceae family , it comes from Mexico and the northern part of the United States, it grows in humid, sandy or swampy areas.

It is a plant that mainly has diuretic properties, and is used in cases of conditions such as irritation of the urethra, cystitis or prostatitis.

Its habitat is mountainous where it is often protected by other taller trees and shrubs, although it can also grow on desert sand plains.

From the leaves of the wintergreen plant, an oil is extracted that is widely used in natural medicine, as well as in aromatherapy.

What is wintergreen oil?

Wintergreen oil is a by-product that turns out to be very beneficial for health, it is widely used in ointments or ointments to treat rheumatic ailments; It is also used as a component and to flavor dental hygiene products.

Origin of wintergreen oil

Wintergreen comes from North America, where it occurs with a higher proportion in the northeastern United States and Canada, however, its cultivation has now spread to some areas of Asia.

History of wintergreen oil

The wintergreen plant owes its peculiar name to the Canadian doctor and botanist François Gaultier .

During the 18th century, this doctor observed that the Inuit (Eskimos) used this plant since ancient times to relieve pain and fever.

At present, it has been confirmed that the oil from the fresh leaves of the plant has approximately 99% methyl salicylate (flavoring and flavoring agent) , a precursor of salicylic acid and methyl salicylic acid .

In the mid-nineteenth century, the use of wintergreen oil became popular throughout North America to treat rheumatic problems and relieve all kinds of pain, especially bruises, muscle and joint conditions, headaches, respiratory infections and the leaves were chewed to increase resistance and respiratory capacity, facilitating long walks.

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Wintergreen oil characteristics

The wintergreen plant is characterized by having a long stem, oval leaves, bright green and white flowers, which develop into bright red, edible berries.

Wintergreen essential oil is extracted from the leaves of the plant.

It has a sweet and fresh aroma, very similar to mint; spicy, but not unpleasant, pale yellow or pink in color.

Scientific name of wintergreen oil

Gaultheria procumbens is the botanical scientific name that this species possesses, it comes from the generic name “ Gaultheria”, misspelled, described by Pehr Kalm (1748), in honor of Jean Francois Gaultier of Quebec, “procumbes” Latin epithet that means prostrate.

It is commonly known as: wintergreen, eburnea, axocopaque, Canada tea, mostard, ground berry, oriental berry tea, mountain tea, wax cluster, spring wintergreen, partridge berry and American berry tea.

Chemical formula of wintergreen oil

Wintergreen oil is composed primarily of methyl salicylate (85 to 99 percent), which accounts for almost all of this oil’s healing properties.

Contains 3.7 guaiadiene, a-pinene, myrcene, delta 3-carene, limonene and delta-cadinene, it is similar to the essential oil of birch, due to its chemical composition.

How is wintergreen oil extracted?

Wintergreen oil is extracted from the leaves of the plant, through the process of steam distillation, the leaves are macerated in warm water, which stimulates the enzymes to exude the properties, especially methyl salicylate, separate it so that it remains as a result an ester , organic acid and can be mixed with alcohol.

This extraction process is not very difficult, however, care must be taken that the skin does not absorb it because it would cause an allergic reaction, especially if you have a sensitivity to salicylate.

Read the article we have on  Symptoms of spring allergies in children

Active ingredient of wintergreen oil

Contains wintergreen, methyl salicylate, which provides all the healing properties and spring; phenolic acids: salicylic and caffeic acid; Hydroquinone heterosides: arbutoside; cathekic tannins.

These active ingredients are similar to aspirin, which helps relieve fever and pain.

Wintergreen cultivation

Wintergreen should be planted in early spring, in dense soils, the seedlings are established at a distance of 22-26 cm from each other; the root neck should be at ground level or slightly lower; the depth of the well should be between 30-40 cm, with a drain of 12-16 cm.


Irrigation should be abundant, but infrequently (twice a month for 6 liters of water per bush is enough); in case of drought and high heat, it should be watered more often, spraying the leaves, preferably at night and should be with soft or rain water.

Cleaning and trimming

When the soil is loose, it is necessary to remove the weeds or dry that can damage the development of the bush, it must be done with the hands, carefully, so as not to damage the roots.

Before the beginning of spring, it is recommended to trim the growth shoots a little, so that the plant can fully develop; Dry branches should be discarded as needed, cutting them off completely.


The wintergreen plant is characterized by being resistant to diseases and pests; the main thing is to place it on arid soil and avoid over-mold.

Otherwise, the plant will quickly die from rotting or a mismatch of the hydrogen index of the soil, which is its main weakness.

Look here Lavender Plant: Care, Contraindications and Medicinal Uses

Wintergreen oil uses and benefits

What are the benefits for the skin and face?

Wintergreen oil has astringent and antiseptic properties that benefit the skin in terms of:

  • Tones and firms the skin.
  • It acts against blemishes and imperfections on the skin, allowing them to be clarified.
  • It is anti-inflammatory when there are wounds on the skin.
  • It fights acne, due to its antibacterial properties, controls the formation of pimples or blackheads, the product of skin infections caused by microbes.
  • Relieves pain or burning in the skin, product of the formation of acne.

It has many properties for the hair

Among the antibacterial and antiseptic properties, wintergreen oil helps to tone the roots of the hair, prevents hair loss, giving it a healthier appearance.

Relieves itching caused by dandruff, seborrhea, preventing its appearance.

To take advantage of these benefits, add a few drops of this wintergreen oil to your daily shampoo; or when rinsing the hair by adding a few drops to the water to be used. You should avoid contact with the eyes because it can cause stinging.

Wintergreen oil helps in weight loss

The diuretic property of wintergreen oil comes from its stimulating qualities. It stimulates the release of toxins (fat, salt) through the urine, helping to prevent fluid retention, an important action in weight loss.

It also improves digestion, increasing the action of gastric juices for better food processing.

Due to its mint smell, it helps control anxiety and hunger states, reduce cravings and eat after hours.

It is important to note that the use of wintergreen oil for weight loss is complementary.

Wintergreen oil against cancer

In a study published in 1938 in the American Journal of Cancer Research, wintergreen oil has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors.

Likewise, in other investigations carried out in mice by Yale University, they determined that the consumption of wintergreen, in recommended doses, helped to overcome tumor growth, observing progressive changes in the necrotic tissue, pyknotic nuclei and connective tissue of tumors in These animals.

However, it has not been implemented in humans; It is advised that excessive consumption of wintergreen can be dangerous, it should be consulted with a doctor before attempting any treatment.

See our article on  How to Prevent Breast Cancer

Wintergreen oil during pregnancy and lactation

Methyl salicylate is one of the components of wintergreen oil, which provides most of the properties, however, there are no known adverse effects, but its use is not recommended during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

It is known that the components in salicylates represent being teratogenic in sufficient quantity, including methyl salicylate and aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid), so the use of wintergreen oil is not advisable for pregnant women.

How to make homemade wintergreen oil?

The process for the production of wintergreen oil by means of steam distillation, due to its volatile properties (it contains a large amount of alcohol), one must be very cautious when extracting it at home, as well as avoiding contact direct because it can cause irritability or reaction to salicylate.

A home procedure would be: place water to boil in a glass container (you can use aluminum as long as it does not have lead particles because it can contaminate the substance), place another container with the wintergreen leaves, so that the water does not have contact with them, cover and let it boil, lower it to a simmer, this will allow the steam to be enclosed within the container and the oil particles to detach and adhere together with the water, to the lid; after a few minutes lower the heat and place it in the fridge to cool down and in turn allows the oil to condense and it is easier to separate it from the water;drain it in a glass container, when obtaining the desired quantity, keep the container in a cool and sealed place to avoid rays of natural light, and thus the beneficial properties are not lost.

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Cosmetic properties of wintergreen oil

In combination with other essential oils, wintergreen oil can help treat cellulite, an aesthetic problem that, in most cases, affects women.

It is used to make dental hygiene products, such as mouthwashes and toothpastes.

For the production of soaps it is a very successful ingredient, because it provides antiseptic benefits for the skin.

The use of wintergreen oil helps to tone the skin, in addition to acting against acne.

Provides beneficial properties to hair, helping to keep it healthy, free of dandruff, itching and hair irritation.

Wintergreen oil and its medicinal properties

Cold and flu treatment

Wintergreen leaves contain a chemical compound similar to aspirin which helps reduce pain, congestion, fever and swelling associated with common illnesses.

A suitable way to use it to free the nasal passages and thus breathe better, is to combine wintergreen oil and coconut oil, rubbing them on the chest and upper back.

Antibacterial and antiviral

These properties give wintergreen oil action against infections caused by fungi, bacteria, viruses that cause sepsis and helps fight Staphylococcus Aureus bacteria.

However, care must be taken to avoid direct contact with blood, as well as avoid applying to open wounds.

It should not be consumed to treat internal infections, it should only be used topically and combined with a conductive oil (jojoba, coconut or almond), so that the skin absorbs the properties, and penetrates into the tissues and then through the bloodstream, until spread to the affected internal area.

For home care and disinfection, wintergreen oil can be used to keep the environment free of bacteria.

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Anti-rheumatic and anti-arthritic

Rheumatism is a disease manifested by painful inflammation in the muscles and fibrous tissues; and arthritis is the disease that occurs due to inflammation in the joints.

Wintergreen oil has stimulating properties, which make it helpful in treating these two conditions, as follows:

Externally, it easily penetrates through the skin, reaching the muscles and tissues, thus stimulating blood circulation, provides heat to the affected area, and prevents toxins such as uric acid from obstructing blood flow.

Second, when it reaches the bloodstream, it acts as a diuretic, because it stimulates and increases urination; allowing the elimination of toxins (fats, salts, water) through the urine, which has a satisfactory effect on rheumatic diseases.

Digestive Relief

Wintergreen oil can be used in small doses to activate the proper functioning of gastric juices, and thus promote digestion.

As a natural mild diuretic, it increases urine output, which can help cleanse the digestive tract and reduce bloating.

It fights nausea, as well as provides calming effects on the stomach and colon walls, thanks to its ability to reduce muscle spasms.

As a treatment to take advantage of these properties of wintergreen oil, rub a homemade mixture of wintergreen oil on your abdomen and stomach.

Energize and combat fatigue

History shows that Native Americans used wintergreen leaves to increase endurance during exercise, because it promoted respiratory capacity as well as acting against pain and inflammation.

Inhale infusions of wintergreen oil and it favors concentration.

Placing a few drops of oil on the neck, chest and wrists, helps to combat the symptoms of drowsiness or overcome chronic fatigue syndrome.

For recovery after a workout, diffusing wintergreen oil with a vaporizer soothes the airways and nasal passages.

Learn more about Tips for having an Exercise Routine


Obstructed menstruation or amenorrhea, is a problem that many women go through, it is a condition that can cause uterine ulcers and even uterine cancer.

This condition can be treated with the help of wintergreen oil, thanks to its emmenagogue properties, it stimulates blood flow in the pelvic area and uterus, helping it to manifest itself naturally and regulate menstruation.

In addition to this, it eliminates symptoms produced by menstruation such as nausea, fatigue and abdominal pain.

It is recommended to apply topically in the lower abdomen, without ingesting it, or otherwise, in minimal doses.


The relaxing and stimulating effect of wintergreen oil helps reduce spasms in the respiratory, muscular, digestive and nervous systems, as well as providing relief in nasal congestion, chest, respiratory problems, asthma, spasmodic cough, muscle cramps, digestive disorders, spasmodic diarrhea, seizures and various nervous afflictions.

Air freshener

Wintergreen oil, in addition to medicinal and cosmetic uses, can be used as a natural deodorant for the home, because it helps combat unpleasant odors, as well as acting against the bacteria that cause it.

It favors the environment, bathroom and kitchen surfaces, controlling the presence of fungi or bacteria that can affect health and the environment in the home.

Mix several drops of wintergreen oil with water in a spray bottle, apply it on surfaces, appliances, garbage cans and even toilets.

Likewise, wintergreen oil can be diffused with a diffuser, thus keeping the one in the bathroom smelling of fresh mint, or adding several drops to a laundry soap to take advantage of its deodorizing properties.

You may also be interested in Aromatherapy: The Power of Essential Oils

Hunger and cravings reducer

The taste and smell of peppermint that wintergreen oil gives off can help reduce cravings and control anxiety, thanks to its calming effect.

Wintergreen oil in aromatherapy

When wintergreen oil is used in aromatherapy, in a diffuser or vaporizer, it helps to relax and elevate the mood. It has stimulating effects that increase attention, thanks to its strong aroma it can open, influence and raise awareness of the senses, particularly the sensory system.

Wintergreen oil in gastronomy

The use of wintergreen oil in gastronomy is very specific, and in low doses, it is used in the commercial manufacture of food and beverages, as a natural flavoring, for example, in sweets (chewing gum) and mint-flavored teas.

We suggest reading this article about  Peppermint: Contraindications, Side Effects, Benefits and Uses

Contraindications and risks of wintergreen oil

The methyl salicylate in wintergreen oil may cause allergic reactions, such as difficulty breathing, hives, and swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat.

If ingested, it can cause heartburn, mouth sores, reflux, redness, skin rashes, headache.

If you have sensitive skin, and there is direct contact with wintergreen oil, it can cause swelling, redness and burning.

The component of this oil, methyl salicylate is very toxic so it should be used sparingly.

Wintergreen essential oil has anticoagulant properties, so people allergic to salicylate derivatives cannot use it.

It is not recommended for use in women during pregnancy, because it can be teratogenic, or during lactation, as well as in children under six years of age.

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Wintergreen oil toxicity

Although well known for its therapeutic effects, wintergreen is not without its dangers. The potent molecule, methyl salicylate, is structurally similar to aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid).

After ingestion, methyl salicylate is easily metabolized by the body to salicylic acid, this means that the mode of action of wintergreen oil in the body is identical to that of conventional medication aspirin. Therefore, just as aspirin can be toxic, so can wintergreen oil.

In children under 6 years of age, its use is not recommended because it can be toxic, so it is recommended to keep wintergreen oil bottles out of the reach of children.

When administered orally, it has a greater absorption capacity and, in turn, a high level of toxicity; Like topical applications, they are not without risks, due to their chemical nature.

Exceeding the recommended daily dose can lead to a condition called “salicylism”, characterized by symptoms of dizziness, tinnitus, nausea, vomiting, hyperventilation and changes in mental state, with the risk of causing coma or including death.

Some people may turn out to be allergic to aspirin or have a sensitivity to salicylate, so it is best avoided.

Wintergreen oil datasheet

  • Common name : Wintergreen.
  • Botanical name: Gaultheria procumbens.
  • Botanical family: Ericaceae.
  • Origin: Nepal
  • Extraction Method: It must be distilled at low pressure, the temperature must not be high and the process must be slow in order to preserve the maximum of active components of the essential oil.
  • Part of the plant used: Leaves.
  • Biochemical composition: Methyl-Salicylate, Ethyl-Salicylate.
  • Properties: Antispasmodic, digestive, analgesic, antibacterial, antiseptic, emmenagogue, digestive, antiarthritic, antirheumatic, astringent, aromatic.
  • Precautions: May cause irritation if used directly on the skin or mucous membranes. In very high doses it can be neurotoxic. It should not be used in case of pregnancy or lactation. It is not suitable for use in children.
  • Recommended dose: It should not exceed 1% of the preparation.
  • Conservation: Store in a cool and dry place, away from sources of heat and sunlight.

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Kathie Sand always saw the world of beauty as the terrain on which to build her professional career, a goal that was clear to her when she was only 15 years old. Her great concern to expand knowledge led her to settle in Paris where she studied hand in hand with the best beauty professionals and with the most advanced techniques for skin care.

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