I Just Used Wintergreen On A Client …..

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I Just Used Wintergreen On A Client …..

Wintergreen - be cautious!

Wintergreen – be cautious!


Well it’s nothing new I often used wintergreen on clients. A couple of drops at the most. I’m an aromatherapist and I am trained, however it wasn’t an oil I learnt about at college. A couple of text books I have, say we mustn’t use wintergreeen, as it’s too strong and potentially toxic. I say to you, follow this advice, as in everyday life there are other oils you can use that don’t have the potency, and that are more tried and tested.

Wintergreen, Gaultheria procumbens, comes from the family Ericaceae and the genus Gaulteria. The family Ericaceae generally refers to heath or heather and it has (according to Wikipedia), over 120 genera. This family also includes plants such as cranberry, blueberry, huckleberry, azalea, rhododendron. I’m not sure if any other plants in the genus lend themselves to producing essential oils, but I’d love to find out!

“Gaultheria procumbens (eastern teaberry, checkerberry, boxberry, or American wintergreen) is a species of Gaultheria native to northeastern North America from Newfoundland west to southeastern Manitoba, and south to Alabama.[1] It is a member of the Ericaceae (heath family).”


Dwelley, Marilyn J. (1977). Summer & Fall Wildflowers of New England via Wikipedia


Eastern teaberry sounds nice!

Wintergreen - pic via naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com

Wintergreen – pic via naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com

The oil of wintergreen smells like a lot of sports rubs and liniments, very menthol-like. You can understand why it would be used in a product for sore muscles, when you look at the traditional uses of the oil –

Traditionally this oil has been used for –

* joint pain and inflammation

* muscle and tendon pain

* headaches

* bad circulation

and many other issues, that you could take aspirin for – pain and inflammation.

The reason it is thought of as toxic is that it is extremely high in Methyl salicylate, which when absorbed by the body turns into salicylate, basically aspirin. But a very, very high dose of aspirin from a very small amount of wintergreen oil. Check out this article, which states:

“The sudden death of a 17-year-old Staten Island high school track star was caused by the accidental overuse of an over-the-counter remedy routinely used by millions of Americans to treat sore muscles and joints, the New York City medical examiner ruled after a two-month investigation.”


This happened in 2007, and while rare, please take note that just because something says it’s “natural” or has “natural ingredients, doesn’t always mean its safe.

From Kohler's Medizinal Plfanzen a book now in the public domain

From Kohler’s Medizinal Plfanzen a book now in the public domain

So basically it’s a anti-inflammatory, high in aspirin, and can cause people to react with asthma and other aspirin overdose issues.

Use lavender or German chamomile instead.


And FYI my blend was equal parts of lavender, juniper and lemon with a couple of drops of wintergreen. It was stunning. I’m going to text my client now to see how she’s feeling.

Look after yourself people!


copryright SR Banks 2014



2 thoughts on “I Just Used Wintergreen On A Client …..

  1. A very important and thoughtful post. I remember watching the news and the story you mentioned about the New York track star was THE BIG story of the day. Quite alarming…..cannot believe that was 8 years ago already. There are many essential oils – even safe ones, like peppermint, for example, are okay for some people, but not for others ( like me ). Like everything else in life, what may be good for one person, may be harmful or not beneficial for another person.

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