The Wonders of Wintergreen

Thanks for tuning in again natural beauties. This week a client and friend brought me a gift from the USA – Wintergreen Life Savers. She had promised she would bring some back to me so I could have a taste – and had been inspired to do this after I used wintergreen in an oil blend for one of her treatments. She said that this lolly was a blast from the past and a loved candy from her childhood.



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As you can see from the comment in my pic above – wintergreen as a flavouring for a candy is very unusual for me (and I would think many Aussies too). To me it’s like eating a sports rub like Deep Heat or Dencorub. It is commonly used as a flavouring in America, but I’m not sure if it’s embraced the same way in other parts of the world. After the initial blast and sensation of the essential oil of wintergreen in my mouth, the fragrance subsided into a general sweetness. Phew.

Some of my classic aromatherapy text books warn against using this oil at all, which seems strange when you can eat it in a lolly )this is however, at an extremely low dosage). Wintergreen is an essential oil of warmth, expansion and healing and can be used in an external oil blend for:

  • sore muscles
  • a chest cough
  • a headache
  • tension
  • poor circulation

I think the reason this oil is misunderstood is that some texts say it is high in the same chemical constituents that are in aspirin – but that’s not quite true. It has a high concentration of methyl salicylate ……

“Methyl salicylate is good for some people, not for others. A blanket contraindication is not necessary, but it is best avoided in pregnancy – all salicylates are teratogenic in sufficient amount, including methyl salicylate and aspirin (acetyl salicylic acid). Methyl salicylate must be absolutely avoided by anyone taking blood-thinning drugs, as it increases the action of the drug, and this causes blood to leak into tissues and  internal bruising occurs.


Wintergreen oil has some wonderful properties, but I would not like to see it used at more than 5%.”


Robert Tisserand


wintergreen - Gaultheria procumbens

wintergreen – Gaultheria procumbens


NB: As Robert Tisserand says above, he would not recommend using this at a higher concentration then 5%. Well 5% is a very high concentration in aromatherapy as mostly our oil blends are a standard 2.5%.

I have used this oil with an elderly client who is on blood thinners and it really helps him with back pain. I don’t use it all the time and when I do make a blend I always add other oils too.

Common sense and intuition must always play a part when you use essential oils. One size does not fit all. 


Here are a few recipes for an oil blend at 2.5%

For a coat of your body use 3 teaspoons of carrier oil in a little dish and, add 7 – 8 drops of essential oil. It’s always best to patch test first, before you apply all over.

***** Always put the drops of essential oil into the bottle or dish first, then add the carrier oil. It gives the scents time to create a synergistic fusion.

For a 50ml bottle of oil add 25 drops and see my articles “Ratios for Blending Essential Oils – A Reminder of the Basics” and “Aromatherapy – It’s Easy as 1 2 3”


Wintergreen with frost - pic via

Wintergreen with frost – pic via


“BRRR I’m Freezing”

Wintergreen     1 drop

Lemon             7 drops



“The Anti Cough”

Wintergreen         2 drops

Marjoram             2 drops

Frankincense     4 drops



“Period Pain-Away”

Wintergreen     2 drops

Lavender         4 drops

Peppermint     1 drop



“Oh My Aching Knees”

Wintergreen     3 drops

Ginger             3ginger drops

Cypress          2 drops


Do you like wintergreen?

Remember to treat yourself first, then everyone will benefit.

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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

Wintergreen – pic via

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