Wintergreen, mother nature’s aspirin, is commonly used for its pain relieving benefits. Its an evergreen shrub called Gaultheria procumbens that produces edible bright red berries. The leaves of the shrub has been used by many to help all sorts of pain symptoms like headache, joint pain, fever, and sore throat. You can brew the leaves or extract the oil from the leaves to get a powerful concentrated medicinal effect. The minty aroma of wintergreen is used in a wide range of products from pain relieving ointments to dental care gum and mouthwash.
Wintergreen is 90-98% made up of methyl salicylate and its primary byproduct is salicylic acid. Aspirin, also referred to as NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug), is made up of salicylic acid. If you are allergic to aspirin, wintergreen oil is not for you. Many reports that it has analgesic, anti-rheumatic, anti-arthritic, anti-spasmodic, antiseptic, astringent, and stimulant properties.
Diluted wintergreen oil in a safe carrier oil, like coconut or jojoba oil, can be used over the skin or in a vaporizer. It is a plant that promotes circulation. The analgesic effect impacts local sensory nerves makes the applied area feel numb and warm. Apply it to any aching region will help improve on “stagnant” circulation area which any rheumatoid, osteoarthritic, or overused joint/muscles will find comfort in. It eliminates the buildup of toxins like uric acid which is helpful in gout. The diuretic effect of wintergreen helps to eliminate the “toxins” within our body through our urine. Wintergreen oil can penetrate further in your body, where it provides more health benefits.
In my article “How to Build A Superhuman (The ReVITALize Way)” I hinted at how our internal organs need to be “healthy” and absent from any dysfunction for optimal living and aging. Any complaint from indigestion/upset stomach, menstruation irregularity and pain, bloating, constipation, fatigue/low energy, or needing to urinate frequently are signs of visceral dysfunction. You may not be diagnosed with anything (pathological/”diseased” state), but an underlying organ issue (medically referred to as sub-clinical) maybe due to a lack of circulation or stagnated Qi. I believe abdominal surgeries like gall bladder or appendix results in scar tissue that slows down circulation to our gut, decreasing our ability to digest and weakening our immune system. Wintergreen oil can be a vital aide in addressing mild organ issues. The stimulant property of wintergreen helps to promote our gut to produce healthy enzymes, hormones and discharges. I believe wintergreen ability to boost circulation “unlocks” the gut and organ’s ability to function the way it is intended. Apply it topically to the stomach region for “gas” issues, promote menstruation, or urination. Apply it near lymph nodes for an immune boosting effect.
The aroma can be characterized as refreshing and uplifting. It helps to boost our respiratory system. The Native Americans used the leaves to help with upper respiratory infections and boosting their lungs to run longer distances. Wintergreen reduces spasm, which is helpful for a wide range of conditions from asthma to digestive cramps. The mood enhancing benefit helps to relax muscle tension from stress and pain. If you love the smell of your wintergreen gum and mouthwash, you can use wintergreen diluted oil to make a “minty fresh” house cleaning spray since it has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
Wintergreen oil is an astringent that can be helpful for “stagnant” skin or scalp issues. This includes eczema, psoriasis, acne, or dandruffs.
When choosing a wintergreen oil choose a product made with pure, natural wintergreen oil. Many manufacturers use synthetics instead of natural methyl salicylate for their wintergreen oil. Methyl salicylate is extremely toxic and can cause liver and kidney damage when ingested by mouth. To test if you are sensitive to wintergreen (diluted) oil, apply to a small area to your wrist first. I am a believer of “nothing in extreme” so even if wintergreen oil is a “miracle” oil for you, use it sparingly to avoid maladaption and long term liver/kidney toxicity seen with aspirin.
Toxicity of wintergreen oil (as referenced from wikipedia)
Thirty ml (about 1 fl oz) of oil of wintergreen is equivalent to 55.7 g of aspirin, or about 171 adult aspirin tablets (US).
photo credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0b/FountainSpringsWintergreen.png
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