Hi and welcome to my letter W post in the #AtoZChallenge with my theme of aromatherapy. Today, I will be writing on an oil I don’t own, but which has fascinated me for a while: wintergreen.
When I first looked into essential oils, I saw that wintergreen essential oil is commonly sold. However, at the time, I thought it was a hazardous oil because, back then, AromaWeb had it on its list of oils you should avoid. I wondered why then it was being sold.
Indeed, wintergreen’s main component, Methyl Salicylate (which makes up at least 98% of the essential oil), is toxic with as little as four milliliters being potentially deadly. AromaWeb still advises caution when using this oil. The author also advises buying from a reputable supplier, as some vendors market synthetic Methyl salicylate as wintergreen essential oil.
Wintergreen essential oil is derived from the leaves of the Gaultheria procumbens, an evergreen shrub. The leaves are first soaked in warm water and then the oil is extracted through steam distillation. Fresh wintergreen leaves do not contain Methyl salicylate. Rather, the chemical is formed during the process of soaking the leaves.
Wintergreen’s aroma is crisp, fresh, woody and sweet. Wintergreen’s smell is similar to that of mint essential oils. For this reason, many people think that wintergreen belongs to the mint family. It doesn’t.
Like birch oil, wintergreen essential oil is used as a potent pain reliever and anti-inflammatory oil. However, it also has blood thinning properties, so should not be used if you already take blood thinners or have a bleeding disorder. The oil also stimulates the liver, resulting in possible drug interactions. I would advise against using wintergreen essential oil at all if you take any medication. Wintergreen is not safe when you are pregnant or breastfeeding. It also should not be used on children or around pets.