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Wintergreen essential oil information

Wintergreen oil is extracted from Gaultheria procumbens of the Ericaceae family and is also known as checkerberry, teaberry and gaultheria.

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Oil properties

Wintergreen oil is toxic and when taken internally can be fatal.

Origin of wintergreen oil

It is a traditional native North American remedy, used for aches and pains and to help breathing while hunting or carrying heavy loads.

It is a small evergreen herb which grows up to 15cm (6 in) high, with slender stems, leathery serrated leaves and drooping white flowers, followed by fleshy scarlet berries.

Menthyl salicylate is the principal constituent of this plant and has been incorporated in liniments and ointments for muscular skeletal problems.

Ingesting menthyl salicylate even in small amounts may result in fatal poisoning.

As a herb, it must not be given to patients sensitive to aspirin (salicylates) and wintergreen oil is toxic in excess and can cause liver and kidney damage.

Extraction

The oil is extracted from the leaves, previously macerated in water by steam distillation.

Chemical composition

The main chemical components of wintergreen oil are menthyl salicylate and gaultherilene.

Precautions

Wintergreen oil should not be used in aromatherapy and if ingested, even a small amount can be fatal.

 

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