Wintergreen essential oil has become popular for its pain relieving effects. While the evidence on its benefits is limited for now, there are studies that suggest it decreases muscle tension, headaches and the presence of some pathogenic bacteria.
On the other hand, it stands out for its clean, minty aroma which is used as a natural relaxant. However, it is a product that must be applied with caution, as it is contraindicated in some cases. To find out more, please continue reading.
What is wintergreen essential oil and how do you get it?
Wintergreen essential oil is a product that It is obtained from the perennial shrub that bears the scientific name Gaultheria procumbens. belongs to the family Ericaceae and is native to North American countries, such as the United States and Canada. It has a tall trunk, as well as green and white oval leaves, which later turn into edible red berries.
To produce the essential oil, the leaves of the plant are harvested and undergo a fermentation process. Once this is done, the distillation continues to obtain a purer product. In the end, almost entirely methyl salicylate is obtained, which is its active ingredient.
It should be noted that currently production has declined, as synthetic methyl salicylate is created. In fact, the latter appears among the ingredients of several types of oil, including the commercial oil of Wintergreen or the oil of teaberry.
Wintergreen oil composition
As exhibited by a magazine article molecules, Wintergreen oil is a source of bioactive phytochemicals that give it certain benefits. In particular, 80 to 90% corresponds to methyl salicylate, responsible for most of its properties. On the other hand, it contains the following:
- phenolic acids.
- Chlorogenic acids.
Uses of Wintergreen Essential Oil
In natural medicine, wintergreen essential oil It has been used as an adjuvant to treat various types of ailments. However, many of the properties attributed to it come from anecdotal data, i.e. personal testimonies not confirmed by science.
Anyway, some investigations have evaluated its properties and conclude that it has interesting pharmacological effects. What are its main uses and benefits?
Pain and inflammation relief
The main active compound in wintergreen oil, methyl salicylate, has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties which are used to treat pain.
Indeed, how they explain it inside xPharm: the complete reference to pharmacology, is closely associated with aspirin, but it is used topically, due to its irritating effect on the gastrointestinal mucosa.
Specifically, it is an adjuvant against muscle pain, headaches and tendonitis. A randomized controlled trial, Posted in Clinical Therapeutics, determined that applying a patch containing methyl salicylate and menthol was helpful in relieving pain associated with mild muscle tension.
Meanwhile, a case study published in The ECT journal He reported it topical application of methyl salicylate helped relieve the headache in a patient who suffered from severe headache after receiving electroconvulsive therapy. For now, more research is needed to confirm these effects.
In popular culture, wintergreen essential oil is used as an insecticide or repellent. Even now it is found in the commercial presentations of these products.
In this regard, the a study disclosed in Journal of Economic Entomology points out that, compared to other essential oils, this product is more effective as an insecticide than as a repellent.
Evidence on wintergreen oil’s antibacterial effects is limited.. Despite this, a shared search on Frontiers in Medicine reported that a 0.5% concentration of this oil exerted similar, and even greater, antibacterial activity than a control antibiotic against the species Borrelia burgdorferi that cause Lyme disease.
Industrially, this oil has been used as a flavoring agent for products such as toothpastes, mouthwashes, and candies, among others. According to a report by a subcommittee of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), use in low concentrations, alone or in combination with eucalyptus or menthol, is safe.
Risks and contraindications of wintergreen essential oil
The general recommendation is to use wintergreen essential oil with caution.. Methyl salicylate it can be toxicespecially if used in excessive quantities.
Symptoms of poisoning with this substance are as follows:
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Fast breathing (hyperventilation).
- Muscle spasms.
- Ringing in the ears.
- convulsions (severe cases).
- Coma (severe cases).
On the other hand, the composition of this ingredient enhances the effects of anticoagulant drugs. As a result, it can lead to bleeding and associated complications.
Both wintergreen oil and any product with methyl salicylate are contraindicated in the following cases:
- Pregnant or lactating women.
- People taking blood thinners.
- Patients with a bleeding disorder, such as haemophilia.
- Allergic to aspirin.
How do you use wintergreen essential oil?
It should be remembered that this essential oil is only used externally, as it is very strong and irritates the gastric mucosa. For its application on the skin it is necessary to combine it with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, grape seed or jojoba oil.
Second information from the Institute of Aromatic Studies in New York, wintergreen oil should only account for 2 to 3% of the final volume of the preparation. As, it is convenient to add only 10 to 15 drops of the product in every fluid ounce of carrier oil.
What is there to remember about Wintergreen essential oil?
In folk medicine, Wintergreen essential oil is a natural supplement for reducing pain and inflammation. However, its use is not indicated as a first choice approach.
It should be noted that the evidence of its safety and efficacy is still limited; therefore, it should be used with caution, only in specific cases.
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