Wintergreen oil is a beneficial essential oil extracted from the leaves of the evergreen plant of Gaultheria procumbens. When soaked in hot water, beneficial enzymes in wintergreen leaves called methyl salicylates are released, which are then concentrated into an easy-to-use extract formula by steam distillation.
Wintergreen leaves themselves are actually odorless and tasteless, but after a compound called gaultherin in the leaves is enzymatically hydrolyzed to methyl salicylate, the characteristic “minty” aroma develops. Because wintergreen oil has a naturally sweet, fresh scent and smell, very similar to peppermint oil, it has a wide variety of uses in foods, teas, aromatherapy, household, and beauty products.
Also sometimes referred to as Eastern Tea Tree Oil, Checkerboard Oil, or Gaultheria Oil, wintergreen has been used for centuries by tribes native to North America to help heal fatigue, lungs, sinuses, and respiratory ailments. Wintergreen oil is naturally an antioxidant, energizer, and immune system booster as it reduces inflammation and reduces pain.
12 benefits and uses of wintergreen oil
1. Muscle pain relief
Have you ever tried an analgesic muscle massage that smelled like menthol or mint? There is a good chance that the product will include peppermint or wintergreen oils because both are considered “counter-irritants”. Wintergreen oil helps reduce the swelling and irritation that occurs around painful muscles, tissues, and joints. Several drops massaged into the skin are ideal for relieving painful joints from arthritis or rheumatism. It is also useful for treating sore muscles and chronic neck pain, as well as relieving lower back pain.
2. Treatment of colds and flu
Wintergreen leaves contain an aspirin-like chemical that can help reduce pain, congestion, swelling, and fever associated with common illnesses. To open your nasal passages and breathe more deeply, mix wintergreen and coconut oil together, then rub them into your chest and upper back like a store-bought steam rub.
Other beneficial oils to include in this blend in order to treat or prevent a cold or flu are eucalyptus, peppermint, and bergamot oils.
3. Antibacterial and antiviral
Since it helps fight bacterial growth, viruses, and fungi, use wintergreen around your home or on your body to flush out dangerous contaminants. You can run it through your dishwasher or washing machine to kill odor-causing bacteria and mold, or scrub it into your showers and toilet bowls.
4. Digestive relief
Wintergreen oil can be used in small doses to increase stomach acid and juices that help improve digestion. It is considered a natural mild diuretic and increases urine production, which can help cleanse the digestive tract and reduce bloating. It also has anti-nausea benefits and calming effects on the stomach lining and colon due to its ability to reduce muscle spasms, making it a natural remedy for nausea. You can rub a mixture of homemade wintergreen oil on your abdomen, stomach, and lower back to improve blood circulation and prevent cramps or pain.
5. Skin and hair treatment
As a natural astringent and antiseptic, when applied directly to the skin with a carrier oil, wintergreen is able to fight inflammation from blemishes and skin disorders. It is also useful in removing acne because it can be used to kill germs on the skin. You can add one to two drops to your normal facial cleanser or mix it with coconut or jojoba oil to nourish the itchy, red, swollen skin. In the shower, use wintergreen oil on your scalp or hair to remove bacteria, fat, and dandruff while adding a fresh scent – similar to the benefits of coconut oil for hair.
6. Energizer and fatigue fighter
Records show that Native Americans used wintergreen leaves to increase stamina, alertness, and endurance during exercise, as it can help increase breathing capacity and treat pain, mucus buildup or inflammation. Try inhaling wintergreen and peppermint oil before workouts to increase focus and arousal.
You can also dab it with a carrier oil on your neck, chest, and wrists to combat symptoms of drowsiness or to help overcome chronic fatigue syndrome. And for recovery after a workout, diffusing wintergreen oil with a diffuser or spray can help open the nasal and respiratory passages; improve blood circulation; or relieve the pain associated with muscle, joint or skeletal tension.
7. Soothing bath
To relax and relieve muscle tension, applying pure winter frost oil mixed with lavender oil in a hot bath or ice bath serves as a great muscle relaxer.
Since it works as a natural home deodorant that can help mask foul odors, use wintergreen oil around your home to sensitize the air and surfaces in your bathroom and kitchen. Mix several drops with water in a spray bottle and apply to hard surfaces, appliances, trash cans, and even your toilet bowls.
You can also diffuse wintergreen oil using a diffuser to fill bathrooms with a fresh, minty scent or add several drops to homemade laundry soap for its deodorant effects.
9. Reducer of hunger and cravings
The taste and smell of mint can help reduce cravings and signify fullness, which is why many people find it comforting to chew peppermint gum after a meal or between meals. If you feel afternoon cravings on the way or tend to overeat, try sniffing some wintergreen oil or gargling it in your mouth. You can also apply a few drops to your temples, chest, or clothing.
10. Homemade toothpaste
With its ability to kill odor-causing bacteria and mouth irritants, wintergreen oil is a great addition to homemade (or store-bought) toothpaste.
11. Homemade mouthwash
Wintergreen not only helps to naturally freshen your breath but can also protect the gums and teeth from infection and pain. Add one to two drops to the water and gargle in your mouth for 30 to 60 seconds before rinsing.
12. Natural flavor enhancer
In the commercial manufacture of foods and beverages, wintergreen is used as a natural flavoring agent in certain foods, candies, and mint-flavored teas.