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Wintergreen Tel

Wintergreen Tel

Description of the Active Ingredient

Plant oils are mixtures of natural substances that come from various parts of plants, such as

flowers, fruits, and wood. They are responsible for the distinctive odor or flavor of the plant they

come from. As examples, the different oils produced by oranges, lemons, and mustards give these

foods their characteristic smell and taste. See: Table for list

Each of these plant oils is a complex mixture of chemicals that volatilize and enter the air easily.

The exact amounts and kinds of chemicals in the oils determine their characteristic odor. Many of

the volatile chemicals are found in more than one type of oil.

Sometimes the chemicals in the oil, as well as the oil itself, are registered (licensed for use) as

pesticide active ingredients. It is also fairly common for two or more oils to be used in the same

pesticide product.

What Is Wintergreen Oil?

Wintergreen oil is extracted from a shrubby evergreen plant called Gaultheria procumbens, which is from the Ericaceae plant family. Wintergreen is native to North America, mainly in the Northeastern United States and Canada. This low-growing shrub thrives best in rich, organic soils in shady locations, such as on mountains and forests in cool, moist regions.1

Wintergreen is characterized by its long stem, oval and glossy green leaves and white blooms, which turn into handsome and edible bright red berries that birds and other wildlife feast on.2 The leaves are used to make wintergreen essential oil. Wintergreen oil has a sweet and fresh scent, similar to mint. It's very pungent, but not unpleasant. It has a pale yellow or pinkish yellow color.3

Health Benefits of Wintergreen Essential Oil

Let us quickly examine some of the most notable medicinal properties of this highly poisonous, yet very useful, essential oil.

Side Effects & Safety

Wintergreen is safe in the amounts found in foods, and seems safe for most adults when used as a medicine.

The oil is UNSAFE to take by mouth. Taking wintergreen oil or large amounts of wintergreen leaf can cause ringing in the ears, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, stomach pain, and confusion.

Acts as an Analgesic

When rubbed on the affected area, this oil is readily absorbed through the skin and the presence of methyl salicylate induces numbness and an anesthetic effect on the nerves there. It also increases the circulation of the blood and brings warmth to the area.

Growing Wintergreen

Wintergreen makes a lovely, low ground cover for a shady garden of native plants. If you are thinking of using it in place of a conventional turf-grass lawn, be aware that it will not tolerate much foot traffic; however, you won’t have to mow it. Success with wintergreen is most likely if your soil is quite acidic (pH as low as 4.5) and high in organic matter. Seeds are available, but germination is slow. Sow seeds in a mixture of sand and peat and keep the flats or pots in a cold frame until the seedlings emerge.