WINTER GREEN : Dangerous and yet so beneficial !
Wintergreen is a tree native to North America and it was they who believed to have discovered the use of its oil to drive away pain in muscles and joints. The botanical name of this shrub is Gaultheria Procumbens. The essential oil of this plant is extracted by steam distillation of its leaves. Menthyl Salicylate and Gaultherilene are the two main components of this essential oil and this Menthyl Salicylate forms an integral part of almost every anti arthritic and anti pain balm (for muscular and joint pain) available in the market.
Let us study in brief the medicinal properties of this highly poisonous yet very useful essential oil :
Analgesic: I don’t think that I need to introduce this property of Wintergreen Essential Oil to you, because it is one of the properties for which is known around the world. When rubbed on the paining spot, this oil is readily absorbed through the skin and the presence of Menthyl Salicylate induces numbness and a sort of anaesthetic effect in the nerves present in that area. It also increases circulation of blood and brings warmth to the place (this warmth can very well be experienced). This way, it fights pain.
Anodyne: This is the property by virtue of which an agent can eliminate pain and induce relaxations. So, it is a combined effect of an analgesic and a relaxant. Hence Wintergreen Essential Oil will eradicate pain and will drive away stress and tension. What a pleasant way of getting a sound sleep at the end of the day for those who cannot sleep due to pain or stress.
Anti Rheumatic & Anti Arthritic: This property of Essential Oil of Wintergreen is based on the stimulating property of this oil. This oil fights rheumatism and arthritis in two ways. First, when applied externally, it easily penetrates through the skin in the muscles and tissues and stimulates circulation of blood there. This, apart from bringing warmth to the affected place, helps clear obstructions in the flow of blood (which is one of the major causes behind rheumatism and arthritis) and it does not let toxins, like uric acid, accumulate at a place. Second, although absorbed through skin, when it reaches blood stream, it stimulates and increases urination and acts as a diuretic. This speeds up removal of toxins like uric acid from the body through urine. The removal of excess water, fats and salts through urine helps lose weight and this too counters rheumatism.
Anti Spasmodic: The relaxing and stimulating effect of this oil fights spasm in the respiratory, muscular, digestive and nervous systems and gives relief from congestion in chest, breathing troubles, asthma, spasmodic coughs, muscular cramps, digestive disorders, spasmodic diarrhoea, convulsions and nervous afflictions.
Anti Septic: The high degree of toxicity of this oil, as it is fatal to human beings, is fatal to the bacteria and other microbes such a virus, fungi and protozoa also. This is utilized to fight infection causing septic. It kills the bacteria named Staphylococcus Aureus and cures septic. But care should be taken to avoid direct contact with blood and it should not be applied on open wounds. Neither should it be taken orally to fight septic in the internal organs. Just applying on the skin will be enough as it will easily penetrate skin, absorbed by the tissues and from there will be absorbed in the blood stream, thus spreading into the internal organs too.
Aromatic: Although it has a pungent aroma, it is not unpleasant. So, in certain cases, it can be used to overcome foul smell. But it is not a regular application of this oil.
Astringent: Well! An astringent, like this Essential Oil of Wintergreen has a lot to offer. It induces contractions in the tissues of muscles, skin, blood vessels and hair roots. This result in contraction of muscles and skin which gives firmness to the muscles and lift to the skin, making you feel better and look younger. When it comes to blood vessels, this contraction helps check haemorrhage from the wounded or cut vessels. The hair roots are also contracted and strengthened by this effect of astringent. I have deliberately not mentioned its effects on gums since it should never be tried to take this orally or wash mouth with this.
Carminative: To have its carminative effects, do never try to take this oil orally, even in very light dilutions. Instead, diluted in water, it can be rubbed on the belly which will eventually make the gases pass out.
Diuretic: This diuretic property of Essential Oil of Wintergreen comes from its stimulating properties. It stimulates the organs in the urinary system and filtration of water by the kidneys, thereby increasing frequency and quantity of urine. This is of great help as it speeds up removal of toxins like uric acid and others and protects from diseases like rheumatism and arthritis and others which are caused due to accumulation of toxins. It also removes excess water, fat and salt from the body, thus helping cure edema, water logging, hypertension etc. and aiding in weight loss. This also keeps kidneys and urinary bladder clear and prevents formation of stones there.
Emenagogue: Obstructed menstruation is a big problem faced by most women, more so in the cities. This should not be taken lightly as it may give rise to very serious problems like uterine ulcers and even uterine cancer. It results in pain in the abdominal region, irritation, annoyance, hair fall, fall in health and feminine problems. This problem can be sorted out with the help of an agent that can clear this obstruction and restart menses. Further, it should also make them regular. Luckily, there are many essential oils which can do this and Essential Oil of Wintergreen is one of them. It opens menstruations and also helps get rid of problems like nausea, fatigue, pain etc. associated with periods. But again, it should not be taken orally.
Stimulant: The Wintergreen Essential Oil is basically a stimulant and it promotes discharge of gastric juices, bile, hormones, enzymes, ovarian and uterine discharges and even urine by stimulating liver, gall bladder, endocrinal glands and uterus. It also stimulates circulation of blood and lymph, digestion, excretion and the nerves.
Other Benefits: It is used to treat snake bites, dog bites, stings of poisonous insects like scorpions, wasps, bees etc. and infected and rotten wounds, sores, ulcers etc. It can also be used to counter obstructed blood circulation resulting from frost and very low temperature, due to its warming effects.
Few Words of Caution: The Essential Oil of Wintergreen is highly dangerous due to presence of Menthyl Salicylate. It should never be ingested. External application is sufficient for making this oil work inside since it readily seeps through the skin and is absorbed by the muscles and tissues. Further, if accidentally ingested, it can cause severe damages to the internal organs like liver, kidneys etc. One more caution. Excessive external application on skin may also turn fatal because of absorption of excessive Menthyl Salicylate in the tissues and consequently in the blood stream. There are examples of death of a sportsman who rubbed too much of relaxing ointments on his thighs which contained Menthyl Salicylate. It should never be given to patients who are hyper-reactive to salicylates.