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Wintergreen is a small indigenous creeping, evergreen shrub, that grows about 5 to 6 inches high. Common in sandy coastal regions and woodlands of eastern North America from Georgia to Newfoundland. Other names of Wintergreen include Boxberry, Canada Tea, Eheckerberry, Deerberry, Ground Berry, Mountain Tea, Spice Berry, Teaberry and Wax Cluster.
The Wintergreen plant contains about 100 species worldwide, mostly in the Andes and five varieties are native to Canada. It is a member of the heath, or Ericaceae, family which includes Kalmias and Rhododendrons. The term “Wintergreen” once commonly referred to plants that remain green throughout the winter and now the term “evergreen” is more commonly used.
Wintergreen berries and leaves were used medicinally by Native Americans before the essential oil was made. Brewed as a tea to alleviate rheumatic symptoms, headache, fever, sore throat, and muscular aches and pains. The active ingredient of Wintergreen is called methyl salicylate, which is often synthesized and sold as fragrant oil. Wintergreen is often used as a flavouring for candies, chewing gum, mouthwash, toothpaste and smokeless tobacco such as dipping tobacco. Wintergreen was one of the components of the original root beer made mostly of roots by a pharmacist in 1875.
Wintergreen has been used for its warming and relaxing properties to that ease muscles after a post-workout massage. The smell of Wintergreen essential oil has been used to promote an uplifting and stimulating effect on the mind. Wintergreen essential oil has a strong and pleasant scent smell that will may cover unpleasant odours. Wintergreen has anti bacterial properties that have been used as a spray to clean the home or yoga mats. Wintergreen is used as natural pain killers for headaches, menstrual cramps and joint and muscular pain. Wintergreen has been is used to relieve nasal and respiratory congestion.
For congestion combine Wintergreen with Spearmint, Thyme and Peppermint and mix into a carrier oil to apply to sinuses and lungs or put a few drops in hot water and inhale.
For dandruff combine Wintergreen with Bergamot and Tea Tree and apply to scalp in a carrier oil, add a few drops to an unscented shampoo or make into a spray to spray scalp.
Cautions & contraindications:
Keep away from children. Avoid eye area and mucous membranes. Keep away from open flame. Wintergreen leaf and oil can be poisonous for children. Don’t even use wintergreen oil on the skin of children less than 2 years old. External use only. Do not use undiluted. Avoid eye area and if epileptic or pregnant. Information provided does not substitute for professional advice and care.