Wintergreen essential oil is known for its very pronounced odor but above all for its remarkable effectiveness. Composed of more than 95% methyl salicylate (a molecule from the same family as aspirin), with powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, this essential oil is the oil of athletes: it immediately relieves aches, tendinitis and other pains joints and muscles. Latin name: Gaultheria fragrantissima Wall. or Gaultheria procumbens L. Distilled part: leaves

This article was updated on 04/01/2024

Precautions for use

Only one route of administration is recommended: dermal. This essential oil nonetheless remains irritating for sensitive skin. The essential oil of Wintergreen (or Wintergreen), or Couchée, is only authorized for adults and adolescents. Pregnant women can use it in dilution only and on medical prescription. Please note, people with epilepsy should seek medical advice before using this essential oil. 

Authorized users

Adults and Teenagers Adults and Teenagers
Children under 6 years old Children under 6 years old
Pregnant & breastfeeding women Pregnant & breastfeeding women
Babies under 3 years old Babies under 3 years old

Possible ways of use

Inhaled Inhaled
Dermal Dermal
Oral route Oral route
In broadcast In broadcast

Risks of use

Irritating to the skin Irritating to the skin

Other precautions

Skin application

Wintergreen essential oil is irritating to the skin, so in most cases it must be diluted in a vegetable oil before any skin application:

  • 20 to 50% for occasional use on a localized surface 
  • 10 to 20% for prolonged use on a localized surface 
  • 5 to 10% for prolonged use or over a large surface, and for children between 6 and 12 years old.
Ingestion

The use of this essential oil orally should be done on the advice of a therapist.

Contraindications

The essential oil of Wintergreen (or Wintergreen) should not be used in cases of coagulation disorders or anticoagulant treatment, nor of allergy to salicylates (for example, aspirin is from the Salicylates family) .

People with eczema, gastroesophageal reflux, asthma, ulcer, hiatal hernia, hemorrhage, or having to undergo surgery should not use this essential oil.

Allergenic components

Wintergreen essential oil contains very few allergenic biochemical components.

  • limonene (≤ 1%)
  • linalool (≤ 0.1%)
  • geranial (≤ 0.1%)
  • eugenol (≤ 0.1%)

Note: It is preferable to test the essential oil before using it (two drops in the crook of the elbow for at least 24 hours to check that there is no reaction).

Properties of Wintergreen essential oil

Wintergreen essential oil is highly concentrated in methyl salicylate and monoterpene alcohols. These molecules give it the following main properties:

  • anti-inflammatory ++++ (methyl salicylate):

    methyl salicylate, present at more than 95% in wintergreen essential oil, is converted into salicylic acid by the body under the action of cutaneous esterases (enzymes), then reversibly inhibits the synthesis of several pro mediators. -inflammatory, including prostaglandins E2.

  • analgesic ++++ (methyl salicylate):

    wintergreen essential oil reduces the production of pro-inflammatory mediators by the body. However, the presence of these mediators causes a sensation of local pain. Additionally, methyl salicylate activates TRPV-1 receptors, which inhibits the sensation of pain. This is why Wintergreen is a very good local analgesic.

  • vasodilator +++ (methyl salicylate):

    the methyl salicylate present in Wintergreen locally dilates blood vessels, which instantly causes a local heating effect after skin application. This action indirectly confers an antispasmodic action to wintergreen essential oil.

But also these secondary properties:

  • antiprotozoal
  • antispasmodic

In case of Aches, Muscle cramp, Muscle pain

Efficiency: ++++

Simple use

From 12 years old and for adults. Dermal, gently massage the affected area with 1 drop diluted in 9 drops of vegetable oil.

Use in synergy

Reserved for ages 6+. As soon as pain appears, massage locally with 4 to 6 drops of the mixture. Repeat as needed. In case of sensitive skin or prolonged use (no more than 3 weeks), increase the quantity of Arnica oily macerate. :

  • 10 drops of Noble Laurel essential oil
  • 10 drops of Lavandin Super essential oil
  • 10 drops of wintergreen essential oil
  • 100 drops of Arnica oily macerate

More details or other users: essential oils to relieve muscle pain.

 

In case of Gout attack

Efficiency: ++++

Simple use

For adults and adolescents. Dermal, gently massage the affected area with 1 drop diluted in 4 drops of vegetable oil.

Use in synergy

For adults and adolescents. To apply with light massages on painful joints 3 times a day for 5 to 7 days:

  • 5 drops of Wintergreen essential oil,
  • 5 drops of Juniper essential oil,
  • 5 drops of Rosemary Camphor essential oil,
  • 5 drops of Peppermint essential oil,
  • 2 mL of oily macerate of St. John’s Wort

Source : Festy, D. (2022). My essential oils bible. The Duke. 

In case of Lumbago, Back pain

Efficiency: ++++

Simple use

From 12 years old and for adults. Dermal, gently massage with 1 to 2 drops in 8 to 9 drops of vegetable oil on the affected area, depending on its surface. Repeat 3 times a day for up to 3 weeks.

From 6 years old. Dermal, gently massage 15 drops in 9.5 mL of vegetable oil onto the affected area, 3 times a day for up to 3 weeks.

Use in synergy

Reserved for ages 6+. Apply locally 4 to 6 drops of the mixture 3 times a day until noticeable improvement:

  • 30 drops of Wintergreen essential oil
  • 30 drops of Scots Pine essential oil
  • 30 drops of Lemon Eucalyptus essential oil
  • 30 drops of Lavandin Super essential oil
  • 120 drops (6 mL) of St. John’s Wort Oily Macerate

More details or other users: essential oils to relieve lumbago.

In case of Tendonitis

Efficiency: ++++

Simple use

From 12 years old and for adults. Dermal, gently massage with 1 drop in 4 drops of vegetable oil onto the tendon, 3 times a day for a maximum of 3 weeks. 

From 6 years old. Through the skin, gently massage 15 drops in 9.5 mL of vegetable oil onto the tendon, 3 times a day for up to 3 weeks.

Use in synergy

Reserved for ages 6+. Massage locally with 3 to 4 drops of the mixture, 3 times a day for 5 to 7 days:

  • 25 drops of Wintergreen essential oil
  • 25 drops of Lemon Eucalyptus essential oil
  • 10 drops of Vetiver essential oil
  • 10 drops of Cade essential oil
  • 50 drops of Arnica oily macerate

More details or other users: essential oils to fight tendonitis.

In case of' Sprain, strain

Efficiency: +++

Simple use

From 12 years old and for adults. Dermal, gently massage with 5 drops in 5 drops of vegetable oil onto the tendon.

From 6 years old. Through the skin, gently massage with 1 drop in 9 drops of vegetable oil onto the tendon.

Use in synergy

Reserved for ages 6+. Several times a day, gently massage the painful area with a few drops of the following mixture:

  • 30 drops of Lemon Eucalyptus essential oil
  • 30 drops of Clove essential oil
  • 60 drops of Wintergreen essential oil
  • 260 drops of Arnica oily macerate
  • 260 drops of St. John's Wort oily macerate

Source: Zahalka, JP. (2017). Complete dictionary of essential oils. Dolphin.

Fragrant Wintergreen or Italian Helichrysum?

Wintergreen essential oil will be very effective, but if you have some on hand, italian Helichrysum essential oil will be even better! Cutaneously, 3 pure drops on the sprain, after having cooled it with an ice pack, once a day, until the sprain disappears.

In case of Strain, contracture, torticollis

Efficiency: +++

Simple use

From 12 years old and for adults. Dermal, gently massage with 1 drop in 9 drops of vegetable oil on the affected area.

From 6 years old. Dermal, gently massage with 15 drops in 9.5 mL of vegetable oil onto the affected area.

Fragrant Wintergreen or Camphor Rosemary?

Wintergreen essential oil will be very effective, but if you have some on hand, rosemary Camphor essential oil will be even better! Cutaneously, 1 drop in 4 drops of vegetable oil on the affected area, 4 times a day, until improvement.

Use in synergy

Reserved for ages 6+. Gently massage the neck and upper back with 3 to 4 drops of the mixture, 3 times a day, for 5 to 7 days:

  • 30 drops of Lemon Eucalyptus essential oil
  • 20 drops of Rosemary Camphor essential oil
  • 20 drops of Wintergreen essential oil
  • 10 drops of Vetiver essential oil
  • 80 drops of St. John's Wort oily macerate

More details or other users: essential oils to relieve stiff neck.

In case of Neuralgia, Sciatica

Efficiency: +++

Simple use

From 6 years old and for adults. Dermal, gently massage with 1 drop in 9 drops of vegetable oil on the affected area, 3 times a day for up to 3 weeks.

Fragrant Wintergreen or Roman Chamomile?

Wintergreen essential oil will be very effective, but if you have some on hand, roman Chamomile essential oil will be even better! Cutaneously, massage 1 drop for 4 drops of vegetable oil onto the affected area.

Use in synergy

For adults and adolescents. Massage lightly along the nerve path:

  • 5 drops of Wintergreen essential oil,
  • 5 drops of Lemon Eucalyptus essential oil,
  • 5 drops of essential oil of Rosemary, Camphor,
  • 5 drops of Noble Laurel essential oil,
  • 5 drops of Lavandin Super essential oil,
  • 5 drops of Italian Helichrysum essential oil,
  • 2 mL of oily Arnica macerate.

Source: Festy, D. (2022). My essential oils bible. The Duke. 

In case of' Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Rheumatism, Joint pain

Efficiency: +++

Simple use

For adults and adolescents. Dermal, and in case of an inflammatory outbreak, gently massage with 5 drops in 5 drops of vegetable oil on the affected area. Otherwise, use 1 drop in 9 drops of vegetable oil, 3 times a day for up to 3 weeks.

Fragrant Wintergreen or Lemon Eucalyptus?

Wintergreen essential oil is very effective, as is Lemon Eucalyptus essential oil! Cutaneously, 1 drop of Lemon Eucalyptus in 4 drops of vegetable oil, 3 to 4 times a day on the painful area, until improvement.

Use in synergy

Reserved for ages 6+. Repeat 3 times a day until improvement, for 2 to 3 weeks then take a week's break before resuming. Apply 4 to 6 drops of the mixture locally to the painful area:

  • 20 drops of Lemon Eucalyptus essential oil
  • 20 drops of Nutmeg essential oil
  • 20 drops of Wintergreen essential oil
  • 60 drops of Arnica oily macerate

More details or other users: essential oils to relieve osteoarthritis.

In case of Trigger finger

Efficiency: +++

Simple use

For adults and adolescents. Dermal, dilute 1 drop of Wintergreen in 4 drops of vegetable oil (Arnica, St. John's Wort...) and massage the painful finger, up to 4 times a day.

Fragrant Wintergreen or Lemon Eucalyptus?

Wintergreen essential oil is very effective, as is wintergreen essential oil.Lemon Eucalyptus ! Cutaneously, dilute 1 drop of Lemon Eucalyptus in 4 drops of vegetable oil, 3 to 4 times a day on the painful area, until improvement.

Other famous applications of Wintergreen

Wintergreen essential oil is used on many occasions, particularly linked to its anti-inflammatory, spasmolytic and vasodilatory properties. For the majority ofthe following uses it will be effective, but without necessarily being the best essential oil. We therefore indicate to you the best replacement for wintergreen for the following different problems.

Edema, Bruise, Hematoma

Wintergreen effective, but... it is better to use italian Helichrysum essential oil against hematomas, bruises or edema: cutaneously, a few pure drops on the affected area, 5 times a day, until the bruise disappears.

Tachycardia, Hypertension

Wintergreen can act, but... it is better to use complete Ylang-ylang essential oil against hypertension and tachycardias: cutaneously, apply 1 drop of Ylang Ylang to the inside of your wrists, then take deep breaths. To be carried out as soon as you feel the need (medical advice necessary for long-term use).

Headache, Migraine

Wintergreen effective, but... it is better to use peppermint essential oil against migraines and headaches: cutaneously, 2 pure drops massaged onto the temples and forehead, as soon as necessary. (Watch your eyes!)

Painful periods

Wintergreen effective, but... it is better to use tarragon essential oil against painful periods: cutaneously, 1 drop in 4 drops of vegetable oil massaged on the stomach. Repeat every hour until improvement.

How to recognize a good Wintergreen essential oil?

Botanical characteristics
  • Latin Name: Gaultheria fragrantissima Wall. or Gaultheria procumbens L.
  • Botanical family: Ericaceae
  • Part used: leaves
  • Country of origin: China, Nepal.
  • Other name: Wintergreen
Physical characteristics
  • Density at 20°C: 1,175 to 1,190
  • Refractive index at 20°C: 1,530 to 1,550
  • Rotary power at 20°C: -2 to 1
  • Flash point: 94
Organoleptic characteristics
  • Appearance: liquid
  • Color: pale yellow to red
  • Odor: sweet, phenolic, medicinal.
Biochemical characteristics
  • methyl salicylate: 95 to 99.99%

Odorous Wintergreen and Laying Wintergreen: what is the difference?

Wintergreen and Wintergreen contain mainly one and the same molecule: methyl salicylate, present around 99%. With such a composition, the two essential oils therefore have similar properties, precautions for use and uses. Their difference lies mainly in their origin, but also their species: 

  • odorant Wintergreen, also called Wintergeen and Latin name Gaultheria fragrantissima Wall. comes from Nepal,
  • wintergreen Couchée, Latin name Gaultheria procumbens L. generally comes from China.

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Bibliography

Publication: Joshi, S., & Subedi, P. (2014). Phytochemical and Biological Studies on Essential Oil and Leaf Extracts of Gaultheria fragrantissima Wall. Nepal Journal Of Science And Technology, 14(2), 59-64. doi:10.3126/njst.v14i2.10416

Publication: Liu, W., Qiao, W., Liu, Z., Wang, X., Jiang, R., & Li, S. et al. (2013). Gaultheria: Phytochemical and Pharmacological Characteristics. Molecules, 18(10), 12071-12108. doi:10.3390/molecules181012071

Publication: Michel, P., Dobrowolska, A., Kicel, A., Owczarek, A., Bazylko, A., & Granica, S. et al. (2014). Polyphenolic Profile, Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Eastern Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens L.) Leaf Extracts. Molecules, 19(12), 20498-20520. doi:10.3390/molecules191220498

Publication: Pandey, B., Thapa, R., & Upreti, A. (2017). Chemical composition, antioxidant and antibacterial activities of essential oil and methanol extract of Artemisia vulgaris and Gaultheria fragrantissima collected from Nepal. Asian Pacific Journal Of Tropical Medicine, 10(10), 952-959. doi: 10.1016/j.apjtm.2017.09.005

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Publication: Lobstein, A., & Couic-Marinier, F. (2017a). Wintergreen essential oil. Pharmaceutical News, 56(563), 57-60. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actpha.2016.11.032

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Work : de la Charie, T. (2019). Treat yourself with essential oils. Why and how does it work? Editions du Rocher.

Work : Baudoux, D. (2008). Aromatherapy: treating yourself with essential oils. Amyris Editions.

Work : Zahalka, J. (2017). Complete Aromatherapy Dictionary. Editions du Dauphin.

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Work : Festy, D. (2018). My bible of essential oils: Complete guide to aromatherapy. Leduc.s éditions.

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About these tips

This aromatherapy article was written by Théophane de la Charie, author of the book “Treat yourself with essential oils”, accompanied by a multidisciplinary team made up of pharmacists, biochemists and agronomists. 

La Compagnie des Sens and its teams do not encourage self-medication. The information and advice provided comes from a reference bibliographic database (books, scientific publications, etc.). They are given for information purposes, or to suggest avenues for reflection: they should in no case replace a diagnosis, consultation or medical follow-up, and cannot engage the liability of the Compagnie des Sens.