Wintergreen oil is a natural product made by steaming and fermenting the leaves of the wintergreen plant. It’s characterised by a sharp, minty smell that’s often used in food flavourings, however its main use is for pain relief.
Wintergreen oil is an active ingredient in many pain relieving liniments and topical ointments.
The primary compound in the natural oil is methyl salicylate, which is closely related to aspirin, and is sometimes used as an effective alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Wintergreen oil shares the same analgesic properties as aspirin to reduce pain, swelling and fever naturally.
Wintergreen Oil: What Are its Benefits?
As an active ingredient in many topical ointments, it is used effectively in the management of issues including:
- Joint pain
- Muscular aches, in particular in the neck, shoulders and lower back which are areas prone to overuse, pain and postural stiffness.
- Oral health. When used as an ingredient in antiseptic mouthwash, wintergreen oil has shown to be effective in preventing tooth decay and gum infections.
- Headaches and fever may also be managed with wintergreen oil due to its analgesic properties.
Some research has shown wintergreen oil is most effective when combined with peppermint oil and other oils.
Wintergreen oil is an ideal and natural alternative to medicinal oral pain relief. Using this ingredient can be particularly beneficial for those prone to issues with bleeding in the stomach, a common side effect in the long-term use of NSIA drugs such as ibuprofen.
How is Wintergreen Oil Used
As an essential oil, wintergreen is particularly strong and should only be used externally.
It is readily available as an over-the-counter pain relieving gel, and can be rubbed directly into unbroken skin. When using wintergreen oil as an ingredient in homemade products it should be used sparingly by adding 1 to 2 drops into a vegetable-based lubricant such as rapeseed or coconut oil.
Applying pain relieving ointments to the skin can cause the active ingredients to become effective more quickly than orally ingested pain relief, as the treatment is applied directly to the source of the pain which delivers medicinal benefits alongside feelings of relief.
Wintergreen works best for pain experienced close to the body’s surface or just below the skin, such as the knuckles or knees. It’s also highly effective for larger muscles prone to stiffness, such as in the lower back or neck.
The oil often has a mild tingling effect similar to mint, which serves as a psychological distraction to move your focus away from the pain. By focusing on the tingling sensation, rather than the pain, the muscles often relax automatically which can speed up the pain relief process.
It can also be effective for relieving headaches when applied to the temples in small amounts.
Using Wintergreen Oil Safely
Synthetic wintergreen oil is readily available, so for best results opt for an organic and natural oil with a high level of purity.
It can can be toxic if ingested, and should not be taken orally. Care should also be taken around interactions with some medications, so you should consult with a physician before using this natural ingredient.
The best way to use wintergreen oil is in small doses, applied directly to the area of concern.