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Gaultheria procumbens

Wintergreen is a small perennial woodland herb native to the forests of the northeastern United States and Canada. It is easy to confuse them with Bearberries - both are members of the heather family with bright red berries and glossy leaves that stay green during the winter. But Wintergreen is instantly recognisable by the characteristic scent of the crushed leaves. The key component of Wintergreen oil is methyl salicylate (96-99%), a highly potent compound with a distinctly medicinal minty-sweet fragrance used in pain medications. Intriguingly, this compound is not present in the plant when left undisturbed. But as soon as there is any damage to the leaves, enzymes go to work, releasing methyl-salicylate as they break down the plant tissues. To get the most methyl salicylate from the leaves, essential oil producers macerate them in warm water prior to distillation.

Native Americans used Wintergreen herb for many medicinal applications. Wintergreen oil produces a cooling sensation similar to menthol and is an ingredient in various pain remedies. The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia once listed it as a specific for rheumatoid arthritis. In the US, Wintergreen is used to flavour chewing gum, toothpaste, mouthwash, root beer and other soft drinks, and as an ingredient in pain-relieving remedies for muscle aches - but it is always used in tiny amounts! The EU has recently banned it as an ingredient of cosmetic products over concerns regarding its blood-thinning properties.

Wintergreen oil is very potent and potentially irritant. It is not recommended for aromatherapy home use, as it may cause allergic reactions. (Avoid if allergic to Aspirin, during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.) External, it is said to be safe, but it can irritate broken skin. Keep away from children and animals.

Wintergreen oil is a powerful protector and purifying agent that must be handled with care! Add to cleansing water or spritzer bottles to banish unwanted energies or to clean ritual tools.

Wintergreen essential oil has a distinctive, sweet-minty aroma with hints of fruitiness. It blends well with Mints, Thyme, Ho-Wood, Niaouli, and Ylang-Ylang. Use in tiny amounts, as it can easily overpower other fragrances.

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