But have you heard about the way wintergreen can relieve and soothe your pain, and improve your health?
If not, you should know about them – because wintergreen oil uses go so much further than just flavoring your gum!
What is Wintergreen?
That distinctive flavor you love in mints doesn’t come from mint at all. Wintergreen oil is extracted from the wintergreen plant, the American wintergreen or Gaultheria procumbens. The red berries and leaves that stay green all winter gave the plant its obvious, but appropriate, name.
Wintergreen oil is extracted from the leaves via steam distillation. In other words, the leaves are crushed and then steamed, so the oil can be collected. It’s this oil that has so many health benefits, because it’s approximately 98% methyl salicylate – which is the basis for aspirin!
In spite of being best known as a flavoring, wintergreen oil uses are almost entirely topical because pure wintergreen oil is toxic in relatively small amounts. It only takes a trace amount of wintergreen flavoring to give mints and gum their taste.
Which is good, because as little as a teaspoon of pure wintergreen oil can be dangerous. So when considering how to use wintergreen oil, be aware it shouldn’t be added to foods or taken internally.
How Wintergreen Works for Pain Relief and Health
Traditional wintergreen oil uses go back hundreds, if not thousands, of years to Native American medicines –
1. Pain relief. The most common, modern day use of wintergreen oil is as a topical pain reliever. Wintergreen oil has been used to relieve muscle pain, joint pain, and even nerve pain. It acts as a counterirritant, which means its tingle actually distracts your body from the other pain it’s experiencing. Apply wintergreen oil sparingly to achy muscles, or find a topical pain reliever that has wintergreen as an active or inactive ingredient.
2. Increase blood flow. This is the wintergreen oil use that many people find helpful with arthritis pain. By massaging a few drops of wintergreen oil on painful, arthritic joints, you can help increase blood flow to the area. This helps ease arthritis pain in two ways. First, increased blood flow to the joints helps keep the joints healthy and nourished. But secondly, the rush of blood to the area helps warm up the joint, soothing away the pain.
3. Relaxation. Research has proven conclusively that stress is detrimental to your health, so it’s a shame more people don’t know about this wintergreen oil use: helping you destress. Wintergreen oil is often used in aromatherapy blends because it may help relax you and help you get a good night’s sleep. Blend it with mint or vanilla for a particularly peaceful combination.
The Hows of Using Wintergreen Oil
Since the high levels of methyl salicylate make wintergreen dangerous, you do need to take some precaution with your wintergreen oil uses.
First and foremost, don’t ever eat or drink wintergreen oil. Don’t add pure wintergreen oil to any food or beverage, no matter how much you enjoy the taste. It’s just too easy to overdose.
For aromatherapy, oil diffusers are easy to find at just about any home décor store. You’ll find nice oil blends – including wintergreen – in many of the same shops.
When using wintergreen oil for topical pain relief, your best bet is to find a product that already has wintergreen in it. And, of course, be sure to use the product according to the directions on the package.
Some topical pain relievers may have wintergreen in the inactive ingredient section, while others have it in the active ingredients section. Either way, you’re getting the health benefits and pain relief you’re looking for!
Wintergreen gum doesn’t just taste good! There are so many wintergreen oil uses that will help boost your health and support your wellness goals. Now, it’s just a matter of finding the solution that works for you!