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Wintergreen

Natural health supplements sometimes have unexpected side effects or interactions with medication that can lead to adverse reactions that are sometimes life threatening. The following is a list of cautions that you should be aware of before using Wintergreen (Gaultheria). These are referred to as drug/herb interactions.

Caution 1 - Contraindications: Asthma, salicylate allergy, or GI irritation.

Caution 2 - Anticoagulants: Wintergreen increases the risk of bleeding when used concurrently with anticoagulants. Experts recommend avoiding using Wintergreen if you are taking anticoagulants.

Caution 3 - Salicylate sensitivity: Wintergreen oil contains methyl salicylate, which may produce allergy-like symptoms or asthma.

Used as a natural health remedy: Wintergreen berries are used medicinally. Native Americans used wintergreen leaves to brew tea for the following:
  • Rheumatism
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Various aches and pains
Historically wintergreen leaves were used as a substitute for tea during the American Revolution. Of course that was after the Boston Tea Party, which helped make tea scarce for awhile.

The most common modern uses of wintergreen is for flavoring in chewing gum, mints, candies, mouthwash, toothpaste, and smokeless tobacco such as dipping tobacco (American "dip" snuff) and snus.

Wintergreen oil is used topically (diluted) and in aromatherapy (full strength) for the following:
  • Arthritis (See other herbs for inflammation)
  • Broken or bruised bones
  • Cellulite
  • Cramps
  • Eczema
  • Edema
  • Gout
  • Hair care
  • Headache
  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Inflammation
  • Joint discomfort
  • Muscle pain
  • Obesity
  • Poor circulation
  • Psoriasis
  • Rheumatism
  • Tendentious
  • Ulcers
One fluid ounce of wintergreen oil is equivalent to 55.7 grams of aspirin. That's equal to about 171 adult aspirin tablets. This should give you an idea of the potency and potential toxicity of wintergreen oil even in small quantities. Concentrated Wintergreen oil is toxic and should be restricted to aromatherapy.

Side Effects of Wintergreen oil

The known side effects of Wintergreen oil include:
  1. Confusion
  2. Diarrhea
  3. Nausea
  4. Headache
  5. Stomach pain
  6. Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  7. Vomiting
  8. Death (with high intake of oil)
Wintergreen oil is UNSAFE to take by mouth and is a notorious source of severe, often fatal poisonings. In children less than 6 years of age, a teaspoon (5 mL) or less of oil of wintergreen has been implicated in several well-documented deaths.

As with any herb, a serious allergic reaction is possible. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction. These may include a rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, or trouble breathing.

As with any herb, a serious allergic reaction is possible. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction. These may include a rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, or trouble breathing.

Return to the Herb List.

For questions and answers about the side effects of herbs see the Herb Forum




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This consumer advocate website is protected by copyright 2011 Askdocweb, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This is a layman's report on Wintergreen and is not intended to replace discussions with a health care provider. Do not use the information on this forum as a substitute for your doctor's advice. Always consult your doctor before taking any drug and follow your doctor's directions. Source material: Food and Drug Administration, Medline, Physician's Desk Reference, and the largest community of people in the world, those who are concerned about healthcare.
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