The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!

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Wintergreen

Scientific Names

Wintergreen

  • Gaultheria procumbens L.
  • Ericaceae
  • Heath family

Common Names

  • Aromatic wintergreen
  • Boxberry
  • Canada tea
  • Checkerberry
  • Chink
  • Deerberry
  • Ground berry
  • Grouse berry
  • Hillberry
  • Ivory plum
  • Mountain tea
  • Partridge berry
  • Redberry tea
  • Red pollom
  • Spiceberry
  • Spicy wintergreen
  • Spring wintergreen
  • Teaberry
  • Wax cluster

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Parts Usually Used

Leaves
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Description of Plant(s) and
Culture

Wintergreen is a native North American evergreen shrub; the creeping stems send up erect branches, 2-6 inches high, which bear alternate, oval, leathery leaves with serrate (and sometimes bristly) margins. Both the leaves and the solitary, nodding, white, bell-shaped, flowers grow in the axils of the leaves near the tops of the branches. Flowering time is from May to September. The edible fruit following the flowers is a dry, scarlet, berrylike capsule about 1/3 inch across. The whole plant is pungent in taste the spiciness being due to the volatile oil.

Wintergreen is a name applied to several plants of the family Ericaceae which retain their foliage during winter.

The Chinese use a plant they call wintergreen (Pyrola rotundifolia), Chinese name is Lu-ti-ts’ao. Used to staunch bloody wounds, applied to dog bites, snakebites, and insect bites.
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Where Found

Grows in woods and clearings, under large trees and shrubs, on sandy acid soils, from Newfoundland to Manitoba and south to Georgia, Michigan, and Indiana.
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Medicinal Properties

Analgesic, astringent, carminative, diuretic, stimulant, anodyne, anti-rheumatic, antispasmodic, antiseptic, aromatic, emmenagogue
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Biochemical Information

Glycoside, gaultherin (which is comprised of about 99% methyl salicylate) an enzyme gaultherase, aldehyde 1 alcohol, 1 ester, tannin, wax and mucilage.
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Legends, Myths and Stories

This is an old-fashioned remedy. Used in small frequent doses it will stimulate stomach, heart, and respirations.

Once the leaves of this plant are hit by a hard frost and turn purplish, they seem to have a sweeter, stronger flavor. Although it has not been confirmed scientifically, this may indicate a higher essential oil content.
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Uses

The medicinal virtues of wintergreen leaves reside essentially in the oil of wintergreen which can be obtained by steam distillation. The oil consists mostly of methyl salicylate, a close relative of aspirin. Not surprisingly, the leaves have long been used for headache and other aches and pains, inflammations, and rheumatism, rheumatic fever, dropsy, gonorrhea, scrofula, sciatica, lumbago. Recommended for urinary ailments and for colic and flatulence. Externally, a leaf tea can be used as a gargle for sore mouth and sore throat, as a douche for leukorrhea, and as a compress or poultice for skin diseases and inflammations. A cloth soaked with oil of wintergreen has been applied to relieve pain in joints, but the pure oil can cause irritation and must be used cautiously. Used as a poultice, good for boils, swellings, ulcers, felons, old sores.

Used as a flavoring for vermouth. Used to flavor toothpaste. It is one of the most commonly used ingredients, worldwide, in analgesic oils and balms. Essential oil (methyl salicylate) in leaves is synthetically produced for “wintergreen” flavor. Experimentally, small amounts have delayed the onset of tumors. Candy and chewing gum flavoring; perfume, liniments.
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Formulas or Dosages

Collect leaves in the fall.

Infusion: steep 1 tsp. leaves in 1 cup water. Take 1 cup a day, a mouthful at a time.

Tincture: a dose is from 5-15 drops.
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How Sold

Oil of wintergreen
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Warning

Pure oil of wintergreen can cause irritation and must be used cautiously. It is poisonous except in very small amounts. Essential oil is highly toxic; absorbed through skin, harms liver and kidneys.

Wintergreen should never be used during pregnancy.
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Bibliography

Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

Buy It! The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

Buy It! Chinese Medicinal Herbs, compiled by Shih-Chen Li, Georgetown Press, San Francisco, California, 1973.

Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

Herbal Gardening, compiled by The Robison York State Herb Garden, Cornell Plantations, Matthaei Botanical Gardens of the University of Michigan, University of California Botanical Garden, Berkeley., Pantheon Books, Knopf Publishing Group, New York, 1994, first edition

Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

Buy It! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

Buy It! How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine & Crafts, by Frances Densmore, Dover Publications, Inc., 180 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014, first printed by the United States Government Printing Office, Washington, in 1928, this Dover edition 1974

Buy It! An Instant Guide to Medicinal Plants, by Pamela Forey and Ruth Lindsay, Crescent Books (January 27, 1992).

Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature’s Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

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