Botanical name: Gaultheria procumbens
Leaves, fruit, essential oil.
Wintergreen is a shrub-like plant that grows up to six inches in height and bears foliage round the year. It contains phenols (including, gaultherin and salicylic acid), 0.8% volatile oil (up to 99% methyl salicylate), mucilage, resin, and tannins.
Wintergreen leaf is used for painful conditions including headache, nerve pain (particularly sciatica), arthritis, ovarian pain, and menstrual cramps. The wintergreen contains large proportions of methyl salicylate and forms the base of the aspirin group of medicines. Herbalists suggest the external application of wintergreen oil to alleviate excruciating swellings owing to injuries as well as to heal swellings and irritations of the joints and the muscles.
It is used for digestion problems including stomach ache and gas (flatulence); lung conditions including asthma and pleurisy; pain and swelling (inflammation); fever; and kidney problems.
How to Use
To prepare an infusion of the herb, one first needs to pour boiling water over the leaves and leave it in the water for a couple of days. Once this is done, the liquid needs to be reheated and then cooled according to necessity. The fruits or berries of the wintergreen plant may be consumed either fresh, dried or in the form of a jam.