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Wintergreen Oil - Safety note

Hi Karen,

A note about wintergreen oil - I don’t know if this has been
mentioned - it is extremely poisionous.

A few years back a cleaning woman in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia was at a
clients home accompanied by a child. the child was playing in the
bedroom and discovered some wintergreen oil on the bedside table.
It smells like candy. The child ingested approximately a teaspoon of
the oil and died. Apparently there is not antidote.

Donna
Donna Hiebert Design

For all the newbies, and the oldies who forgot we had a thread going
on Oil of Wintergreen and where it came from in October of 2003.
Check archives if you like. If you don’t, here is a short bit you
might find interesting, and should put down urban legends about the
stuff being poisonous. I grow the wintergreen birches in my yard and
chew on a twig, as Native Americans did long ago, calling it Indian
toothbrush. I’ve lived long, and not poisoned. Please don’t pass on
mis-without checking.

Originally the Gaultheria was used commercially for oil of
wintergreen. We used up all the stock and turned to cutting down
the beautiful Red Birch trees. Now it is possibly made
synthetically. A great many things can poison a small child - hence
all the childproof bottles and locks on cabinets. It can also get
into a windpipe going down. But it is not inherently poisonous or
toxic to handle, or use as lubricant on jewelry.

Here is a paragraph from Oct. 21, '03. And I’d personally urge
everyone to save a beautiful native tree and use olive oil.

Yes, Tas, that plant has several names : (Gaultheria Procumbens) aka
Periwinkle, Spice Berry, Deerberry, Teaberry, as well as
Checkerberry. Common in woods and clearings from eastern Canada
southward to the Gulf states, thriving only in partial shade. It is
diuretic and believed by some to have a peculiarly beneficial action
in indicated condition. Small doses stimulate the stomach, large
doses have the opposite effect and cause vomiting. It is an old
time remedy.

Dose: A teaspoonful of the plant, cut small or granulated, to a cup
of boiling water. Drink cold, one cupful during the day, a large
mouthful at a time; of the tincture, 5 to 20 min. Thus sayeth The
Herbalist.

That birch tree I mentioned earlier also produces oil of
wintergreen. As you can see, the stuff may smell and feel fierce in
the undiluted form, but is not poisonous.

Pat

I must urgently and wholeheartedly disagree with you Pat about
Wintergreen Oil not being poisonous. If someone is using a synthetic
version then, yes it probably won’t do much harm. I don’t know much
about synthetics. However, true Wintergreen oil is an essential oil
obtained by steam distillation from the leaf of the Wintergreen plant
(Gaultheria procumbens). It is toxic, an irritant, sensitizing and
should only be use in small amounts with great care. Its principal
constituents are almost exclusively methyl salicylate (up to 98
percent) with formaldehyde. Chewing on a piece of birch is
absolutely not the same thing as working with or ingesting a highly
concentrated oil, especially one like Wintergreen. The essential oil
of Wintergreen has been used interchangeably with Sweet Birch
essential oil being that both are almost identical in composition.
Sweet Birch oil is not exactly toxic but it can be harmful in large
doses. I am talking exclusively about the oil and not and tinctures,
syrups, tonics or teas that might be made with the bark. I do
believe that such concoctions were Native American remedies and that
they could be readily consumed without peril. However, cosuming this
oil in any amount over a few drops would be a very bad idea.

Methyl salicylate is also classed as an environmental hazard or
marine pollutant. Interestingly it is used as a flavoring agent in
toothpaste, chewing gum, root beer, Coca-Cola and other soft drinks.
Even so, I am a Certified Aromatherapist and would never advise a
novice user that Wintergreen oil or Sweet Birch oil were safe to use
in any manner desired.

Nancy Stinnett
Geosoul Arts
www.geosoul.com
866-4-90GLASS

    Dose:  A teaspoonful of the plant, cut small or granulated, to
a cup of boiling water. Drink cold, one cupful during the day, a
large mouthful at a time; of the tincture, 5 to 20 min. Thus sayeth
The Herbalist. That birch tree I mentioned earlier also produces oil
of wintergreen. As you can see, the stuff may smell and feel fierce
in the undiluted form, but is not poisonous. 

Hi Folks…

In the realm of Aromatherapy, what is known as Wintergreen essential
oil… Is almost entirely methyl salicylate…like up to 98%…

The standard plant sources are Gautheria procumbens and the Sweet
birch… This form isn’t really crudely in the plant, but comes about
through maceration in warm water…and then is distilled to
concentrate it…

That being the method of production from the plant source, though
most of what exists today is figured to be synthetic methyl sal
anyway…

In high concentration like that…it is toxic…

And yeah 10 ml or 30 ml ingested is gonna make you feel pretty
bad… ] Think about how ya might feel after eating a tube or two of
Ben Gay……

Gary W. Bourbonais
L’Hermite Aromatique
A.J.P. (GIA)