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
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
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
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.