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Know your Herbs

Winter Green

Winter green is a plant that remains green throughout winter. The botanical name for wintergreen is Gaultheria Procumbense. It belongs to the Ericaceous plant family & is native to America, Europe & Asia. Some common names of this plant are winterberry, tea leaf, deer berry, eastern teaberry, checker berry or teaberry plant. 

Winter green is a small shrub that grows up to a height of 10-15cm. The leaves are evergreen & oval in shape. The plant bears white coloured, bell-shaped 5mm long flowers. Wintergreen plant bears berry-like fruits which have a fleshy calyx.

The leaves of the plant are first soaked in warm water & then used for the extraction of oil through the process of steam distillation. This oil extracted from winter green seeds is pale yellowish or pinkish in colour. It has a strong aroma with a minty flavour.

This volatile oil contains large amounts of methyl salicylate.  It also has traces of tannin, resin, a-pinene, myrcene, etc. It is used for flavouring food, gums, mints & candies.  The oil is quite popular due to its medicinal uses. It has been used in various ointments & painkillers due to its effectiveness in reducing pain. Its medicinal qualities are also used for the treatment of muscular issues, skeletal disorders, intermittent fever & rheumatism. Despite these qualities, it is recommended to be used in small amounts & not to be prepared at home.

Benefits of Winter Green Oil

  • Analgesic Properties : Wintergreen oil is enriched with analgesic properties that help in relieving body pain. It possesses somewhat cortisone-like effects that help in giving relief from pain & comforts the body. When applied to numb body parts, it can improve the blood circulation & give a deep warming sensation to the body.
     
  • Helps in treating arthritis : Rheumatoid arthritis is characterised by inflammation of joints, the stiffness of joints & joint pain. The inflammation & joint pain is tackled well with the use of winter green oil. It is used in many Ayurvedic medicines & therapeutic oils that give relief from inflammation & stiffness of joints. The analgesic action also gives comfort in joint pain.
     
  • Anti-microbial Action : The anti-microbial action of this natural oil acts against bacterial infections attacking the body. Not just bacteria, this oil works even on protozoa & fungi infecting the body. It should be noted that it is not advised to take the oil internally.
     
  • Effective in dental problems : Dental issues like a pain in gums, bad breath, oral cavity are dealt well with the use of winter green oil. Its anti-inflammatory action, analgesic & anti-microbial property helps in treating dental problems effectively. Its minty flavour helps in fighting bad breath & keeps the mouth clean & fresh. It is even used in the composition of chewing gums, toothpastes, ointments & painkillers.
     
  • Good for skin : Skin infections are generally caused due to bacterial & fungal infections. Wintergreen oil is effective in countering such infections which makes it good for skin. It even helps in preventing acne.