Birch Essential oil has Identical Chemistry as Wintergreen

P. Wintergreen, may4 '03

Birch and Wintergreen essential oil have 98% the same chemistry and smell almost identical, but wintergreen has a stronger aroma being more fruity, fresher, greener, and sweeter smelling. What makes them chemically the same is that they share a key ingredient called methyl salicylate, and they are the heaviest essential oils known to date. Each plant is 98% esters, which turn into methyl salicylate after acetylation from the fermented fresh leaves. Soaked in warm water it induces an enzymatic reaction to free the glycoside bound methyl salicylate.

Wintergreen was traditionally used for its key ingredient methyl salicylate, which was used as food flavouring for confections, non-alcoholic drinks, chewing gum, and toothpaste. It has also been used by the perfume and pharmaceutical industry but is now replaced by a cheaper synthetic alternative. It has a long history of use by Native Americans as a pain reliever and it is used in the form of teas, baths, and ointments. Methyl salicylates are aspirin like compounds.

Wintergreen grows in open woods, moist soil and underneath evergreens. The creeping stems send up erect branches 2-6 inches high. Alternate oval leathery leaves with serrate margins hold nodding white waxy flowers near the top of the stem. It blooms anywhere from May to September. Gaultheria fragrantissima from the Himalayas, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and East Asia is a different species but it is used in the same way and has the same chemistry too.


COMMON NAME WINTERGREEN aka Checkerberry, Spiceberry, Teaberry  
Latin Name Gaultheria procumbens
Family Ericaceae (Heath family)
Country of Origin Native North America, China, India
Volatility Top
Extraction Steam distilled from fermented fresh leaves. Warm water enzymatic reaction frees glycoside bound methyl salicylate  
Colour Clear yellow
Aroma Sweet, fat, green, fruity, wet 
Caution Contraindications Medium Strength: Do not use neat, undiluted.Dermocaustic, irritating to skin.Anticoagulant. Caution in conjunction with blood thinning drugs

Do not use with nephritis, it is an irritant to kidneys.

Do not use with compromised liver function.

Do not use in pregnancy, lactation, with children or those who are allergic to aspirin.

Primary Uses Pain: in general-Headache, aches and pains, arthritis, rheumatism, backache, sciatica, neuralgia, gout, fever, fibromyalgia, sprains, cramps, gas, bloating, bunions, corns, cysts, warts, callusesCaution: blood thinner

Respiratory: coughs, spasms

Properties Analgesic, aromatic, anti-inflammatory, febrifuge, astringent, stimulant, antibacterial, anti-rheumatic, carminative, haemostatic, cholagogue, diuretic, expectorant, counter irritant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, anti-coagulant 
Constituents Essential Oil Yield: .5% 

Esters 98%:

after acetylating forms-

methyl salicylate

Betula spp. L. Birch bark has the same chemistry



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