Gaultheria procumbens (Ericaceae)
WINTERGREEN, TEABERRY, CHECKERBERRY
The leaves of this North American
shrub are used by herbalists to relieve the pain of rheumatism, sprains, and
sciatica. Synthetic oil of wintergreen is sold over-the-counter as a
liniment or cream for similar uses.
Wintergreen used to be a major source of natural methyl salicylates
(anti-inflammatory drugs), but most of the wintergreen oil containing methyl salicylates sold today is
synthetic. A native of North America, it thrives on poor, dry, and sandy soils. It is a small, perennial,
shrubby plant with stiff erect branches, tufts of oval leaves, and
drooping white flowers that appear in midsummer and develop into red berries.
Volatile oil containing methyl salicylate; phenolic compounds,
including salicylic, gaultherin, vanillic and caffeic acids.
Anti-inflammatory; increases urine production; anti-rheumatic.
Applied externally to relieve the pain of rheumatism,
myalgia (muscle pain), sprains, and sciatica. Methyl salicylate is an ingredient of several pharmaceutical preparations.
Ointment, liniment, cream.