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Gaultheria procumbensGaultheria 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.

 

PARTS USED

Leaves.

 

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS

Volatile oil containing methyl salicylate; phenolic compounds, including salicylic, gaultherin, vanillic and caffeic acids.

 

ACTIONS

Anti-inflammatory; increases urine production; anti-rheumatic.

 

MEDICINAL USE

Applied externally to relieve the pain of rheumatism, myalgia (muscle pain), sprains, and sciatica. Methyl salicylate is an ingredient of several pharmaceutical preparations.

 

PREPARATIONS

Ointment, liniment, cream.

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