Wintergreen essential oil for athletes

by | Oct 2, 2020 | Blog | 2 comments

Latin name: Gaultheria fragrantissima 

Wall Distilled part: leaf

Composition: Methyl salicylate is between 95 and 99%, 

Wintergreen oil origin is Nepal, Asia. Often people confuse it with Gaultheria procubens which come from North America.  Wintergreen essential oil is very rich in natural methyl salicylate. Because of this it is considered to be rare essential oil and is called “monomolecular” and therefore, in this case, a powerful anti-inflammatory.

Main properties of wintergreen essential oil are:

  • analgesic
  • anti-inflammatory
  • rubefacient
  • antispasmodic
  • antiprotozoal 
What are other essential oils similar to wintergreen essential oil?

Methyl salicylate can be found in 3 essential oils:

  • Yellow birch essential oil (Betula alleghaniensis)-97%
  • Wintergreen essential oil (Gaultheria fragrantissima)-95%
  • Gaultheria procumbens – 98% – Its chemical composition differs from wintergreen essential oil but the main anti-inflammatory action and pain reliever making it still excellent for athletes. Gaultheria is often used to relieve tendonitis and muscle cramps. 

These 3 essential oils have the same properties and are used only externally. Be aware that a dose of 5 ml (1 teaspoon) can be fatal for a child!

How does methyl salicylate work?
  • First, antispasmodic action- nerve impulses passage slows down and suppresses spasms and cramps.
  • Second warming action-  the blood vessels dilate,  blood circulation surpluses, and the muscles are thus more irrigated and warm-up, the action of heat relaxes the muscles.
How to use wintergreen essential oil?

Use wintergreen essential oil for tendonitis, muscle contracture, sprain, bruises, oedema, rheumatism, aches, lumbago.

Use in external skin applications only. It will be effective in combination with vegetable oils such as arnica, which will potentiate its anti-inflammatory action, but also with St. John’s wort and Calophyllum.

SYNERGY = the named vegetable oils and essential oils can potentiate the action of wintergreen essential oil. Always refer to a reference book specializing in formulations.

The following vegetable oil, oily macerates, essential oils and their properties listed below only relate to muscle and joint pain.  The contraindications are not stated here.

Vegetable Oils and Oil Macerates

  • Arnica is anti-inflammatory, anticoagulant and helps circulation. The helenalin contained in Arnica exerts an anti-inflammatory action by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins responsible for inflammation.
  • St. John’s Wort is analgesic and anti-inflammatory. It will act in particular on neuralgia and neurological ailments.
  • Calophyllum inophyllum helps with lymphatic drainage and gives anti-inflammatory action. It contains components that inhibit certain factors of inflammation, in particular muscle pain and osteoarthritis. Also, it heals because of the presence of a lactone as calophyllolide which accelerates wounds healing, pimples, eczema.

Essential Oils

  • Lemon eucalyptus – anti-Inflammatory, antirheumatic ++++, antispasmodic. It contains citronellal which intervenes in the immune system. it calms the sensation of heat by dilating the blood vessels. And soothes itchy skin and muscle pain.
  • Italian Helichrysum – anti-hematoma, anti-inflammatory, circulatory. Contains sesquiterpene ketones. It will be effective in reducing and preventing the appearance of bruises, but thanks to monoterpene ketones the healing will promote faster. Sesquiterpene carbides will give an anti-inflammatory action on joint problems.
  • Rosemary camphor is a muscle relaxant ++++ It contains borneol camphor which has a neuromuscular action allowing the local muscle to relax and soothe joint pain.
  • Lavandin Super (burnatii) – antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory. It contains camphor (borneol) that helps not only to relieve muscle contractures but also to give effectiveness in relaxing muscles and calm nervousness. Very appreciated by athletes because of the camphor that composes it, Lavandin Super essential oil has the effect of relieving cramp-type muscle contractures.



  • 30 drops of wintergreen essential oil
  • 30 drops of lemon eucalyptus essential oil
  • 20 drops of Italian helichrysum essential oil
  • 10 ml arnica
  • 8 ml St. John’s Wort
  • 2 ml of inophyllum calophyllum


  • 30 drops of wintergreen essential oil
  • 30 drops of Lemon Eucalyptus essential oil
  • 30 drops of Lavandin super essential oil
  • 20 ml St. John’s Wort

Muscle aches and pains

  • 15 drops super lavender essential oil
  • 15 drops wintergreen essential oil
  • 5 ml Arnica
  • 5 ml St. John’s Wort

Muscle Cramps

  • 30 drops of fragrant wintergreen essential oil
  • 45 drops of Lavandin super essential oil
  • 10 ml arnica 
Why can’t people on anticoagulants use methyl salicylate?

Since wintergreen oil has anticoagulant effects similar to those of aspirin, they will therefore be prohibited from using this essential oil in the event of anticoagulant treatment. Studies have shown that applying wintergreen locally for an analgesic action on people already on an anticoagulant will increase their INR (international normalized ratio) in just 8 days. (1)

To summarize:

  1. wintergreen is only used for skin application on adults;
  2. it is strictly prohibited for children, pregnant and lactating women and people on anticoagulant therapy.
  3. For formulas, look at the contraindications for essential oils (Italian helichrysum, lemon eucalyptus, camphor rosemary and super lavandin) in a reference essential oil book such Daniele Festy.

1 oss JD, LeBlond RF. Potentiation of warfarin anticoagulation associated with topical methyl salicylate. Ann Pharmacother. 2000;34(6):729-33