✵The article gives records of the herb Wintergreen, its English name, Latin name, common names, property and flavor, its botanical source two plant species, ①.Gaultheria procumbens L., with a detailed introduction to the botanical features of this plant species, the growth characteristics, and ecological environment of this plant species, the features of the herb Wintergreen, its pharmacological actions, medicinal efficacy, and administration guide.
English Name: Wintergreen.
Latin Name: Gaultheria procumbens L.
Common Names: Boxberry, checkerberry, Deerberry, Ground Berry, Hillberry, mountain tea, partridgeberry, spiceberry, teaberry, Wax Cluster.
Property and flavor: wintergreen has an aromatic odor, the whole plant tastes astringent.
Brief introduction: This shrublike, low-lying perennial is common to woody areas and bears small white or pale pink bell-shaped flowers that bloom in July and August and are followed by brilliant scarlet fruits, or berries. The berries are used medicinally, along with the herb's glossy green and leathery leaves and an essential oil distilled from them.
Botanical source: Common herbal classics defined the herb Wintergreen as the fruit of the species (1).Gaultheria procumbens L. It is a plant species of the Pimpinella genus, the Apiaceae family (Umbelliferae, parsley family). The dried fruit and essential oil from the ripe fruit are used medicinally. This commonly used species is introduced:
(1).Gaultheria procumbens L.
Botanical description: Gaultheria procumbens is a bushy evergreen plant with procumbent stems and upright rigid branches up to 15 cm high. It grows best under trees and shrubs. The branches bear clusters of leaves at their tips. The leaves are coriaceous, oval, 2~5 cm long, 1~2 cm wide, glabrous and glossy above, paler beneath, long and solitary.
The flowers are 7.5 mm long, solitary, hanging, and grow from the base of the leaves. They are white or pale pink and campanulate. The fruit is the enlarged calyx. The scarlet berries are dull red and about 0.6~0.9 cm in diameter, or 0.5 cm when dried. They are fleshy, globular, and bilocular, and contain numerous whitish, ovoid, flattened seeds. The berry-like fruit is a dry capsular fruit surrounded by a fleshy calyx. It can also be produced as an annual variety due to its short growth cycle and fast fruiting. The variety is beautiful in appearance, strong in stress resistance, and dark red fruits will not fall off easily. Its flowering period is from June to July, the fruiting period is from August to October.
Ecological environment: Gaultheria procumbens is native to the northeastern USA (the United States of America) and Canada, from western Newfoundland to southeastern Manitoba and south to Alabama. In parts of its natural distribution area, the plant is endangered.
Growth characteristics: The plant grows mostly in acidic soils, it can grow in clay, heavy, moist, and acidic soils, and grows well in dappled shade, and partial shade.
Uses of Gaultheria procumbens: Gaultheria procumbens is an excellent shade-tolerant and cold-resistant evergreen ground cover plant, with bright fruit color, adding winter with beauty. It is ideal for woodland gardens, rock gardens, foundations, or natural plant areas. An interesting addition to acid-loving shrubs like rhododendrons, rhododendrons, and blueberries. The Royal Horticultural Society of the United Kingdom awarded it its prestigious "Garden Award" (AGM).
The fruit can be eaten raw or added to pastries and salads. The fruit is an excellent winter food for some wild animals such as pheasants, grouse, squirrels, and deer.
Leaf oils and leaf extracts are often used in cosmetic products. It can be used as a common condiment for chewing gum, candy, and toothpaste. The leaves were once made into ointments for arthritis, pain, and muscle soreness. The leaves and stems can be made into tea through the normal drying and steeping process(this use is now deprecated), in order for the tea to develop a more methyl salicylate smell, they need to be fermented in warm water for a few days before drinking.
Characters of herbs: Wintergreen leaves are the leaves of Gaultheria procumbens.
Pharmacological actions: ①.counterirritant; ②.anti-inflammatory; ③.tannins and astringent effect; ④.muilage and soothing effect; ⑤.reducing fever and treating inflammation and pain, etc.
Wintergreen contains a high concentration of methyl salicylate, a compound that is used as a mild topical counterirritant for inflamed or irritated joints. Counterirritants cause superficial irritation and redness, thereby deflecting deeper pain and discomfort, such as that caused by muscle injuries and arthritic joint pains.
Methyl salicylate is a component in sweet birch oil, has a relationship to aspirin, and also helps reduce inflammation.
Wintergreen contains astringent compounds called tannins, and mucilage which has a soothing and softening substance, mucilage help indirectly alleviate the soreness in muscles and joints, and explains why a gargle is used for throat irritation and its tea is used in relieving stomach upset.
Wintergreen reduces fever and treats inflammation and pain internally, as its component methyl salicylate has a similar function to aspirin.
Medicinal efficacy: Native Americans use wintergreen tea from the leaves to alleviate rheumatic discomforts, headache, fever, sore throat, and various aches and pains. Settlers used wintergreen as a diuretic for fluid retention. Herbalists promote wintergreen tea taken internally as a balm for pain, colic, and excess gas. The oil is used externally as a pain reliever, astringent, diuretic, and stimulant, it is applied to painfully swollen, inflamed, or sore muscles and joints, especially when caused by injuries or rheumatic ailments.
Wintergreen oil was once popular as a flavoring in candies, kinds of toothpaste, and food, as well as an aromatic agent in perfumes.
Administration of Wintergreen (Boxberry):
Administration Guide of Wintergreen (Boxberry)
Herbal classic books:
Dosage: Formulations containing concentrations of methyl salicylate of 10 to 60 percent are applied externally up to four times per day. An infusion for internal use is prepared with one teaspoon of the leaves and flowering tops, steep for 5 to 20 minutes in boiling water. It is drunk cold, one mouthful at a time, not exceeding one cup per day. They should not be used after strenuous exercise or in conjunction with a heating pad.
Contraindications, Precautions and Adverse Reactions: Wintergreen infusions are probably safe to take in moderation. Never take wintergreen oil internally because it is poisonous except in very small amounts, such as those used commercially for flavoring. Children who drank the oil were reported to have a case of fatalities. Do not apply the oil to the skin of children under twelve. Never swallow methyl salicylate, it is much more toxic than most salicylates, such as the acetylsalicylic acid found in aspirin, and fatal poisonings in children have been reported. It can also cause allergic contact dermatitis and anaphylactic or severe allergic reactions.
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1.Introduction of Wintergreen:boxberry or teaberry.