Aromatherapy is a safe and effective therapy which makes use of essential oils.
These oils are plant extracts that are highly concentrated which need to be diluted prior to use.
Aromatherapy has been known to benefit various diseases including arthritis.
Arthritis can affect anyone at any age. Main symptoms of this disease are joint pain, joint stiffness, and inflammation.
Arthritis not only disables the patient, but it can also cause a lack of interest, anxiety, and depression.
Undoubtedly arthritis requires medication in the management of the disease.
But complementary therapies like aromatherapy can benefit by improving the patient’s quality of life.
This article discusses the benefits of wintergreen essential oil in arthritis patients. Before we get into the topic let us know some more about its origin and common uses.
What is Wintergreen Essential Oil?
Wintergreen is an aromatic low-growing shrub that is native to North America. Another type of wintergreen is native to India and Ceylon. It grows in shady regions and produces red edible berries.
Wintergreen is also known as eastern teaberry and checkerberry.
Wintergreen oil is a pale-yellow liquid that has a minty odor. It is obtained from the leaves of wintergreen through a process of steam distillation. It is mainly made up of ‘methyl salicylate’.
Methyl salicylate is known for its pain reducing effects.
It has a similar chemical structure to aspirin. But unlike aspirin methyl salicylate is only applied for topical pain relief.
Traditionally, wintergreen has been in use in alleviating respiratory infections, digestive problems, sore throat, inflammation, liver problems, cancer and as a muscle pain reliever .
Wintergreen is currently used in cosmetics, perfumery and food flavoring too.
Benefits of Wintergreen Essential Oil in Arthritis
Benefits of Wintergreen essential oil in arthritis can be attributed to its analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant benefits. Wintergreen essential oil has been proven to relieve mild to moderate pain and inflammation in arthritis. It has also shown some antioxidant benefits in research studies that can help in detoxification in arthritis patients. It can also uplift and have an energizing effect.
1. Wintergreen Oil is an Excellent Pain Reliever
Painful joints and stiffness of joints are main arthritis symptoms that require painkiller medicines and topical pain relief ointments.
Wintergreen oil mainly contains methyl salicylate which is studied to be effective in reducing pain when applied to the skin .
In a clinical trial, applying wintergreen oil topically has been shown to reduced pain effectively in patients with painful joints.
A study conducted on 208 patients demonstrated that methyl salicylate can effectively reduce mild to moderate joint pain in adults.
In the management of acute and chronic pain methyl salicylate is proven to be effective by numerous research studies.
It must also be noted that methyl salicylate is the main component of many medicinal ointments for pain relief.
Therefore, wintergreen oil is an exceptional topical agent to be used for joint pain in arthritis.
What does this mean? Wintergreen essential oil contains methyl salicylate that is a wonderful joint pain reliever. This effect is well-demonstrated by research trials in patients.
2. It Has Anti-inflammatory Properties Which Benefits Arthritis
Inflammation is one of the main symptoms of arthritis. It is responsible for the pain and swelling of the joints. Inflammation in arthritis is caused when the body’s own immune system attacks the joint cells.
This process is brought about by chemicals called as ‘pro-inflammatory mediators’.
Methyl salicylate was used traditionally as a folk medicine to relieve inflammation.
This effect has now been applied to treat various inflammation-related disorders.
Methyl salicylate, present in wintergreen oil, is determined by researchers to effectively reduce the inflammation by reducing the pro-inflammatory mediators.
Flavonoids present in this oil imparts this anti-inflammatory benefit.
The anti-inflammatory effect of wintergreen oil is proven by various studies in animals.
It also manifests this effect by acting on specific enzymes in the body which is to reduce inflammation related to arthritis.
Considering the long-standing use of wintergreen oil and the current research data it can be claimed to be of great use for arthritis patients.
What does this mean? Wintergreen essential oil is an anti-inflammatory agent that reduces inflammation related to arthritis by suppressing the enzymes responsible for it.
3. It Improves Detoxification and Reduces Oxidative Stress
Detoxification is a necessary process in arthritis as there can be increased toxins in arthritis patient’s body and reduced antioxidant content.
This imbalance can lead to something called ‘oxidative stress’ that can damage the cells.
Wintergreen oil possesses an antioxidant property which is effective in reducing the oxidative stress and detoxification.
Inflammation and anti-oxidant properties are inter-related in a manner that if antioxidants are not available there is increases chances of inflammation in the body.
An experimental research study confirmed that wintergreen possesses moderate antioxidant effects.
Anthocyanins are the main chemical compounds that provide the antioxidant benefits to wintergreen oil .
Polyphenols are the other set of compounds that add to the antioxidant benefits .
It must be noted that antioxidant benefits have not yet been studied in human trials or in arthritis patients.
Nevertheless, wintergreen oil could be suggested as a herbal remedy with potential antioxidant benefits.
What does this mean? Wintergreen essential oil can increase the antioxidant effects and help in detoxification which in turn benefits in providing anti-inflammatory benefits too.
4. Wintergreen Oil Can Energize the Body and Uplift Mood
Arthritis can make you feel less energized and more easily fatigable .
Wintergreen oil has a minty and refreshing aroma that can make you feel instantly energized.
Aromatherapy inhalation carries the essential oil through the nose to the center in the brain which regulates mood .
Wintergreen essential oil could be beneficial in a similar fashion.
However, it is important to note that this effect has not been demonstrated by clinical trial yet. More studies will be required to confirm this effect.
What does this mean? Wintergreen essential oil could have an uplifting effect on our mood and energize you upon inhalation. However, there is insufficient clinical data to suggest this benefit strongly.
How to Use Wintergreen Essential Oil - Dosage
Wintergreen oil can be applied to the skin in its diluted form to relieve muscle and joint pain .
A 10ml of 2.5% wintergreen oil can be applied to reduce the joint pain.
Take 2-3 drops oil diluted oil and massage the joint pain areas.
Inhalation of wintergreen essential oil via a diffuser can uplift your mood. Use 2-3 drops of very diluted oil in the diffuser.
Wintergreen essential oil must not be consumed orally as it contains methyl salicylate which is toxic when ingested.
Even small doses (a teaspoon) taken orally can lead to fatal toxicity.
Side effects of prolonged usage of wintergreen oil on the skin can cause vision and hearing problems, shortness of breath, and skin cell death.
It is not advisable to use concentrated essential oil on the skin that is undiluted as it can be toxic. Keep this oil away from children as accidental ingestion can cause severe problems .
Avoid usage of this oil in pregnancy.
Do not use wintergreen oil if you are taking aspirin and warfarin. Do not use if you are suffering from epilepsy or seizures .
Asthmatic patients should not inhale wintergreen oil and it may trigger an attack . Do not use this oil without your physician’s advice if you are concomitant diseases .
Wintergreen is a small shrub native to North America and India. It has been used as in traditional medicine as an antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and pain reliever in muscle and joint pain.
Wintergreen essential oil is an extract with a minty odor that mainly contains methyl salicylate.
Methyl salicylate is known to reduce pain when applied topically and it is used in various marketed topical pain relief ointments.
Wintergreen can be beneficial in arthritis in reducing pain and inflammation.
Some studies also prove the antioxidant benefits of this oil which could reduce cell damage in arthritis. It can also have slight benefits by uplifting the mood in arthritis patients.
Wintergreen oil is known to be fatally toxic when taken orally. It can be applied topically to attain benefits.
However, some precautions must be taken while applying it topically.
Although wintergreen has been claimed to possess a lot of properties that can benefit in human health, research studies do not seem to support them all. Strong research data is necessary to consolidate other advantages of this oil in arthritis.