The healing power of mountain tea or wintergreen

Mountain tea is an evergreen plant; The leaves of this dwarf shrub do not fall off in winter. The plant originally grows in the US, Canada, China and Nepal. The plant is sometimes used as a ground cover ornamental plant. It grows well in moist soils and needs plenty of light. You can eat the berries of this plant and they taste minty. In English the plant is called teaberry and in regions where the plant grows, ice cream and sweets are made from both the berry and the leaves. It is becoming increasingly popular to keep the mountain tea as a potted plant so that you can bring it indoors in winter; its bright red berries have a high Christmas content. This plant is for sale in all kinds of garden centers around Christmas time. In phytotherapy, this plant is used to reduce muscle pain and to solve other tendon and muscle problems. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.

Botanical drawing evergreen / Source: K√∂hler’s Medizinal Pflanzen, Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)


  • Naming
  • History of use of mountain tea
  • Wintergreen oil in sports oil
  • Important active ingredients
  • Wintergreen oil for pain, tendons and muscles
  • Dose and safety


In Latin this medicinal plant is called Gaultheria procumbens . Dutch knows the names Wintergreen, wintergreen and mountain tea. The names wintergreen and evergreen are of course given because this plant remains green in the winter. As the name mountain tea and the English name teaberry say, a tea is made from this plant. The Latin name Gaultheria was given to honor the French botanist Jean Francois Galuthier (1708-1756). He worked with Linnaeus to study plants from Canada.

History of use of mountain tea

The original inhabitants of North America, the Indians, used mountain tea as a medicinal plant. They use the plant for back pain, rheumatism, fever and headache. The effect on back pain and rheumatism is still applied by a massage oil based on wintergreen. It is true that it would work for fever and headache because it contains a substance that is very similar to acetylsalicylic acid, the active substance in aspirin. By the way, in our time the essential oil of mountain tea is sold. This is dangerous to use internally because it is difficult to dose properly. One drop contains so much acetylsalicylic acid that even deaths have occurred due to ingestion of this essential oil. Essential oil or essential oil is very concentrated and almost never intended for internal use. Using the leaves for tea is not dangerous.

Wintergreen oil is analgesic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. That’s why it’s put in toothpaste; it kills oral bacteria and the minty taste freshens the mouth.

Wintergreen oil in sports oil

Wintergreen oil is found in some sports oils because it is analgesic, relieves muscle pain and improves blood circulation. Because wintergreen oil is easily absorbed through the skin into the body and this oil has toxic properties in large concentrations, it should not be used for too long.

Important active ingredients

Only the leaves of this plant are used for medicinal purposes. An essential oil is obtained from this leaf that consists of 99% methyl salicylate. This oil is obtained by placing the leaves in a warm bath. Wintergreen oil is very concentrated and should therefore only be used in dilution. You can dilute it with hazelnut oil, almond oil, sesame oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil, sunflower oil and the like. Always use the ratio of one part wintergreen oil to four parts organic vegetable oil.

Wintergreen oil for pain, tendons and muscles

Methyl salicate is a strong anti-inflammatory agent that has the same effect as acetylsalicylic acid in aspirin, but slightly stronger. Because it inhibits inflammation, it is an analgesic. It also dilates blood vessels, increases blood flow and counteracts cramps. Due to its applications on ornaments, wintergreen oil is often incorporated into sports oil. In phytotherapy it is used externally for the following indications:

  • Rheumatic pains due to arthritis and arthrosis,
  • muscle aches,
  • muscle strain,
  • Tendonitis,
  • tennis elbow,
  • Bursitis,
  • Injuries (except shortly after they occurred).

Dose and safety

  • The oil must always be applied diluted. Use 20% wintergreen oil and 80% other oil such as hazelnut oil.
  • Do not use for too long in a row.
  • Do not use in combination with blood thinners; see a doctor.
  • Do not use in children under six years of age.
  • Do not use on damaged skin.
  • Do not use the oil during pregnancy.
  • Wintergreen oil should never be used internally.