I recently purchased a couple of tiny wintergreen bushes from a local supermarket and am wondering whether I may use the red berries effectively in an ointment for pain relief. (I make simple ointments using cocoa butter, almond oil, vitamin E, beeswax and benzoin.)
Is it safe to use the berries in ointment? I know that using essential oil of wintergreen, being highly concentrated, can be risky because of the high level of methyl salycilate it contains.
Any advice would be much appreciated. The berries have such a lovely fresh, clean scent.
Every good wish to everyone.
Charmaine in North Wales
I don't grow wintergreen, but I've just checked in David Hoffman's book and he says to use the leaves for making oil. He says you can collect them all year round, but the summer leaves are the most effective.
Henriette Kress recommends meadowsweet and SJW oil for pain. I've made a successful arthritis salve with meadowsweet, plantain, ginger and SJW.
Obviously you need to think about where the pain is coming from, so you can target the most effective herbs, so think whether it's a nerve type pain e.g.sciatica where rosemary and SJW are good, an arthritis type pain where the joint responds to warming - capsicum, spices, ginger or inflamed condition where you want to cool - calendula, elderflower, meadowsweet etc.
Hope you have fun with your plants.
March 25 2010, 6:53 PM
A little bit late I know, but thanks a million for the helpful information on wintergreen way back in January. But, what is SJW? I've not come across that one!
I don't normally suffer from aches and pains but I injured my knee by slipping on some wet moss 18 months ago after caring for a friend's herb beds. It's a real pain and swollen now, so I'll first find out from GP next week what's causing the problem and then use one of your recommended herbal treatments.
Many thanks and best wishes.
March 26 2010, 11:28 AM
Sorry to hear you've been in the wars. SJW is St John's wort. I would suggest you check the National Institute of Medical Herbalists database and find someone who practices near you who can help you with your knee.
I'm not a qualified herbalist, but from what you've told me, I'd be looking at anti-inflammatory herbs - possibly plantain and calendula and turmeric, plus herbs to repair the knee joint - plantain and solomon's seal, with daily cupfuls of bone broth to provide replacement cartilage, SJW and meadowsweet for the pain and cabbage leaves or elderflower compress or oil for when it is hot and swollen.
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