Gaultheria procumbens, Ericaceae. The leaves are the part of the plant used.

The leaves can be collected throughout the year but summer is preferable. They are dried in the shade.

Functions of wintergreen

Wintergreen is largely used for its oil which is rich in methyl salicylate. This is the chemical basis of aspirin. It:

  • can be used for reducing the pain and inflammation in acute rheumatism.
  • is most commonly used externally in a liniment for the treatment of chronic forms of muscular and skeletal problems such as lumbago and sciatica.
  • has been used internally for its diuretic and emmenagogic activity. (It will increase urination and regulate the menstruation process).


Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1 teaspoonful of the dried leaves and infuse for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk three times per day.

For the gardener

Wintergreen is a perennial evergreen plant. It prefers an acid, sandy soil that is rich in humus and is well drained. It grows the best in shade or partial shade.

Wintergreen is propagated by seeds which are planted in the spring or autumn. It can also be grown from root division undertaken in the autumn.

It makes an excellent ground cover.


Hoffmann, D. 2000, The New Holistic Herbal. Element Pub.

Marcin, M. M. 1990, Herbal Teas: Growing Harvesting and Brewing. Collins.

Mills, S. Y. 1989, The A-Z of Modern Herbalism: A Comprehensive Guide to Practical Herbal Therapy. Thorson.




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