A Word on Wintergreen

A Word on Wintergreen

Use of Wintergreen article from Consumer Advocate

As shown in the tables below, most experts advise against the use of wintergreen on almost all children under 16. It should also be avoided by women in any stage of pregnancy, as it can easily cross the placental barrier.

Wintergreen oil (Gaultheria fragrantissima or Gaultheria procumbens) is 96-97% composed of methyl salicylate, a chemical compound very similar to aspirin. Like aspirin, it is used as an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever and is often a component in pain relief balms and massage oils.

In its very diluted form, it is also found in many popular types of mouthwash and, most worryingly, in teething gels for infants. Wintergreen is a more potent blood thinner than aspirin, and should also be avoided by people who use prescription blood thinners.

Unfortunately, wintergreen ingestion can be fatal even for adults, and even too large a dose applied topically to a child can prove to be extremely hazardous. It’s important to note that, if there are children younger than 16 or pregnant women in the household, you should choose creams, balms, teething gels, and/or mouthwashes that are completely free of wintergreen oil.

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