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Wintergreen A Year Round Natural Treat & Medicine

Wintergreen is a low growing ground cover plant with tiny red berries in the fall. It is an evergreen shrub so you can always find its green leaves, even in winter. Most people know wintergreen from chewing gum or toothpaste but it has many other uses.

Wintergreen is a tasty treat if you find some while walking through the forest. You can eat the leaves and the berries for a refreshing taste.

Wintergreen grows about an inch to an inch and a half high along the forest floor. The leaves are shiny, almost waxy in appearance. They are oblong and rounded at the outside end, coming to a point at the stem of the plant.


Wintergreen berries are small and red, less than a quarter of an inch round. The berry itself has a texture somewhat like an apple.

You can eat both the berries and leaves of the Wintergreen plant. If you crush the leaves you get a distinct wintergreen smell. When chewing the leaves slowly you get a fresh, minty taste with the well known wintergreen flavor.


Wintergreen leaves or berries can be steaped in hot water to make a minty fresh tea.

Wintergreen has long been used as a medicine due to its salicylic acid content, which is the same ingredient in aspirin. To alleviate pain or headache you can chew the leaves or berries of wintergreen or steep them in hot water to make tea. Wintergreen has been used to treat rheumatic pain, back pains and sore throat as well.





Wintergreen oil is highly concentrated and can be toxic in its pure form although it is often used in medicine and food. One ounce of wintergren oil is equal to over 170 aspirins. If you use wintergreen as a medicine it is safer to use the whole leaf in tea or chew it rather than using the oil. Some people are allergic to aspirin. These people should avoid the use of wintergreen. Some cases of poisoning from wintergreen oil have been reported. Some people report severe allergic reactions as well when using the pure wintergreen oil.

As with all foods and medications, try a tiny portion first to test for allergies before using wintergreen at home. And most foods found in nature are best used in their natural form rather than being concentrated, which can be dangerous.

Wintergreen has been used as a flavoring for foods, candies and oral hygiene products.

Wintergreen, an often overlooked apothecary from nature.


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Troy Reid


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