Wintergreen Essential Oil Dangers, Wait….What!!
In the last 9 years of using, sharing and educating on wellness with essential oils and supplements we have seen so many lies and deception in the essential oil world largely fueled by fear mongering.
So with this article, I may bring a bit brevity, fact and chemistry into the equation of Wintergreen Essential Oil safety and FACTS.
There are many claims (especially online) which ironically you are reading this article, “online”. It’s true you cannot believe everything you read online, and lately it has been much more difficult to be an educated consumer because there are so many conflicting bloggers, doctors, aromatherapist, massage therapists and essential oilers. While I maintain, some have good intentions, others also have intentions to drive you to a decision based on fear. A decision to use their services, to buy their products, to never touch anything natural and only depend on synthetic lab concoctions. Perhaps I should creat a “wall of shame” with examples of these fear mongering articles and then compare them with the facts? I digress, let’s get started on the “liver killing”, “baby destroying”, “blood poisoning” (yes actual claims) Wintergreen Essential Oil. Well some those claims could be true, depending on how many isomers they contain…confused? Read on.
To save space and your time, I am going to skip the basics of essential oils in this article, however you can jump over to the basics of essential oils and why Young Living Essential oils has been the leader in pure, ingestible essential oils for the last 21 years based on a the model of purity through their Seed To Seal process.
1.) Essential Oils or Fragrance/Flavor oils? – Did you know the vast majority of essential oils (over 95%) are produced for flavor and fragrance and do not fulfill therapeutic standards? Such oils are not considered suitable for use in applications for wellness. Out of the hundreds of constituents comprising a natural, therapeutic grade oil, the fragrance industry is interested only in the few components that contribute to aroma. The same goes for the flavor industry. Yes essential oils/flavor oils are used in the food industry! All they care about are the components that contribute to taste. Other oils and the topic of this article, Wintergreen used in trace amounts to make mints, mouthwash, toothpaste and chewing gum need only have the compounds that comprise the flavor!
Thus, hundreds of components that comprise a natural oil in balanced proportions, and which are responsible for its properties in wellness, are typically absent from an oil produced for fragrance or flavor. In fact, some perfume and food grade oils are entirely artificial, formulated in a laboratory by synthesizing and mixing the one, two or three main compounds that dominate its natural odor or taste. In England, for example natural wintergreen oil is virtually non-existent! Instead, laboratory-produced methyl salicylate (the main ingredient in wintergreen) is bottled and labeled “oil of wintergreen” when, in fact, it was not derived from a wintergreen plant, Gaultheria procumbens, at all!
In addition to their focus only on the qualities of an oil that serve their purposes, the food and flavor industries are most concerned with economics. Their interest in is producing the necessary oils as inexpensively as possible to maximize profits. In contrast to therapeutic essential oils, which are grown organically, food and fragrance grade oils are normally distilled from plants cultivated with chemical fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides. Most of these are intrinsically toxic and inevitably end up its contaminants in the oils. (Context from The Chemistry of Essential Oils by Dr. David Stewart, page 9,10)
2.) The Exploitation of Toxicological reports – A book, Essential Oil Safety by Robert Tisserand and Tony Balacs is NOT recommended for people who use quality essential oils like Young Living’s because this book does not contain any information in regards to therapeutic oils. However, an unwary reader may not realize this if they don’t study the preface carefully where the authors state, “This text was largely an extrapolation of toxicological reports from the Research Institute for Fragrant Materials.” In other words, this is a book on the toxicity of perfume grade oils. Furthermore, the authors also pointed out all the studies they cite as indications of toxicity in oils, the dates are for animals (not people) and/or the tests were not for a whole oil but for isolated compounds of an oil. (Context from The Chemistry of Essential Oils by Dr. David Stewart, pages 21-22)
Unfortunately much of the information you find online that are not based on the French model of aromatherapy are based on the same opinions and thoughts of Robert Tisserand and perfume grade oils. In those cases where someone is using an essential oil not produced through Young Living’s, Seed To Seal process I would be concerned about the safety of even breathing them in. Since aromatic compounds, even toxic ones can be absorbed into your blood stream through inhalation.
3.) Isolated = Risk – When we some of those resources on line or in literature that some doctors refer to about essential oils, it is usually referring to synthetic oils or oils not specifically produced for therapeutic purposes. Such oils can be toxic and harmful. In particular, when allopathic writers refer to “oil of wintergreen” they are not talking about the oil as it is distilled from a plant, they are talking about synthetically produced methyl salicylate…
Natural oil of wintergreen that has been properly distilled and is unrefined and untampered with is 90-98% methyl salicylate. The other 2-10% of natural ingredients changes everything. Ordinarily toxic compounds (like 1,8 Cineole in eucalyptus) are rendered harmless and beneficial when mixed with other compounds as they are in natural oils. Their toxic tendencies are quenched, buffered, and transformed into good by their companions.
But that’s not all there is to it in this instance. While pure methyl salicylate from a laboratory is toxic, methyl salicylate produced by a plant, such as wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) or birch (Betula alleghaniensis) , is safe. This is not just because natural methyl salicylate in a whole oil is accompanied by friendly ingredients that quench its toxicity, but the methyl salicylate from a lab is not the same substance as the natural version. Natural and synthetic oil compounds can have the same chemical formulas, but different structural formulas and, thus, different effects upon our bodies. (Context from The Chemistry of Essential Oils by Dr. David Stewart, pages 43-44).
When plants produce methyl salicylate, they make a single pure isomer, only one of 25 possible isomers. Laboratories CANNOT do this, when they make methy salicylate in a lab it contains two or more isomer mixtures, this is important because the same compound (methy salicylate) can have different isomers giving an ENTIRELY different response to its properties, and ultimately to those who use it. Again almost all the resources online refer to “oil of wintergreen” synthetically produced or altered.
4.) Natural is Safer – a couple years ago the FDA released a warning to consumers about the usage of Flexall,Bengay and other OTC products containing methyl salicylate, stating they had been causing severe chemical burns. Of course we know that the makers of these products are not going through the the lengths of producing a therapeutic essential oil to add to their chemical filled creams and sprays. I like how Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt explains how natural is safer. “If being in harmony with nature provides a sound basis for well-being, it might immediately follow that natural substances-natural medicines- are inherently safer than synthetic drugs. This notion has been for fought tooth and nail by the representatives of chemical, pharmaceutical, fragrance, flavor and food industries.
The official view contends that there is no difference between natural and so-called nature identical substances (synthesized in the laboratory and considered identical to those that occur in nature, because superficially they have the same structural formula as their natural counterparts) and that a preference for natural materials arises from irrational herd behavior of consumers conned into green trends. For instance, the alcohol linalool from a plant is considered to be identical and equivalent to the same alcohol linalool made in the laboratory, since they share the same molecular formula. This is, however, not true. There are significant physical, biological, and ultimately chemical differences between the two… Further, the industry line maintains that natural substances come with many dubious impurities and that pure, industrial single-substance products are much safer. The latter contention is also misleading, as industrial molecules are also never 100 percent pure’ their impurities are simply different from those in nature and potentially much more toxic….The safety of natural medicines is exponentially higher than that of synthetic drugs, according to whichever statistic is examined”. (Context from The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils by Kurt Schnaubelt, Ph.D.)
So what’s the bottom line? Know your source and know why you want to use essential oils. If you are looking at it from a wellness perspective, then choosing an essential oil company that focuses on wellness with a long history of leading the market in therapeutic essential oils. We love Young Living Essential oils, we have seen their farms, their testing equipment, helped in harvests, and bottling and most importantly had literally experienced tens of thousands of members in our YL Family that have experienced true wellness. I say if you cannot see an essential oil companies farm and/or they do not own any, then they will not be as effective in producing an essential oil designed for wellness the way God designed them. If you are already using YLEO’s then, know you have made the right choice, be confident in your wellness journey and continue to bless others through your experiences using Young Living Essential Oils.