Gaultheria. Gaultheria procumbens.

Botanical name: 

Related entry: Salicylic acid - Sodium salicylate - Salol - Aspirin - Salicin


Volatile oil, tannin, gallic acid, arbutin, urson, ericolin, sugar, gum.

Oil of Gaultheria (Oleum Gaultheriae)—This oil is prepared by distilling wintergreen leaves while fresh with water or steam. It is transparent and colorless when recent, but soon becomes reddish from exposure. It has an aromatic odor and a strong, spicy, agreeable taste. Pure oil of wintergreen contains about 90 per cent of methylsalicylic acid. The dose of the oil is five or ten drops, repeated every two or three hours, till some effect is produced, favorable or otherwise. If ringing in the ears is caused by the medicine, it should be discontinued or repeated in smaller doses when this effect has passed off. The remedy in full doses is apt to cause dangerous depression in debilitated constitutions.

Salicylic acid, made from oil of wintergreen, is the only preparation of the acid suitable for internal use.

A pure salicylate of soda is made from the salicylic acid of oil of wintergreen, which is preferred in the treatment of acute articular rheumatism; while in neuralgia of the fifth cerebral nerve tic douloureux, and gonorrheal rheumatism, the oil of wintergreen, in as large doses as can be borne, is the better treatment. In other cases, a tincture of the fresh plant should be employed.

It may be employed as a spray to the throat in diphtheria; and suitably diluted, as a dressing for wounds; while it may be used internally for the general purposes of an antiseptic.


Specific Gaultheria. Dose, from five to thirty minims.

Specific Symptomatology—The agent is given successfully in the treatment of hemorrhoids from congestion of the pelvic circulation, hemorrhoids with very painful external tumors, of a dark-purple color, with constipation, with pain across the sacrum, and congestion of the portal circulation.

Therapy—It is of benefit in neuralgia, tic douloureux, gonorrheal rheumatism, inflammation of the bladder, irritation of the prostate gland, dysuria, sexual excitement in male or female, spermatorrhea without impotency, acute articular rheumatism, migraine, sciatica, diabetes, diphtheria, chronic mucous discharges and toothache (locally). A liniment of the oil is useful in allaying the pain of rheumatism.

Asthmatic breathing of a non-paroxysmal character is relieved by this remedy, as is asthmatic cough, and cough characterized by constriction or tightness at the supra-sternal notch. In the cough of asthmatic bronchitis, or in dry, harsh, persistent bronchial or phthisical cough, this agent acts nicely.

It is a serviceable remedy in hepatic congestion, and in congestion of the glandular structures of the entire gastro-intestinal tract. Its influence over the portal circulation is most pronounced.

In ovarian conditions inducing too frequent menstruation, with congestion of the pelvic circulation, in addition to the conditions above named, as in enlargement of the uterus, with a swollen, engorged condition of the cervix, it is directly useful.

The oil is now freely used externally in the treatment of articular rheumatism and also in chorea with excellent results. In the latter disorder it is applied, if necessary, over the upper and lower limbs, alternately, and over the spine. It may be given internally at the same time. The application may be confined with oiled silk.

An ointment made of ichthyol and the oil of gaultheria in a proper vehicle, rubbed together thoroughly, makes an excellent application to the joints in acute, and in gonorrheal rheumatism. It acts equally well on the original disease. Six drops of the oil is given three times a clay, and this will cure many cases. If given in conjunction with gelsemium and cimicifuga in the first stages, it will probably shorten or even abort the disease.

The American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy, 1919, was written by Finley Ellingwood, M.D.
It was scanned by Michael Moore for the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine.