WINTERGREEN ~ plant and oil

The bright red berries and green leaves have a distinctly pleasing wintergreen flavor.
Learn all about Wintergreen, description, extraction, and uses.

Close-up of Wintergreen leaves with new flower buds
Close-up of Wintergreen with new flower buds

WINTERGREEN Plant & Oil

Jeanne Rose – December 2021

Introduction For many, roaming the woods and eating Wintergreen berries is a memory from childhood. The bright red berries and leaves have a distinctly pleasing wintergreen flavor. This is a fine shade-loving ground cover that is native to the woodlands from Manitoba to the eastern United States. It has very attractive, glossy, evergreen rounded leaves (purple-tinted in winter) and delicate, waxy, white flowers which become the large edible fruit. This 6-inch creeper makes a perfect groundcover for woodland, edible, and rock gardens. The fruit is an important food source for pheasant, squirrels, and deer. It is one that is used medicinally as a poultice for aching joints.

Common and Scientific Name ~ The common names of Wintergreen, Checkerberry,  and Teaberry are for the plant known as Gaultheria procumbens. This plant is an aromatic plant of the heath family called Ericaceae.

Countries of Origin of the Plant and oil ~ I have seen essential oil of Wintergreen (G. procumbens or G. fragrantissima) from Nepal and China. G. procumbens is in the forest of Canada and the north of the United States. I have seen the analysis of these as well.

ENDANGERED ~ Wintergreen is native to Ontario Canada. It was first discovered and used by Native Americans; the leaves and berries produce the oil of wintergreen (methyl salicylate). And it is not endangered.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF WINTERGREEN HABITAT and GROWTH ~ Gaultheria procumbens has many short erect branches with short-stalked, thick, shining tooth-edged leaves in the upper part.  Flowers hang singly from the leaf axils and have a pale pink, waxy-looking, urn-shaped corolla.  The bright red berrylike fruits, sometimes called deer-berries, consist of the much-enlarged fleshy calyx, which surrounds the small many-seeded capsule.  The plant is a native of shady wood on sandy soil, particularly in the mountainous areas of the northern United States and southern Canada.”2

Close-up of glossy wintergreen leaves. Photo taken in December.
Close-up of Wintergreen leaves in December

                  This fragrant, evergreen ground cover makes a lovely addition to my urban garden. It is evergreen, a ground cover, and seems to be tolerant of most soil, sandy, dry, slightly alkaline, and drought tolerant.  It seems to prefer well-drained soil.  I plant it in the sun (about 6 hours/day), in the shade, and wherever I need it. I often add oyster shells around the base to add a bit of alkalinity and to highlight the green leaves.  The bright red berries last a long time, sometimes months. I still have a few berries on my plants from December 2020.

            Wintergreen leaf tea is harvested in Nepal and steam distilled. When bruised or cut, the foliage emits a strong wintergreen scent.  Small pinkish-white flowers appear in summer followed by scarlet red berries that are quite persistent.

LEAVES OF WINTERGREEN ARE USED IN EXTRACTION ~ “… the composition of wintergreen essential oil is very simple; its distillation is a bit more complex. First, the methyl salicylate is not free in the plant but bound to some sugar. This non-volatile glucidic complex named gaultherin must be hydrolyzed prior to distillation so that the methyl salicylate can be distilled. The leaves must be macerated in hot water prior to the distillation so that the plant enzymes can free the methyl salicylate. This macerate water is used in the hydrodistillation.                            Wintergreen essential oil is one of the rare oils that are denser than water and it doesn’t decant easily. The distillation of eastern teaberry requires a still with a special design (a separator for heavy oils and for better yields, the possibility to distill with cohobation).1

For more technical details on the distillation test, 2.7 kg of the plant (stems and leaves) have been harvested and macerated in water the night before distillation. [see the article for more information).1

            Wintergreen leaf tea is harvested in Nepal and the oil is made by steam processing of warmed, water-soaked wintergreen leaves. and then steam-distilled.

When bruised or cut, the foliage emits a strong wintergreen scent.  Small pinkish-white flowers appear in summer followed by scarlet red berries that are quite persistent.

ORGANOLEPTICS of Wintergreen ~ The scent of the essential oil is bright and fresh and should be used in dilution – never neat.

Two bottles of essential oil of Wintergreen, one red oil, and one colorless oil
Two bottles of essential oil of Wintergreen, one red oil, and one colorless oil

ORGANOLEPTICSWintergreen – redWintergreen – no color
Colorreddishcolorless
Clarityclearclear
ViscosityNon-viscousNon-viscous
Intensity86
TasteStrong & bitterStrong & bitter
OdorEponymous Wintergreen gum odor. green, fruity, herbaceousFruity, green, and Herbaceous

CHEMISTRY AND COMPONENTS ~ WINTERGREEN oil has a relatively simple composition. Methyl salicylate is the main compound found in this EO at a concentration higher than 98%. The remaining part of the oil generally contains low amounts of ethyl salicylate, linalool, α-pinene, and limonene. Regarding adulteration, it’s obvious that pure synthetic methyl salicylate can be sold as genuine wintergreen oil. This can be detected by the absence of minority molecules mentioned above or by the presence of synthetic by-products created during the manufacturing process of synthetic methyl salicylate.

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GENERAL PROPERTIES of Wintergreen Herb and EO

Wintergreen is an herb. It has a good taste and is used in teas for headaches and other types of pain, fever, gas, pain of arthritis, and other conditions. In foods, wintergreen fruit is consumed raw or cooked in jellies, syrups, and wine and is very tasty.            
          The leaves and oil are used to make medicine. In manufacturing, Wintergreen is used as a flavoring agent in food, candies, teas, root beer, and in pharmaceutical products. The E.O. is used for painful conditions including headache, arthritis, and menstrual cramps. It is also used for digestion problems including stomachache and gas (flatulence) and lung conditions including asthma.

APPLICATION AND SKINCARE ~ Wintergreen leaf tea is used as a compress for painful conditions including headache, arthritis, and menstrual cramps. The tea is also taken for digestion problems including stomachache and gas (flatulence), and lung conditions including asthma. Compresses of the herb leaf or blends that can include the essential oil are used for pain and swelling (inflammation).

            The scent of the essential oil is bright and fresh and should be used in dilution – never neat. The E.O. is used for painful conditions including headache, arthritis, and menstrual cramps.

INHALATION ~ Occasional use is okay.

DIFFUSION ~ Do Not diffuse this oil as it can be very irritating.

Thirty years ago, a friend was being cared for at home. In his last days, he had explosive diarrhea.  His family was only able to combat the odor by periodically diffusing Wintergreen into his area of the home. But this is not recommended for most situations as some are allergic to the scent.

BLENDING FOR PURPOSE ~ Be careful if you use Wintergreen in a blend for its scent.  It can be very irritating to some people.  Do not use this in a pain blend with a heating pad as the heat can drive the oil into the skin and cause a serious burn.

            Wintergreen added to Lavender can result in a blend that has the smell of a warm sea.  Try it at 1•100 and if that doesn’t do it, then add another drop of Wintergreen.

            Very small amounts added to various blends always add a sweet, happy, note to the oils it is mixed with.

EMOTIONAL & SYMBOLIC USE ~ Wintergreen has much symbolism attached to it.  These plants are considered calming and cooling and represent healing and protection. Some believe that when given as a gift they break any hex that surrounds the person getting the gift and that they attract love, luck, and money.  This is a great gift to be given to others as a potted plant for a shady, sunny spot on the porch or to be woven into a wreath. A sprig placed under a child’s pillow offers protection and a life of good fortune3

Two plants, one in the bud and one with the flowers fully developed.  Such a lovely plant.
Two plants, one in the bud and one with the flowers fully developed. Such a lovely plant.

CULINARY OR INGESTION ~ Wintergreen berries (Gaultheria procumbens) are a favorite January breath mint and trailside snack. One of the few fruits that is sweetest and freshest on a cold winter or early spring day, frozen wintergreen berries have “ the texture of sorbet “ and a classic wintergreen flavor. The red berries of this native species persistently cling to the plant and, like wild fox grapes, truly come into their own after the first frost. Prolonged, hard frost only invigorates the wintergreen flavor, reducing lingering bitterness and bringing out the cool, creamy texture of the red berry’s flesh. The fruit is at its finest freshly picked and eaten raw, but its flavor can be strong and only one or two berries is plenty to cleanse the palette. This is not a fruit that should be eaten by the handful; think of it as a garnish or palate cleanser.6

Wintergreen with berries. Plant obtained from Forest Farm http://www.forestfarm.com/
Wintergreen with berries. Plant obtained from Forest Farm http://www.forestfarm.com/

HERBAL USES OF WINTERGREEN AND BIRCH BARK ~ Compresses of the herb leaf or blends that include the essential oil are used for pain and swelling (inflammation). The leaves are used in baths, compresses, tonics, and many other ways.  “It will help external skin problems as a decoction application, but if you are sensitive to salicylates, it can also cause skin problems.4” Use in moderation.

HYDROSOL ~ I have never had the opportunity to use this hydrosol in any capacity.  I have had Birchbark hydrosol (same chemical component) and used small amounts as a foot bath for my aching feet.

KEY USE ~ Wintergreen Leaf and oil for Pain-Relief

A bottle of Prima Fleur essential oil of Wintergreen.
A bottle of Prima Fleur Wintergreen essential oil

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WINTERGREEN TOMATO TALE

Here is a story from 1988 regarding Wintergreen. These two oils  Birch and Wintergreen smell alike, contain methyl salicylate and may cause allergic reactions in sensitive persons, so it would be wise to check this before applying.

            Do not apply essential oils in a steam bath. Once while taking a steam bath, I made the mistake of applying a single drop of Wintergreen oil to the outside of my swimsuit.  The steam caused the oil to vaporize and met my skin, nose, and eyes.  Now even though I am not normally sensitive to this substance, the heat of the steam bath and the steam itself caused the oil to diffuse and vaporize, expanding incredibly, the skin above the suit line broke out into a bright red rash that burned and itched painfully.  I had to leave the steam room immediately and run cold water on my irritated skin for 10 minutes until the pain dulled and then went away.  I also applied vitamin E oil to heal the rash.

 So do be very careful when using essential oils; remember that they are highly concentrated substances that require only an infinitesimal amount to be effective.

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INTERESTING/SCIENCE/HISTORICAL ~ “…serious toxicity can result from exposure to small amounts of methyl salicylate. Methyl salicylate is widely available as a component in many over-the-counter brands of creams, ointments, lotions, liniments, and medicated oils intended for topical application to relieve musculoskeletal aches and pains. Among the most potent forms of methyl salicylate is oil of wintergreen (98% methyl salicylate). Other products with varying concentrations of methyl salicylate are ubiquitous throughout many parts of the world, including a number of products marketed as Asian herbal remedies.” ‑‑­­­­–– https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0736467906006366

POLLUTANT ~ Wintergreen oil is considered a pollutant to marine life and a hazard to wildlife.5

SOURCE OF WINTERBGREEN ~ plants@forestfarm.com

REFERENCES ~
1https://phytochemia.com/en/2018/07/03/about-canadian-wintergreen/
2 https://www.britannica.com/plant/wintergreen-plant
3 The Complete Language of Flowers. S. Therese Dietz. #401
4 Rose, Jeanne • The Herbal Body Book, page 131
5 Roses, Jeanne • 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols, p, 157
6 https://www.themushroomforager.com/blog/2017/1/17/wintergreen-the-hardy-wild-breath-mint

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This work was sponsored and supported by Prima Fleur Botanicals.

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Wintergreen oil cautions.
Some Cautions to Remember with Wintergreen

Moderation in All Things.
Be moderate in your use of essential oils as they are just not sustainable for the environment.
Be selective and more moderate in your usage.
Use the herb first as tea or the infusion. —JeanneRose 2014

DISCLAIMER:  This work is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for accurate diagnosis and treatment by a qualified health care professional. Dosages are often not given, as that is a matter between you and your health care provider. The author is neither a chemist nor a medical doctor.  The content herein is the product of research and personal and practical experience. Institute of Aromatic & Herbal Studies – Jeanne Rose©

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Wintergreen plant in a pot.
Wintergreen plant in a pot.

RAVINTSARA

Ravintsara

A Study in Identity Confusion and Confliction

By Jeanne Rose – Summer 2021

4 bottles of Ravintsara oil, in the author's possession.  Photo by JeanneRose
several bottles of ravintsara oil – photo by JeanneRose

Introduction ~ Ravintsara #163, Cinnamomum camphora, is organically grown and not to be confused with Ravensara. Ravensara (Ravensara aromatica) and Ravintsara (Cinnamomum camphora) are two essential oils distilled from 2 very different trees, often misnamed from two separate botanical family, as well as two different countries. The leaves and wood of the tree are used for different essential oils and often also have different names. It is imperative that all who use essential oils, and any company that sells them, begin to label these oils using both common and scientific name, as well as part of the plant used, and country of origin.

NAMING AND DESCRIPTION ARE CONFUSING.

Naming & Background ~ Cinnamomum camphora, the tree, has different oils with different names depending upon whether you are talking about leaves or wood and whether you are discussing the tree from Madagascar or elsewhere.  The leaves of the tree from Madagascar, CT cineole, are called Ravintsara and they are used in products as an application for fatigue, and postpartum infections. The essential oil from the leaves/stem, and bark has different therapeutic benefits. Often, it seems, when using the term C. camphora, camphor laurel, we are talking about the tree that grows in China and whose seeds have been studied as an anti-bacterial and whose wood is distilled and releases a solid, white, waxy substance called ‘camphor’.

Names and part and country as follows:

Cinnamomum camphora, CT cineole, leaves, Madagascar is Ravintsara oil

Cinnamomum camphora, CT linalool, leaves, China is Ho leaf oil.

Cinnamomum camphora, CT linalool, wood, China is Ho Wood oil

Cinnamomum camphora, CT linalool, wood and leaves, China is Shiu oil

Cinnamomum camphora, CT camphor, wood, China is called white camphor, yellow camphor, and other names.

Ravensara aromatica, CT methyl eugenol, leaves, Madagascar is Ravensara or Hazomanitra oil.

Ravensara aromatica, CT methyl chavicol, bark, Madagascar, is Anise wood oil aka Ravensara anisata.

Sometimes the leaves are picked with stems and when distilled, have that anise-scent of R. aromatica type anisata, bark, Madagascar is called Anise wood oil, and called Ravensara anisata. –– this from Material review 2005 [https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Hector-

Also, some scientific sources call this tree and another, Ravenala madagascariensis which is family Strelitziaceae, a palm-type tree. There is much confusion and Ravensara aromatica (the old name) is still confusing in the literature.  Ravenala madagascariensis Sonn. (Family STRELITZIACEAE), a palm tree whose leaves are used for asthma and the stem used for hypertension.

I remember these essential oils by scent and even that has changed over the years.

Family ~ Family Lauraceae – Cinnamomum camphora – Ravintsara. The essential oil of leaves, Cineole type, from the Madagascar tree is commercially known as ravintsara. The leaves are steam-distilled and depending upon terroir there are different chemical families represented.  The main ones are linalool and cineole. This tree with a common name of Camphor laurel has different names depending upon the six different chemical variants called chemotypes. These are camphor, linalool, 1,8-cineole, nerolidol, safrole, and borneol.

Countries of Origin ~ Ravintsara is a product of Madagascar.

Endangered – Probably, it depends upon to whom you are speaking and what plant and plant part they are discussing.  Even in the scientific literature, often the plant part being discussed is missing as evidenced from many articles in the literature as well as any book discussing essential oils.

  If you are using the leaves only of the R. aromatica, the tree itself is not endangered; however, if you are using the bark of this same tree [but called R. anisata], this tree is endangered.

General Description of Plant habitat and Growth and Confusion ~ I am unable to provide a proper description of the tree, only that at this writing this essential oil still causes confusion. Obtained from the leaves of a tree (Cinnamomum camphora (L.) J. Presl), which was introduced from Taiwan as an ornamental tree and now grown widely in Madagascar and with increased demand from the international market. This essential oil has often been misreported and traded as ravensara, or Ravensara aromatica. The true ravensara (R. aromatica) essential oil is extracted from the leaves of an endemic species locally known as “havozo,’ or “hazomanitra, which means “aromatic tree” in the Malagasy language.”1

“Another source of confusion with Ravensara species is that R. aromatica and R. anisata (a synonym for R. aromatica) were considered different species producing different essential oils, whereas the plants were one and the same. Both essential oils come from the same plant, but the oil of R. anisata usually refers to the bark oil of R. aromatica (rich in methyl chavicol), while the essential oil of the true R. aromatica is extracted from the leaves. The species that was first described by Sonnerat was further renamed as R. anisata by Danguy.”2

PORTION OF PLANT USED IN EXTRACTION AND YIELDS ~ Ravintsara Essential Oil is steam distilled from leaves of Cinnamomum camphora CT cineole in Madagascar during the months of September through December.  The bark yields another product. Always carefully analyze the odor of the essential oil as there are certainly different grades and scents.  Wood, leaf, bark produce different essential oil by SD. See above.

Yield ~ I was unable to find the specific yield of essential oil of leaf of Cinnamomum camphora from Madagascar.

The chemical composition of R. aromatica bark is in all cases characterized by a high amount of methyl chavicol (83–98%), whatever the chemotype.

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A bottle of  Prima fleur Ravintasara oil showing the color or lack of and the clarity.
Ravintsara showing color/clarity

ORGANOLEPTICS ~ The organoleptic, physical, and chemical profiles of the essential oils of ravintsara (C. camphora) and ravensara (R. aromatica) oils showed that both essential oils can also easily be differentiated using chemical fingerprinting. It has been proposed that new standards for their botanical and essential oil authentication and species identification be written.

Ravintsara – Cinnamomum camphora CT cineole, leaves, Madagascar

Color – colorless
Clarity – clear
Viscosity non-viscous
Scent Intensity – 6
Taste – bitter and aromatic

Tenacity – very good
Description of scent – The leaf oil is herbaceous, woody, spicy, and green and more suitable to therapeutics than perfumery.
Aroma Description – Ravintsara has an odor much like Eucalyptus due to the same chemical component of Cineol. It is pleasant and refreshing, fruity, herbaceous, and spicy. Waft the scent enough times to remember it by its odor.

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GENERAL PROPERTIES of Ravintsara CT cineole

Properties of Ravintsara ~ This essential oil is considered anticatarrhal, decongestant, and expectorant. It is helpful and useful for rhinitis, pharyngitis, bronchitis, and sinusitis (by inhalation).

BLENDING RAVINTSARA FOR PURPOSE ~ This robust and pleasant oil is best used in blends for the respiratory system and in massage blends, to refresh and uplift the body.  It blends well with herbaceous oils such as Rosemary and Marjoram, the citrus oils such as Lemon and Bergamot, and spicy oils. Included in this list are some resins and some grasses such as Frankincense and Palmarosa. Try very tiny amounts in perfumery to make the perfume sparkle.

>Formula for rhinitis ~ For perennial allergic rhinitis (PAR), the essential oils of Ravintsara, Geranium, (Pelargonium graveolens), Eucalyptus and Niaouli, used together, release their decongestant, tonic, and anti-infectious properties, and can be used in a base of saline solution and rosemary hydrosol, and provide great benefits in case of a blocked nose, (loss of sense of smell), and irritation of the ear, nose, throat (ENT) tract.3

Formula:

1 oz Rosemary hydrosol
+  1 oz double strength saline solution*
+ 3 drops Ravintsara (Cinnamomum camphora, CT cineole, leaves, Madagascar is Ravintsara oil
+ 1 drop each of (Frankincense or Rose Geranium), Niaouli, and Eucalyptus.
Place all in a 2 oz nasal spray bottle, shake vigorously to use.

            *[Double strength saline solution is made by bringing to a boil 1 cup of water covered for 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Add 1 t. salt and a pinch of baking soda. Stir until dissolved. Store in the refrigerator no more than 2-days.]

>Another formula for rhinitis is the inhalation of a combination of EO that include Sandalwood, Ravensara aromatica, and Frankincense.2

>Sore throat Formula ~ For the beginning of a sore throat, I have used Ravintsara, a drop on a sugar cube, to slowly dissolve in my mouth.  I have found this to be very helpful.

HERBAL ~ A tea of the leaves of Cinnamomum camphora in Madagascar is used for fatigue and post-partum infection.

Chemistry and Components ~ We have discussed this in the beginning.  It is important for the consumer to look at the GCMS; if you want Ravintsara it must be from Madagascar and have high levels of cineol, 50-70%.  The scent will help guide you.  I have seen a product called this name (from a well-known essential oil company) that had a high percentage of linalool and that is NOT Ravintsara but Ho Leaf oil.

Key Uses ~ Ravintsara is the oil of the Respiratory system. Just like the citrine in the opening photo, ravintsara is a powerful cleanser.

Ravintsara oil - different sized bottles
Ravintsara oil

References

  1. Searching for the Real Ravensara (Ravensara aromatica Sonn.) Essential Oil. Perfumer & Flavorist, vol. 30, Jan-Feb 2005
  2. “Effect of inhalation of aromatherapy oil on patients with perennial allergic rhinitis: a randomized controlled trial,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2016, Article ID 7896081, 7 pages, 2016.
  3.    Effect of the Use of Intranasal Spray of Essential Oils in Patients with Perennial Allergic Rhinitis: A Prospective Study https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32961531/

This examination of the latest information about the essential oil Ravintsara

was sponsored and supported by Prima Fleur Botanicals.

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Cautions to Remember chart
Cautions

Ravintsara exploration written by Jeanne Rose 2021

Moderation in All Things.

Be moderate in your use of essential oils as they are just not sustainable for the environment.

Be selective and more moderate in your usage.

Use the herb first as tea or the infusion. —JeanneRose 2014

Ravensara aromatica Sonnerat is a tree endemic to Madagascar. The essential oil extracted from the leaves is used in aromatherapy. Previous chemical studies have generated some confusion about the chemical composition of this essential oil. To eliminate this uncertainty, we undertook a systematic evaluation of the chemical composition of essential oils from leaves of this species. The study focused on 28 individual samples formally identified as R. aromatica. The essential oils were obtained by hydrodistillation and analyzed by GC and GC–MS. It was possible to distinguish four groups of trees through principal components analysis and agglomerative hierarchical clustering analysis of the seven chief molecules identified in their essential oils. Two groups were characterized by a prevalence of compounds with an aromatic structure: methyl chavicol (representing more than 90% of the essential oil) in the first group and methyl eugenol (74–82%) in the second group. The predominant compounds of the other two groups proved to be of the monoterpene type: α-terpinene (25–28%) and limonene (15–22%) in the third group, while sabinene (25–34%), linalool (7–21%) and terpinen-4-ol (6–12%) were the primary constituents of the essential oils in the fourth group. The importance of these results for the commercial production of the essential oils from this species is discussed. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Intraspecific chemical variability and highlighting of chemotypes of leaf essential oils from Ravensara aromatica Sonnerat, a tree endemic to Madagascar. By Hanitriniaina Sahondra AndrianoelisoaChantal MenutPhilippe Collas de ChatelperronJérôme SaraccoPanja RamanoelinaPascal Danthu

Arnica

Arnica CO2 & with Sunflower

a bottle of Arnica CO2
Arnica CO2 & with Sunflower

Introduction & Synopsis ~ Arnica is an introduced plant in the United States that was used in Europe as a painkiller, is now used in gels and products specifically to relieve aches and pains of overused joints and muscles.

Common Name/Latin binomial ~ Arnica, Arnica montana, or mountain tobacco or Leopard’s bane has many species (up to 34), subspecies, and varieties. Montana means ‘of the mountain’ and not from Montana.

Other Names and Background  ~ the common names listed above are also used for other plants, and in the case of Arnica spp., it is best to use this simple descriptor, Arnica, rather than any of the so-called common names that people often use.

Family ~ Asteraceae, Compositae, is a very large and widespread family of flowering plants. In terms of numbers of species, the Asteraceae are rivaled only by the Orchidaceae. herbaceous plants (Sunflower) , shrubs, and trees (such as Lachanodes arborea is one) distributed throughout the world. The plants are characterized by their composite flower heads and one-seeded achene fruits

Both Arnica and Sunflower are members of this family and includes lettuce, daisies, sunflowers, chrysanthemums, asters, marigolds, zinnias, asters, chamomile, chicory, sage, tarragon, ragweed, thistle, sagebrush, yarrow and much more.

photo of Arnica flowers and Sunflowers
bristly Arnica and blooming Sunflower

Arnica flowers and Sunflowers

History of the Plants ~ As early as the 16th century, Arnica was traditionally used in Europe as an anti-inflammatory for the treatment of aches and sprains.

Countries of Origin & Extraction  ~ Arnica is indigenous to north and central Europe and is now grown organically in several countries; the flowers are dried, and then solvent-extracted by supercritical fluid extraction with natural carbon dioxide. There are no solvent residues, no inorganic salts, no heavy metals, no reproducible microorganisms. This CO2 extract is standardized with organically grown sunflower oil to a constant content of 3.5 to 4.5% sesquiterpene lactones with a small amount of essential oil, waxes, resins, and sunflower oil.

            Some Arnica is gathered from the wild in Canada, but commercial production of the native and/or European species is also being fostered in several regions.

            Arnica cordifolia is found throughout the western United States, in high mountains and coniferous forests. This was  used by native Americans normally as an herbal mash or compress and applied to swellings and bruises.

General Description of Plant habitat and Growth ~ The Arnicas (genus Arnica) are relatively simple to identify. They are the only genus of yellow-rayed composites that regularly have opposite, simple leaves (not divided into leaflets) and hair-like (capillary) bristles topping the fruits. These features are easy to see without magnification.

Endangered ~ In 2020 an article in the PLOS ONE journal stated that “Populations of Arnica montana, a characteristic species of nutrient poor grasslands in Central Europe, have been deteriorating over the last decades, especially in lowland regions. Population size has been declining and signs of sexual reproduction are scarce. “Where once there had been large stable populations there is now small or none. The soil has become nutrient rich which diminishes the number of seedlings.”

Organoleptics ~ This product is a thick, viscous, brownish red paste with a mild pleasant scent that is slighty spicy, floral, and vegetative and is quite pleasant to smell.

General Properties of Arnica and Sunflower in Skin Care ~ Arnica is an anti-inflammatory and is used with Sunflower seed oil. This vegetable oil has many fine qualities; especially that it is light in texture, supremely adaptable for delicate skin care, it is inexpensive, it is locally grown, and usually grown without pesticides and fungicides as the flowers are high in the air and well-away from soil borne fungus or bugs, it is adapted to dry-farming and thus ecologically and earth friendly, and your skin will like it.

This is oil is healthy for the skin and healthy for the planet. It is a fine-quality oil, especially for normal to oily skin.  It is especially nice for aromatherapy uses because it has very little scent and is very light in texture on the skin.  

Blending for Purpose ~ Arnica CO2 can be dissolved in any vegetable oil or in cosmetic products as the Arnica extract acts to relieve muscle soreness and expedite healing of bruised and strained muscles.

Culinary/Internal Use ~ Not used. Arnica is not used internally, as it is poisonous and should not be taken internally or by mouth. Arnica contains the toxin helenalin which can be poisonous if large amounts of the plant are eaten; and it can cause  irritation of the mouth and throat, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, skin rashes, shortness of breath, a fast heartbeat, an increase in blood pressure, heart damage, organ failure, increased bleeding, coma, and death.

Maceration ~ When used externally it is good for bruising but for those with sensitive skin contact with the plant can also cause skin irritation. Instead of Arnica, use other organically grown plants that are anti-inflammatory. 

HERBAL USES ~ Topical arnica is promoted as a useful treatment for the inflammation and pain associated with bruises, aches, postsurgical bruising and swelling, and sprains. It is of traditional use in the treatment of sports injuries.
           Arnica patches placed at the very point of greatest pain eases the pain of fibromyalgia. Laura stated, “I used one on my shoulder and felt relief very quickly. After about 2 hours, I could feel ache returning and removed the patch. My skin had a slight red area where the patch had been. The redness was gone within the hour. I found the patch had little to no outward fragrance. It stayed on very well.”

          Oral homoeopathic arnica is used for the treatment of postsurgical bruising and swelling, for the relief of mouth and throat inflammation.             

Chemistry and Components ~ Arnica Flower CO2-to extract (organic), 4 % Sesquiterpene lactones. Flavex of Germany has a good summation of Arnica’s mechanism of Activity and the literature: “Mechanism of Activity. The sesquiterpene lactones with mainly esters of helenalin and 11 alpha,13-dihydrohelenalin are responsible for the anti-inflammatory and pharmacological activity. They not only inhibit the NF-kappa B activation, but also decrease the production of many inflammatory cytokines. This prevents the recruitment of immune cells, T- and B-cells, as well as macrophages and neutrophils and thus reduce inflammation. It has been shown that helenalin can inactivate previously activated NF-kappa B, a decisive factor for treatment of inflammation.”

Contraindications ~ Arnica is a bristly, deep-rooted plant with leathery lower leaves, and takes over the earth where it does not belong, injuring the animals that eat it by damaging the digestive system. Arnica has the ability to prevent clots from forming and thus should not be taken in herbal products or medication that thin blood such as aspirin, ginger, garlic, ginger and many different medications. Arnica is poisonous if taken internally; it poisons the animals that eat it and threatens pastureland where it is a widespread invader in the United States and should not be grown here.

Warning ~ Arnica is toxic, do not take internally.

Key Uses ~ Anti-inflammatory, improves blood-circulation when applied externally

References – PLOS ONE – May 29, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0233709
The Healing Power of Plants. Virtual Museum.ca
Foster and Hobbs. Medicinal Plants and Herbs. Peterson Field Guides. 2002

Source ~ Many thanks to PrimaFleurBotanicals.com for the samples of Arnica and assistance.
Jeanne Rose Herbal Studies & Aromatherapy Studies Courseshttp://www.jeannerose.net

This work is sponsored and supported by Prima Fleur Botanicals.

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SOME CAUTIONS TO REMEMBER FOR ALL PLANTS & THEIR PARTS

Precautions and Contraindications
Precautions & Contraindications

Moderation in All Things.
Be moderate in your use of essential oils as they are just not sustainable for the environment.
Be selective and more moderate in your usage.
Use the herb first as tea or the infusion. —JeanneRose 2014

DISCLAIMER:  This work is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for accurate diagnosis and treatment by a qualified health care professional. Dosages are often not given, as that is a matter between you and your health care provider. The author is neither a chemist nor a medical doctor.  The content herein is the product of research and personal and practical experience. Institute of Aromatic & Herbal Studies – Jeanne Rose©

small bottle of arnica in a porcelain dish
Arnica in a 100-year-old porcelain dish

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The Healing Oil

HEALING OIL — The Secrets of Famous Bruise Juice Decoded
By Jeanne Rose

photo of various bottles that contain either Brise Juice or Calendula infused joil
Bruise Juice & Calendula Oil by Jeanne Rose

History of Bruise Juice – During 1969 I was trying to figure out how to cure my paralyzed shoulder. One source for historical herbal information was the library at the U.C. Medical School. There I found a most fascinating book, “Receipts in Physick and Chirurgery,” by Sir Kenelm Digby, Knight, 1668. There was a recipe for a potent ointment that would heal at a far distance. Well, that was certainly fascinating as it meant if you had an injury in New York I could rub the same place on me while in San Francisco and heal your injury 3000 miles away. So I set about collecting the ingredients and spent the next six months working on the formula. Since the receipt itself was so old, the names of many of the herbs were a mystery: such as what in heck was smallage? It turns out the name smallage is simply an old name for Celery seed. So that was not a problem. Also, the ointment was made with ‘herbs in season’. that is, freshly picked botanicals. This meant that I had to start in spring and end at the next spring. I solved this problem by purchasing some dried herbs from Nature’s Herb Company in San Francisco and also using some fresh herbs. The process and original formula is in my book, Herbs & Things that was written in 1969 and published in 1972.

This book is still available as a spiral bound book and is still a wonderful source of information. Buy it by the month of September and receive a discount by saving shipping charges. The entire amount to send would be only $28.00 . www.jeannerose.net
Available book at website

I teach my students how to make both bruise Juice and a truly wonderful Calendula infused oil in my Herbal/Aromatic SPA class given in April of every year. Check out our classes and sign up, you too can learn to take care of yourself and your family with simple herbs and essential oils.

I always use at least 40 – 60 herbs, roots, barks and spices in the Bruise Juice to combat any sort of physical problem. Great for athletes; football, baseball, lacrosse, basketball, rugby and used on all sports injuries Bruise Juice, pick and start work on a waxing moon. Let it drain and bottle on a waning moon.

Chart showing a number of herbs that can be used in making Bruise Juice.
Neutral-Eliminator-Building Herbs for Healing

Essential Oils per gallon • Each quart of Bruise Juice contains over 2.5% essential oil and should contain all or some of these oils. Tea Tree essential oil by itself is not effective.
Plai/Teatree – first aid in all its forms, mild, anti-bacterial, and first aid treatment
Litsea cubeba – anti-viral (in a combination — Tea Tree 1 part • Litsea •9 parts)
Palmarosa – anti-fungal and anti-yeast
Rosemary verbenone – anti-fungal (verbenone) and stimulating

• 

           Some of the herbs that I have used are as follows – of course since this is a Seasonal product, the herbs used depend on the season that we are making the Bruise Juice. Spring Bruise Juice is often green, leaves and early flowers; Summer Bruise Juice is flowers and lots of herb parts; Fall Bruise Juice is leaves and roots; Winter Bruise Juice is often conifers, seeds and barks. We always use between 40-60 herbs, leaves, barks, roots, stems, and flowers in my Bruise Juice to honor its 400-year-old past.

Angelica archangelica – leaf & stem
Artemisia absinthium – Absinthe leaf
Artemisia arborescens – leaf & stem
Artemisia latiloba – leaf & stem
Artemisia vulgare – leaf & stem
Artichoke leaf – Cynara scolymus
Bougainvillea flowers & leaf
California Poppy flowers
California Fuchsia
Comfrey – flower, leaf & stem
Fennel Seed
Fern (Lady Fern) Athyrium filix-femina
Feverfew Tanacetum parthenium
Forget-Me-Not Myosotis sylvatica
Foxglove flowers
Giant Sequoia – Sequoiadendron giganteum
Iboza riparia – leaf & stem (anti-microbial)
Lemon Balm – leaf & stem
Marjoram & Yellow Marjoram – Origanum majorana
Marshmallow leaf & stem – Althea officinalis
Matilija Poppy Romneya coulteri – Fried egg flower
Mint leaf & steam of Bergamot mint, Wild mint

  Healing Symbol

Nasturtium Tropaeolum majus – flower, leaf & stem
Nicotiana alata Tobacco flower –
    flower, leaf & stem
Pelargonium graveolens – flower & stem
Pelargonium odoratissimum
(Apple & nutmeg) Peppermint leaf & stem
Potato Solanum tuberosum – leaf
Rose eglanteria leaf
Rosemary – leaf & stem
Salvia clevelandii
Pineapple Sage – leaf & stem
Sequoiadendron giganteum – leaf & bark
Spanish mint – leaf & stem
Spearmint – leaf & stem
Strawberry, wild
Violet leaf & stem & flowers
Wisteria flower – W. sinensis
Witch Hazel bark, stems, buds
Woodruff leaf
Yarrow flower & stem (Achillea millefolium)

photos of plants, 9 of the many herbs that are used in bruise juice.

Bruise Juice is a well-known product developed by Jeanne Rose in 1969. It was written about & described in Herbs & Things, Jeanne Rose’s Herbal – see pages 204-206. Each season of the year, the Bruise Juice is made with the freshest herbs of the season – so Spring Bruise Juice will smell and react a bit different than Summer made or Fall made Bruise Juice. Apply with fingers, cotton ball, t-tip as massage, application or rub. Rub it on gently or firmly, as often as necessary, at least several times per day.

Summer 2008 — made with herbs including
Comfrey leaf – emollient & healing
Yarrow flowers – astringent & healing
Lemon Balm tops – aromatic & antiviral
Mint & Bergamot mint – aromatic
Witch Hazel leaves – astringent
Marshmallow flowers and leaves – healing

BLM, the warrior,  with his combat vehicle.
Bruise Juice Warrior, Bryan Moore
Chart listing 101 Uses for the Healing Oil, also called "Bruise Juice".

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We have many users of the fabulous Bruise Juice with comments and here is one,

“I received the bottle of Bruise Juice. Thank you!! I have been using it by application religiously each morning & evening. It is a wonderful formulation. I love the scent! If you have that scent in a more concentrated formula as a fragrance application I would like to know. Warm regards … J” In the early days, people used this on salad as dressing, but this is the first time that anyone wanted to use it as a scent!

“I gave blood on Saturday.  The tech person poked through the vein and it immediately swelled bigger than my thumb.  When I got home, I put bruise juice on it, liberally.  There was almost no bruising, and today I can
hardly see it at all.  The other arm they finally got the pint out of is more bruised that the arm that swelled!  Good stuff!” — E.T.

 

Bruise Juice is always good applied on children’s injuries and even when those children grow up to be Warriors.

bottle of the healing oil called Bruise Juice
Healing Comfrey in the Bruise Juice


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Symbol for Healing

All rights reserved 2008, 2020. No part of this article may be used without prior permission from Jeanne Rose. © Authors Copyright Jeanne Rose, info@jeannerose.net