The Daily Dose: Periwinkle

Wintergreen, (Gaultheria Procumbens, Ericaceae Family)

Common Name: Periwinkle, Spice Berry, Deerberry, Teaberry

Medicinal Part: The Whole Plant, particularly the leaf

Description: Wintergreen is a low growing, broad-leaved, evergreen plant with a creeping stem. The shoots from the stem grow to a height of 4-5 inches and bear solitary white flowers which are followed by red berries. These berries are edible and are widely known as teaberries or checkerberries. Wintergreen is a common plant in woods and clearings from eastern Canada southward to the Gulf States but its collection is somewhat difficult. Both the dry herb and the oil form marketable products.

Like other woodland plants, it thrives only in partial shade and plantings should be made in a grove or under a specially constructed shade, such as is used for Goldenseal or Ginseng. A fairly good growth may be expected in the soil which is thoroughly mixed with leaf mold to a depth of 4 inches or more. Wild plants may be used for propagation. Divisions of these may be set in the fall or spring about 6 square inches apart in permanent beds.

Wintergreen is usually gathered in October or at the end of the growing season. The plants are carefully dried and packed in bags or boxes for marketing. For the production of the volatile oil, the plants are soaked in water for about 24 hours and then distilled with steam.

It differs from Pipsissewa in that it has a distinct wintergreen aroma and flavor and the flowers are generally below the leaves, whereas the Pipsissewa bears its flowers several inches above the leaves. The leaves also differ in their shape.

Properties and Uses: Wintergreen is diuretic. Small doses stimulate the stomach and large doses have the opposite effect and cause vomiting. It is an old-time remedy.

Dose and Preparation: A teaspoonful of the plant, cut small or granulated, to a cup of boiling water. Drink cold, one cupful during the day, a large mouthful at a time. Of the tincture, 5 to 20 min.

Sources: The Herbalist, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eqt9Px1EH_Y