The wind blows cold, and the bones creak and crack. Winter comes, and with it the bones of the body and the respiratory system adjust to the new reality. Our diets change and so our digestive system works overtime to keep the body going strongly. So let us turn to the forest and herald the fair Wintergreen in our pursuit of hearty health.
Ok, now that all that has been said, let’s talk about why this herb is important for Winter health. This versatile plant braves the snow to offer itself to us for many of the common issues we encounter while we await the return of the Sun’s longer days.
Living in Michigan, your friendly neighborhood herbalists probably were foraging for it in September. To be clear, we are referring to Gaultheria procumbens. Readers usually know this herb most commonly as flavoring for chewing gum, or candle scent. However, the history of its use for a healing plant in this area goes back for hundreds of years.
With effects not dissimilar to aspirin, the first introduction to usage as a remedy is most likely in a tea. A gentle infusion of its leaves is an easy way to access it for the casual user. More concentrated preparations are better left to the more serious student in herbalism.
Sam Wentzell, of Sam’s Woodland Tours in Nova Scotia, CA has a helpful video called How To Make Wintergreen Tea on preparing it as a tea. He takes you through the steps of identification, harvesting, and proper technique for infusion. Because the plant contains methyl salicylate, he rightly cautions you to be wary of your own body’s possible reactions.
The simple rule when using herbs for medicinal usage is to consult trusted sources for instruction. A medical herbalist, naturopath, or holistic herbal practitioner are the best sources for advice regarding this. If on medications, it is vital to consult an allopathic health professional or pharmacist to understand any contraindications.
One of the nicest things about living in Michigan is living in an overlapping space of Appalachian and Indigenous folk herbal preservationist communities. Classes by greats such as Jim McDonald are accessible for most of us. Then in September, we see the Great Lakes Herb Faire bring even more education for seekers of green knowledge.
Keep in mind that medical advice is NOT being given in this tiny little article. I am not a doctor, certified herbalist, or certified naturopath.Follow us at: