I’d like to ask your opinion if I may. Recently I’ve had a western herbologist join my business and I am finding discussions with him to be very enlightening as well as confusing in a way. For instance, we were talking about wintergreen and how it is contraindicated in Aromatherapy because of its content of methyl salicylate. He then told me that they use wintergreen specifically for its methyl salicylate and this is true for some other “hazardous” oils. Although they don’t use essential oils in their practice but herbs, tinctures and herbal extracts – is this perhaps where the difference lies? The herbologist who has joined me also knows specifically how many milligrams constitute a therapeutic dose and a lethal dose. I wish that I was taught those specifics about essential oils. Yes, I have been taught that some oils have a low therapeutic margin, but not exactly how much is sub-clinical, therapeutic and lethal.
Methyl salicylate is good for some people, not for others. A blanket contraindication is not necessary, but it is best avoided in pregnancy – all salicylates are teratogenic in sufficient amount, including methyl salicylate and aspirin (acetyl salicylic acid). Methyl salicylate must be absolutely avoided by anyone taking blood-thinning drugs, as it increases the action of the drug, and this causes blood to leak into tissues and internal bruising occurs. Knowing a lethal dose tells you very little about what (a) a therapeutic dose would be or (b) a safe dose would be, but it does tell you what dose not to use! Therapeutic dose is good to know of course, and this varies between essential oil and also between purpose. Wintergreen oil has some wonderful properties, but I would not like to see it used at more than 5%.