Gaultheria procumbens, Linne', or Betula lenta, Linne'. An ester (compound ether) obtained by distilling leaves of the former, or bark of the latter, and produced synthetically.

Habitat. N. America, Newfoundland to Georgia, Minnesota; cold damp woods (shade of evergreens); forests.

Syn. Wintergreen, Spring (Creeping, Spicy, Aromatic) Wintergreen, Checker (Partridge) berry, Tea (Spice) berry, Mountain Tea; Black (Cherry, Mahogany, Sweet, Spice) Birch, Mountain Mahogany; Methyl, Salicyl., Oleum Gaultheriae, U.S.P. 1900, Oil of Wintergreen; Oleum Betulae, U.S.P. 1900, Oil of Sweet Birch, Oil of Teaberry; Fr. Salicylate de Methyle; Ger. Kunstliches Wintergrunol.

Gaul-the'ri-a. L. Dedicated by Kalm to Dr. Gaulther, of Quebec.

Pro-cum'bens. L. Pro, forward, + cumbere, to lie, lying down -- i.e., the reclining habit of the stem.

Bet'u-la. L. Fr. Celtic betu, the birch -- i.e., its original name.

Len'ta. L. Lentus, soft, pliant, flexible -- i.e., its stems and branches.

Plants

Gaultheria procumbens, stems slender, creeping on or below the surface, branches ascending, leafy at summit, 5-15 Cm. (2-6') high; leaves obovate, alternate, evergreen, spicy, mucronate, serrate; flowers, June-Sept., few, white, nodding, mostly single in the axils; fruit (formed of calyx) bright red berries (capsules), 5-celled, spicy, aromatic; Betula lenta--Betulaceae, tree 12-24 M. (40-80 degrees) high, .6-1 M. (2-3 degrees) thick; bark dark brown, close, smooth, sweet aromatic; leaves 7.5-10 Cm. (3-4') long, 2.5-5 Cm. (1-2') broad, ovate, acuminate, serrate, petiolate; flowers, staminate (catkins) and pistillate; bark not separable into layers, cambium when wounded in the spring, exudes sweet, acid, edible juice; wood reddish, strong, compact.

Constituents

Methyl Salicylate (Volatile oil), resin, tannin 3-6 p.c., gaultherin, betulin.

Methylis Salicylas. Methyl Salicylate, CH(OH)COCH or CHCHO. -- While this constitutes 98 p.c. of the commercial oils of gaultheria and betula, it is obtained largely synthetically by distilling salicylic acid, or a salicylate, with methyl alcohol and sulphuric acid (abstracting water as eliminated), the methyl salicylate distilling over and floating on the surface -- HCHO + CHOH + HSO = CHCHO + HO + HSO. It is a colorless, yellowish, reddish liquid, characteristic odor and taste of gaultheria, soluble in 70 p.c. alcohol (7); with not more than slight cloudiness, slightly in water, miscible with alcohol and glacial acetic acid; alcoholic solution neutral, slightly acid, sp. gr. 1.183 (synthetic), 1.177 (from gaultheria or betula); boils at 221 degrees C. (430 degrees F.); optically inactive (synthetic and betula), slightly levorotatory (gaultheria); contains 98 p.c. of methyl salicylate. Tests: 1. Shake a drop with 5 cc. of distilled water, + a drop of ferric chloride T.S.--deep violet color. 2. Agitated 1 cc. with potassium hydroxide T.S. 10 cc. -- clear, slightly cloudy, colorless or faintly yellowish, without separation of oily drops (abs. of other volatile oils, petroleum products). Impurities: Heavy metals, volatile oils, petroleum products. The label must indicate definitely its specific source. Should be kept cool, in well-stoppered, amber-colored bottles. Dose, mj-10 (.06-.6 cc.).

Preparations

1. Emulsum Olei Morrhuae, 2/5 p.c. 2. Fluidextractum Cascarae Sagradae Aromaticum, 1/50 p.c. 3. Syrupus Sarsaparillae Compositus, 1/50 p.c. 4. Cataplasma Kaolini, N.F., 1/5 p.c. 5. Dentifricium, N.F., 875/1000 p.c. 6. Inunctum Mentholis Compositum, N.F., 10 p.c. 7. Liquor Antisepticus, N.F., 12/100 p.c. 8. Liquor Antisepticus Alkalinus, N.F., 1/20 p.c. 9. Liquor Ferri Salicylatis, N.F., 1/5 p.c. 10. Liquor Pepsini Antisepticus, N.F., 1/20 p.c. 11. Nebula Aromatica, N.F., p.c. 12. Nebula Mentholis Composita, N.F., p.c. 13. Odontalgicum, N.F., 45 p.c. 14. Petroxolinum Methylis Sallicylatis, N.F., 20 cc. in 100 cc. product. 15.Syrupus Trifolii Compositus, N.F., 1/50 p.c. 16. Trochisci Ulmi, N.F. 1/88 p.c.

Unoff. Preps.: Oil of Gaultheria (Br.), mj-10 (.06-.6 cc.). Spirit, 5 p.c., 3j-2 (4-8 cc.).

Properties And Uses

Similar to salicylic acid: Antiseptic analgesic, stimulant, carminative, flavoring; muscular rheumatism, lumbago, sciatica; locally applied upon lint over swollen joints, acute articular rheumatism, tic douloureux, etc. Amount may be increased, if no impairment of digestion, until full effect produced.

Poisoning

Large quantities produce drowsiness, cerebral congestion, delirium, gastric irritability, vomiting, purging, intestinal pain, rapid pulse, hot dry skin, difficult breathing; give diffusible stimulants--ether, alcohol, ammonia, etc.

Gaultheria (Leaves), U.S.P. 1820-1880; Oleum Gaultheriae, U.S.P. 1820-1900;Oleum Betulae (Volatile), U.S.P. 1890-1900.