Methyl Salicylate

Methyl salicylate is an organic compound present mainly in Wintergreen oil obtained from Gaultheria procumbens. It is also found in the essential oils of Cassie absolute, Betula, Tea tree and all plant species belonging to the Genera spiraea, Polygala, etc.

It is an ester of menthol and salicylic acid with the chemical formula C8H8O3. It is also known by other names such as Wintergreen oil, Betula oil, Sweet Birch oil, Gaultheria oil, Tea berry oil and so on.

Attributes of Methyl Salicylate:

Methyl salicylate appears as a colorless to yellowish or reddish liquid, which is clear and viscous in nature. It is characterised by the refreshing sweet wintergreen minty aroma. It possesses the similar taste as that of Wintergreen.

Flavoring agent:

According to FEMA (Flavor & Extracts Manufactures Association), the flavor of Methyl salicylate is described as “Almond, Caramel, Peppermint, Sharp” flavor. It is used for its flavor in foods, chewing gums and beverages.


Methyl salicylate is used for its distinctive and appealing fragrance in perfumery.

Cosmetic uses:

It is used in manufacturing extensive range of cosmetics as Denaturants, Masking agents, comforting agents and aromatising ingredient, attributes to its aroma.

Therapeutic attributes of Methyl Salicylate:

The most significant qualities of Methyl Salicylate are as follows:


Methyl salicylate serves as an analgesic to relieve pain in joint and muscles.  According to the study ‘Involvement of Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid Subtype 1 in Analgesic Action of Methyl salicylate’, it was found that Methyl salicylate inhibits human transient receptor potential vanilloid subtype1 (TRVP1) and this inhibitory property of methyl salicylate may partly contribute to the analgesic effect of Methyl salicylate.

It is a counterirritant that relieves the pain by first cooling and then warming the skin. These alternate feelings divert the feeling of pain in muscles, joints and bones.


Methyl Salicylate used in the topical application is one of the medicinal rubefacient that redden the skin by dilating the blood capillaries and thus increasing the blood circulation naturally. It is used in the treatment of acute or chronic pain in joints and muscles, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.


Methyl Salicylate exhibits excellent antiseptic property. It is one of the active ingredients in the drugs used in the prevention and reduction of bad breath, gingivitis and plaque, particularly in Listerine.


Methyl salicylate shows anti-inflammatory activity. This is witnessed by the book ‘Aspirin and the salicylates’. When methyl salicylate cataplasm is tied to the rat paws, it produces anti-inflammatory activity existing for 72 hours after its topical application.


Methyl salicylate obtained from tea tree leaf oil exhibited antifungal activity towards Colletorichum camelliae Massea. This is evident from the study ‘Antifungal activities of major tea leaf volatile constituents toward Colletorichum camelliae Massea.’

Reference Links:

  1. Methyl Salicylate by Wikipedia
  2. Methyl Salicylate by PubChem
  3. Involvement of Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid Subtype 1 in Analgesic Action of Methyl salicylate
  4. Aspirin and the salicylates by K.D. Rainsford-Page. No-78
  5. Antifungal activities of major tea leaf volatile constituents toward Colletorichum camelliae Massea.