How Methyl Salicylate Works

What is methyl salicylate, and does it work?

 

How Methyl Salicylate Works

You limp into the pharmacy or the shops, most staff will point you to the direction of products like Dencorub or Metsal. Both products have the same telltale smell, the smell of wintergreen oil. Wintergreen is an extract of a plant call Gaultheria procumbens, but birch trees also produce the same compound. As it is easier and cheaper to produce in the laboratory, Methyl Salicylic Acid (or Methyl salicylate) is now a synthetic product. In heat rubs, the few common friends of the wintergreen oil are capsaicin, menthol and camphor.

You can find it in liniments, creams and ointments. There are many companies that produces muscle rubs that contain wintergreen oil, but some of you may have a preferred brand.

What does it do?

Methyl salicylate has a similar structure to aspirin, which is known as salicylic acid. Hence, the compound has a slight anti- inflammatory action when you rub on the painful area. Aside from that effect, it is also a counter-irritant. It distracts your brain from the pain of injury by introducing a new irritant, once the effect wears off, you will feel the pain returning.

Even though it is generally a safe product for repeat applications, methyl salicylate can still diffuse into the body’s circulation if you apply too much or too often. While salicylate toxicity is not common, it can happen. Signs to look out for include vomiting, ringing in the ears and hyperventilating. This is different from common side effects such as a warm or burning sensation on the skin and redness. An allergy reaction is also possible, hence if you are suffering from blisters or extreme pain after applying, you may have to seek medical advice.


Most common use for the product is back pain, but feet pain are also a popular reason why you would have a tube of cream at home.

Effectiveness of Methyl Salicylate

While it is generally an effective product, it is does not have a long lasting effect. These creams are designed for muscular pains, as most of them are marketed to sooth sore muscles. It might be less effective in treating heel pains or chronic inflammatory problems such as Achilles Tendinitis. If you are sick and tired of the pain, and you want a more permanent solution for your feet ache and pains, come to us and we will help you get on the right track.