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Safety and toxicity of Methyl salicylate

  • Author:Hubei Ocean Biotech Co,.LTd
  • Source:www.oceanchinachem.com
  • Release on :2016-06-06
Methyl salicylate (oil of wintergreen or wintergreen oil) is an organic ester naturally produced by many species of plants, particularly wintergreens. It is also synthetically produced, used as a fragrance, in foods and beverages, and in liniments.

The compound methyl salicylate was first isolated (from the plant Gaultheria procumbens) in 1843 by the French chemist Auguste André Thomas Cahours (1813–1891), who identified it as an ester of salicylic acid and methanol.

In pure form, methyl salicylate is toxic, especially when taken internally. A single teaspoon (5 ml) of methyl salicylate contains 7 g of salicylate, which is equivalent to more than twenty-three 300 mg aspirin tablets. The lowest published lethal dose is 101 mg/kg body weight in adult humans, (or 7.07 grams for a 70-kg adult). It has proven fatal to small children in doses as small as 4 ml. A seventeen-year-old cross-country runner at Notre Dame Academy on Staten Island died in April 2007 after her body absorbed methyl salicylate through excessive use of topical muscle-pain relief products.

Most instances of human toxicity due to methyl salicylate are a result of over-application of topical analgesics, especially involving children. Some people have intentionally ingested large amounts of oil of wintergreen. Salicylate, the major metabolite of methyl salicylate, may be quantitated in blood, plasma or serum to confirm a diagnosis of poisoning in hospitalized patients or to assist in an autopsy.

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