Willow’s active chemical constituent – salicin – was identified in 1829 by the French pharmacist H Leroux. Whilst this chemical is a powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic, studies show several other components of Willow bark (including polyphenols and flavonoids), have antioxidant, fever reducing, antiseptic and immune boosting properties. Some studies show that this plant is as effective as aspirin for reducing pain and inflammation at much lower doses.
It has been shown to relieve headaches and is less likely to cause gastrointestinal side effects than synthesised pain relievers such as ibuprofen. Those who suffer from chronic and/or recurring headaches are strongly advised to seek help from their healthcare professional. In a well designed study of 200 people with lower back pain, those who received White Willow bark experienced a significant reduction in pain compared with those who received a placebo. Furthermore, people who received higher doses had more significant pain relief.
The active components in White Willow bark have been shown to inhibit cyclooxygenase – an enzyme responsible for inflammatory mediators like prostaglandins. Salicin will also ease the discomfort, further reducing the production of prostaglandins in the nerves and its anti-inflammatory properties help in reducing painful inflammation of the joints. It is thought that regular intake of White Willow bark will help to suppress the progression and onset of arthritis.
It is well known that low doses of aspirin are taken as a preventative as well as first aid for a heart attack as it helps to reduce the risk of internal clotting. Since the salicylates in aspirin are derived from Willow bark it stands to reason this herb has the same effect on the heart as aspirin. This means it can be effective in reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Painful menstrual cramps are usually the result of inflammation of the uterine lining and the contractions which are triggered by prostaglandins. As we know Willow bark regulates the production of prostaglandins and reduces inflammation, it will help to soothe not only cramps but other PMS symptoms. The only side effect to using this remedy could be an increase in the flow of blood due to its blood thinning effects.
Powerfully antioxidant compounds found in White Willow bark have been found to have a very positive effect on the skin. It increases the blood flow to the skin, thus providing much needed nourishment, and can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and age spots.
Folklore and history
White Willow Bark has a history of medicinal use reaching back to ancient Greece & Egypt. However the active ingredient Salicin was identified in 1829, and used to develop the drug Aspirin.
Native to Europe and Central Asia, the bark of the White Willow tree has been used for over 5,000 years as a powerful pain relief remedy. The Ancient Egyptians used this bark to treat pain and inflammation, whilst Hippocrates and Dioscorides recommended it as a remedy for gout and rheumatic joint diseases. Native American healers also relied on White Willow bark for its analgesic properties.
White Willow Bark Powder can be made into a tea, by infusing in boiling water for 10 minutes.
Suggested dosage 1-2 tsp of herbal powder per 1 cup of boiling water up to 3 x per day. Do not exceed suggested dose.
Tincture: Take 2 - 4 ml, up to 4 times per day.
Apigenin, beta-carotene, catechin, lignin, rutin, salicin, salicylic acid, tannin, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc, B-vitamins, and Vitamin C.
Do not take if pregnant or breastfeeding. Do not take if allergic to Aspirin.
If you are taking herbs such as Ginkgo and Garlic, or any Diuretics, Platelet Inhibitors, Anticoagulants or are on any medication that contains Bismuth Subsalicylates, Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS), Metoclopramide, and Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors, you should not take Willow Bark in any form.