Willow trees are temperate and arctic region plants that grow as trees, shrubs and groundcovers. Willow bark comes from these willow trees that has many therapeutic benefits. As a strong alternative to the life saver drug Aspirin
, willow bark marks its benefits to great extents. Willow trees grow all over the world except Australia and Antarctica, and are found as different species namely white willow, black willow, purple willow, crack willow and weeping willow. Each of which bark has therapeutic effects but white willow tops the list.
This ‘Nature’s Aspirin’ dates back to centuries in usage and was used greatly in ancient China and Europe for treatment of pain, inflammations and fever. In fact, aspirin drug was developed only after the compound ‘salicin’ was discovered from willow bark that is responsible for its medicinal benefits. Salicin is the pain relieving and anti inflammation chemical compound found in willow bark.
Availability and Dosage
Willow bark is available as raw bark, powder, liquid extract, capsule or tablet form for consumption. Generally a dose of 1-3 g of raw dried bark which contains about 60-120mg of salicin is recommended twice a day for pain relief. Standardized willow extract contains 15% salicin in the form of capsules. Willow tincture is advised as 4-6 ml three times a day. Different dosage is prescribed according to age and medical condition.
Health Benefits of Willow Bark
- Helps in Lower Back Pain: Studies have confirmed that salicin helps relieve lower back pain. Dose ranges from 60-240 mg of standard salicin per day according to the intensity of pain and discomfort.
- Reduces Migraine: White willow bark has a long lasting effect on headache and migraine, salicin reduces tension in blood vessels that cause headache and soothes the pain. A cup of white willow tea regularly can help relieve pain and stress.
- Prevents Heart Attack: A regular dose of willow bark or simply drinking a cup of willow tea twice a day reduces the risk of internal blood clotting in vessels thereby preventing heart attack and that too with fewer side effects than aspirin.
- Cures Fever: Willow bark is used traditionally since ages to cure fever and cold. White willow tea 2-3 times a day is useful in treating mild fever, cold and flu.
- Helps Ease Menstrual Cramps: The pain relief property of willow bark helps in alleviating pain during menstruation. It regulates the prostaglandin production and reduces the inflammation in uterine wall that relaxes the muscles and lessens the pain. It is also helpful in reducing the pain in legs, back and headache caused during menses. Just make a white willow tea mixed with honey and lime to ease your menstrual periods.
- Soothes Toothache: Willow bark has anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity that helps in relieving toothache. Applying a paste of willow bark powder at the pain site or gargling with willow bark tea or willow tincture reduces inflammation in gums and lessens pain.
- Relieves Pain and Inflammation: Salicin is considered to be a probable treatment for curing arthritis and osteoarthritis. As swelling in joints and muscles is the sole reason for such heightened pain in arthritis, willow bark, with its anti-inflammatory action, can potentially reduce the pain and discomfort caused during arthritis and other conditions.
- Promotes Weight Loss: White willow bark enhances the activity of other supplemental ingredients and increases body metabolism that promotes weight loss. Many weight loss supplements are mixed with white willow extracts for better results.
- Other Uses: Antioxidant nature of willow bark helps in preventing acne and skin ageing. Also, the tannins in willow bark make it anti-microbial. It is also used for treating tendonitis and bursitis.
Some Tips for Willow Bark Usage:
- People who are allergic to aspirin are advised not to take willow bark.
- If already on medication for kidney or liver disease, use of willow bark must be avoided.Pregnant and breast feeding women should not take willow bark.
- People with bleeding disorders should not take willow bark.
- Not advisable for children.
- Talk to your doctor first for possible drug interactions if you are already on any medication.
Large quantities of willow bark can cause ulceration in stomach.
Willow Bark Recipe
White Willow Bark TeaIngredients:
- 1-3 gm dried and chopped white willow bark
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp honey
- Ginger, to taste
- 2 cups water
Tip: You can even add a piece of cinnamon to enhance its flavor.
- In a pan take water, add white willow bark to it and bring it to boil.
- To the boiling decoction add ginger and let it boil for some time.
- When it is boiled enough strain it off in a cup.
- Add fresh lemon juice and honey to it.
- Relish it hot.