What is Willow Bark?
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 in Australia and Antarctica; and are found as different species namely white willow, black willow, purple willow, crack willow and weeping willow. Each species has its own therapeutic effects, however 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 percent 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.
- Relieves 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 a headache and soothes the pain. Drinking 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 a fever and cold. Drinking 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 is to help alleviate 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 and mix it with honey and lime to ease your menstrual periods.
- Soothes Toothache: Willow bark has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties 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 or 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 aging of the skin. Also, the tannins present in willow bark make it anti-microbial and can be 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 you are 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
- Intake of willow bark is 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 the stomach.
White Willow Bark Tea Ingredients:
- 1-3 gm dried and chopped white willow bark
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp honey
- Ginger - to taste
- 2 cups water
- 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 more time.
- When the water changes to red color, strain it off in a cup.
- Add fresh lemon juice and honey to it.
- Drink it hot.
Tip: You can even add a piece of cinnamon to enhance its flavor.
- Willow - https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-2182009
- Willow bark - https://www.versusarthritis.org/about-arthritis/complementary-and-alternative-treatments/types-of-complementary-treatments/willow-bark/
Latest Publications and Research on Health Benefits of Willow Bark
- Safety And Efficacy Of The Unique Opioid Buprenorphine For The Treatment Of Chronic Pain. - Published by PubMed
- Properties of Injection Molded Biocomposites Reinforced with Wood Particles of Short-Rotation Aspen and Willow. - Published by PubMed
- Evaluation of Salix alba, Juglans regia and Populus nigra as biomonitors of PTEs in the riparian soils of the Sava River. - Published by PubMed
- Origin of volatile organic compound emissions from subarctic tundra under global warming. - Published by PubMed
- Accumulation and effects of perfluoroalkyl substances in three hydroponically grown Salix L. species. - Published by PubMed