White Willow bark is the bark among the varieties of the willow tree. Its pain relieving potential has been recognized throughout history reaching back to ancient Greece and Egypt.
Willow bark has been considered nature’s aspirin because of Salicin, the active ingredient in willow bark that has been used to develop aspirin. Luckily, by using white willow you can reap all the benefits of aspirin without the side effects.
Botanical Source Name and Family of White Willow
White willow is known botanically as Salix alba. It belongs to the Salicaceae or Willow family and is often referred to as Bay Willow, Pussy Willow, European Willow Bark and Willow Bark.
What Is White Willow?
Best known as the source that led to the discovery of aspirin, White willow is a tree that is native to Asia and Europe. The undersurface of the leaves of this tree has a white color, giving it this name. White willow has been used to make gunpowder, tan leather, baskets and cricket bats.
White willow has been used for over 5,000 years as a very effective pain relief remedy. The ancient Egyptians used this bark to treat pain and inflammation. Hippocrates even recommended it as a remedy for gout and joint related diseases.
Native American healers also relied on white willow bark for its analgesic properties. It is now even used for its weight loss capabilities.
Active Ingredients Found in White Willow
White willow contains salicin — a compound related to aspirin and flavonoids. White willow also contains the following nutrients:
- Vitamin C
- B vitamins
White willow also contains apigenin, catechin, beta-carotene, salicylic acid and salicin.
Health Benefits of White Willow
White willow has been used since the times of Hippocrates to reduce fever and pain. It has been considered a painkiller and anti-inflammatory agent to treat the following conditions:
- Muscle pain
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Heart health
- Menstrual cramps
- Skin health
- Ankylosing spondylitis
Research shows this herb to be having benefits for weight loss, too.
How to Use White Willow
White willow is available in the form of the dried herb, powder and a tincture. The dried herb or powder can be made into a tea by infusing 1 to 2 teaspoons of either or into a pot of boiling water and drinking it three times a day.
The suggested dosage of the white willow tincture is 20 to 40 drops a day or as recommended by a herbal practitioner.
Side Effects of White Willow
Even though white willow proposes a variety of benefits that can help alleviate pain, if consumed incorrectly, this pain reliever can become a pain inducer. White willow can cause problems with digestion, allergic reaction, itching and rash.
It must not be used by nursing mothers and those with ulcers. It may lead to Reye’s syndrome in children and is not recommended for use. Persons with a history of bleeding disorders are at higher risk of bleeding when taking White willow. Make sure to speak to your primary care physician to see if it’s beneficial for you.
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Mahdi JG. Medicinal potential of willow: A chemical perspective of aspirin discovery. Journal of Saudi Chemical Society. July 2010: 14(3); 317-322