White Willow Bark
The white willow tree (salix alba) is native to Europe and Asia. Its leaves are ashy-gray in color and are covered (mostly the underside) with fine silky white hairs. This gives the tree a paler look than most other willows.
The bark of the white willow has been used medicinally for thousands of years. People would chew on it to reduce inflammation and fever. Constituents include tannins, salicin, glycosides, and flavonoids.
Benefits of White Willow Bark
White willow bark is called the “grandmother” of aspirin. Its active ingredient, salicin, was isolated by a German scientist in 1828. In 1899, a modified form of salicin (acetylsalicylic acid, or aspirin) was manufactured by Bayer.
It is as effective as aspirin when treating inflammation. However, unlike aspirin, it does not normally cause upset stomach or increase the risk of bleeding.
White willow bark is used to treat a number of problems, including osteoarthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, low back pain, menstrual cramps, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, and fever.
White willow bark should not be used by those who are allergic to aspirin.
Children under the age of 16 should not be given this herb because of concerns about Reye syndrome.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take.
If you have a medical condition or taking medications, consult with your health care provider before taking white willow bark.
To get the benefits of white willow bark, you can prepare a cup of tea:
- Add 1-2 teaspoons of dried bark to 8 ounces of water, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Cover, steep for 30 minutes, and strain.
White willow bark is also available in capsules and tinctures.
If you do not wish to swallow capsules, you can blend the powder (inside the capsule) with 1 teaspoon of honey and take.
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