Benefits Of Willow Bark For Health

Benefits Of Willow Bark For Health


Willow Bark


Scientific name: Willow

Willow bark is the bark from several varieties of the willow tree, including white willow or European willow, black willow or pussy willow, crack willow, purple willow, basket willow, bay willow, brittle willow, populin, salicin, salicortin, salicoylsalicin, salicyl alcohol, salicylate, saligenin, salipurposide, Salix alba, Salix daphnoides, Salix fragilis L., Salix pentandra, Salix purpurea, white willow bark, willow tree, willowprin...

Family: Herbal medicine of the willow (Salicaceae) family.

Native to North America, northern Asia, and much of Africa, the willow is a low-growing deciduous tree bearing long, green, tapering leaves and catkins in spring. Some of the more commonly known species are white willow/European willow (Salix alba), black willow/pussy willow (Salix nigra), crack willow (Salix fragilis), purple willow (Salix purpurea), and weeping willow (Salix babylonica). Not all willow species accumulate a therapeutically sufficient amount of salicin. In one study, the amount of salicin after 1 and 2 year growth in autumn and spring ranged from 0.08 - 12.6%. The willow bark sold in Europe and the United States usually includes a combination of the bark from white, purple, and crack willows.

Benefits Of Willow Bark For Health
Willow Tree Picture

Willow Bark is the outer shell of the Willow tree. It has been consumed medicinally by ancient Greek and Egyptian physicians for centuries. It was not until 1829 when scientists discovered its active ingredient salicin which has similar health effects as acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin), that the medicinal use of Willow Bark in ancient times was substantiated. It also contains tannins, glycosides, catechins and flavonoids.

Willow bark has been used throughout the centuries in China and Europe, and continues to be used today for the treatment of pain (particularly low back pain and osteoarthritis), headache, and inflammatory conditions, such as bursitis and tendinitis. Now, willow bark acts a lot like aspirin, so it is used for pain, including headache, muscle pain, menstrual cramps, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis, gout, and a disease of the spine called ankylosing spondylitis.

The bark of some species of Salix trees has been used for treating inflammatory and arthritis-related conditions since ancient times. Extracts from the following species of Salix trees have been used as sources of willow:
  • Salix purpurea (purple willow)
  • Salix fragilis (crack willow)
  • Salix alba (white willow)
  • Salix daphnoides (violet willow)
  • Salix pentandra (bay willow).

Benefits Of Willow Bark For Health


Willow bark is used to ease pain and reduce inflammation. Researchers believe that the chemical salicin, found in willow bark, is responsible for these effects. However, studies show several other components of willow bark, including plant chemicals called polyphenols and flavonoids, have antioxidant, fever reducing, antiseptic, and immune boosting properties. Some studies show willow is as effective as aspirin for reducing pain and inflammation (but not fever), and at a much lower dose. Scientists think that may be due to other compounds in the herb. More research is needed.


Fever


White Willow Bark has long been used in the treatment of fever associated with cold and flu. Taking one capsule of Willow Bark twice daily may help with mild fevers related to cold and flu. Or drinking one cup of Willow Bark tea 2-3 times daily may be beneficial.

Headache


Willow bark has been shown to relieve headaches. There is some evidence that it is less likely to cause gastrointestinal side effects than other pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (Advil) and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, do. However, studies have not shown this beyond all doubt, and people who are prone to stomach upset may want to avoid willow bark. Large-scale studies are needed to fully determine how safe and effective willow bark is for chronic or recurring headaches.

Benefits Of Willow Bark For Health
Willow Bark

Toothache


The anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity of Willow Bark may help with toothache. Simply, chew on a small piece of White Willow Bark or rub its powder on to the affected area. Drinking Willow Bark tea may add to the effectiveness of the herb. For inflamed gums gargling with Willow Bark tea every night before going to bed may be beneficial.

Low back pain


Willow bark appears to be effective for back pain. In a well-designed study of nearly 200 people with low back pain, those who received willow bark experienced a significant improvement in pain compared to those who received placebo. People who received higher doses of willow bark (240 mg salicin) had more significant pain relief than those who received low doses (120 mg salicin).

Osteoarthritis


Several studies show that willow is more effective at reducing pain from osteoarthritis than placebo. In a small study of people with osteoarthritis of the neck or lower back, those who received willow bark experienced significant improvement in symptoms compared to those who received placebo. A similar study of 78 patients hospitalized with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip joint found that patients who received willow bark had significant pain relief compared to those who received placebo.

PSM and Menstrual


Menstrual Cramps are usually caused by the inflammation of uterine lining and contractions induced by a hormone like chemical prostaglandins. Studies suggest that natural components of Willow Bark may help with Menstrual Cramps and PMS symptoms by regulating the production of prostaglandins and reducing the inflammation. Simply drink one cup of Willow Bark tea two to three times daily starting a couple of days before the start of menstrual cycle. It may also help alleviate back ache, headache and legs pain associated with menses. To make Willow Bark tea simply soak one teaspoon of ground White Willow Bark in a cold cup of water for eight hours. Strain out the tea and add honey or sugar to minimize the bitter taste. Willow Bark can be refrigerated for no more than 48 hours since it loses its effectiveness when kept for longer hours.

Willow bark Side Effects


Willow bark is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth for a short time (up to 12 weeks).

Side effects tend to be mild. However, stomach upset, ulcers, nausea, vomiting, and stomach bleeding are potential side effects of all compounds containing salicylates. Overdoses of willow bark may cause skin rash, stomach inflammation/irritation, nausea, vomiting, kidney inflammation, and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). It may cause stomach upset and digestive system upset. It can also cause itching, rash, and allergic reactions, particularly in people allergic to aspirin.

Special Precautions & Warnings:


Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the safety of using willow bark during pregnancy. It’s best to avoid using it.

Using willow bark while breast-feeding is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. Willow bark contains chemicals that can enter breast milk and have harmful effects on the nursing infant. Don’t use it if you are breast-feeding.

Children: Willow bark is POSSIBLY UNSAFE n children when taken by mouth for viral infections such as colds and flu. There is some concern that, like aspirin, it might increase the risk of developing Reye’s syndrome. Stay on the safe side and don’t use willow bark in children.

Bleeding disorders: Willow bark might increase the risk of bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.

Kidney disease: Willow bark might reduce blood flow through the kidneys, which might lead to kidney failure in certain people. If you have kidney disease, don’t use willow bark.

Sensitivity to aspirin: People with ASTHMA, STOMACH ULCERS, DIABETES, GOUT, HEMOPHILIA, HYPOPROTHROMBINEMIA, or KIDNEY or LIVER DISEASE might be sensitive to aspirin and also willow bark. Using willow bark might cause serious allergic reactions. Do not use the Willow bark for any use, medicinal or otherwise, without first consulting a qualified doctor.

Surgery: Willow bark might slow blood clotting. There is a concern it could cause extra bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using willow bark at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.