White Willow Park – Herbs For Alternative Medicine


The white willow can be found next to rivers and streams throughout the country. The leaves contain salicylic acid, which has been synthesized into acetylsalicylic acid, known as aspirin, which has been used for centuries worldwide as a pain reliever. Willow bark contains other compounds that the body metabolizes to salicylic acid.

For this reason willow bark acts more slowly and over a longer period of time than aspirin does. The compound salicin from willow does not cause gastric or intestinal upset or bleeding as aspirin can. This is because willow suppresses the action of prostaglandins (hormone-like substances) in the stomach or intestines, which are produced by the body in response to injuries.

Claims and Common Uses:

  • Excellent aspirin substitute -has effective pain relieving and fever lowering properties
  • Effective in the treatment of gout, minor muscle strains, menstrual cramps, headache, and toothache
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Relieves swollen joints due to rheumatism and arthritis.
  • Used topically for sores and burns, pain and inflammation of arthritis

Part Used: The best source is the mature bark, either fresh or dried.

Preparations: Available as dried bark, tincture, tea, and capsules.

As a tea: Steep 1 to 2 tsp. of powdered bark in 1 cup boiling water for eight hours; strain. Drink up to 3 cups a day. The bitter taste can be improved by mixing with honey and lemon or another herbal tea.

Side Effects and Warnings of White Willow:

  • Upset stomach, nausea, or ringing in the ears may result. Lower the dosage or stop using white willow; call your doctor if symptoms persist.
  • Children under the age of 16 should not use white willow if they have a cold, influenza, or other viral illness. Using salicylates may cause Reye’s syndrome, a potentially fatal condition.
  • Individuals with ulcers or other stomach problems should use white willow with caution, because it can worsen stomach ills.
  • Do not mix white willow with other salicylates, such as aspirin or wintergreen oil, because of the potential for additive side effects.
  • May interfere with absorption of iron and other minerals when taken internally