White Willow

Salicacea; Salix Alba

A brief History

  • Many research studies suggest that the bark of the White Willow is on of the first forms of pain killers found dating back to 400 BC throughout its land of origin in Central Asia and Europe.
  • Written entries say that Hippocrates chewed the bark himself and recommended it for birthing mothers, knowing its pain relieving ability
  • The Willow trees are wide spread through out the globe so its cultural history is vast.
  • Other known names are Weidenrinde, basket willow and crack willow
  • As a widely known folk remedy it became the main focus of study and lead to the isolation of its secondary chemicals and further study into other plants that were known to have healing properties, specifically salicylic acid.

Things to know

Aspirin before there was Aspirin

  • The most common ailments treated were back pains, headaches and birthing contractions.
  • Bark and leaves were chewed on for immediate relief
  • The bark was ground into a powder to store for later use mixed with honey when taken (it was very bitter)
  • Other uses for the bark or leaves helped reduce fever, colic, arthritis, and digestive problems.
  • Infusions would be made with other herbs or mixed with wine for added healing properties and flavor.
  • The Native Americans chewed the bark for head aches
  • Greeks found its use in treating gout, rheumatism and fever and pain as an infusion.
  • Those in Asia also used it for aches, pains and fever in various forms.

Todays Aspirin

  • The secondary chemical in the bark are what have the anti-inflammatory properties, the most active is a salicylate called salicin.
  • Salicin was isolated in 1828
  • In 1899 acetylsalicylic acid was further isolated and then synthesized into aspirin known as Bayer.
  • It has been found (and debated) that Aspirin is easier on the stomach and liver then many other anti-inflammatory on the market but still must be carefully monitored.
  • Over the years aspirin has been found to have many more health benefits.
  • In small doses over time it helps prevent heart attacks and strokes
  • Its been found to help reduce varieties of cancers and cataracts
  • Can help the immune system by warding off bacteria and viruses
  • It was a go to as a botanical remedy, and is still a go to as a modern synthetic in pill form around the globe.

Still used in botanical form

  • White Willow remedies are still used today by many who have a hard time with modern synthesized medications. The Infusions can be easier on the stomach and liver.
  • Research has found that whole bark or leaf infusions have many other chemicals that all work together that have more benefits for ailments such as back pain or fever.
  • Even when used as a holistic home remedy its strongly suggested to monitor and speak with a physician because it has such a high medicinal chemical content that overuse becomes very harmful to internal organs.
  • More research is still being out into all of the benefits and side effects of white willow and aspirin throughout many of the university medical research centers.