White Willow

Scientific Name/Common Name: Salix alba / White willow

Part(s) Used: Bark

Constituents/Active Ingredients: Phenolic glycosides; salicin, picein, and triandrin, with esters of salicylic acid and salicyl alcohol, acetylated salicin, salicortin, and salireposide. Miscellaneous; tannins, catechin, p-coumaric acid, and flavonoids.

Overview: White willow, Salix alba L. [Fam. Salicaceae], also known as European willow, is a tree recognized for its medicinal bark containing natural ‘aspirin’ or salicin. The bark taken from the branches has pain-relieving (analgesic) and anti-inflammatory properties. This tree was the original source of acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) products like Aspirin®. First Nations people of North America and Chinese physicians have been using this herb for thousands of years to relieve pain, fever, and inflammation in the body. White willow bark contains salicin, which is converted to salicylic acid in the body. Salicylic acid reduces pain by blocking the production of inflammatory prostaglandins. White willow bark extract is gentler on the stomach and does not have the same blood thinning properties as the structurally different ASA. It is slower acting but longer lasting than ASA in its effects as well.

 

Traditional Use/Benefits/Body Systems: Used in Herbal Medicine for short-term relief of low back pain, relief of minor joint pain, to relieve fever associated with the common cold and to relieve headache pain. Analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and fever reducing.

Clinical Studies/Scientific Research/References:

Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J, editors. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton (MA): Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.

Wichtl M, editor. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals: A Handbook for Practice on a Scientific Basis. 3rd edition. Stuttgart (DE): Medpharm Scientific Publishers; 2004.

Gagnier JJ, van Tulder M, Berman B, Bombardier C. Herbal medicine for low back pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006 Apr 19;(2):CD004504.

 

Disclaimer: This information in our Herbal Encyclopedia is intended only as a general reference for educational purposes. It is not a replacement for medical advice. This content does not provide dosage information, cautions/contraindications, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Please consult any relevant product labels for detailed information on use and with a medical practitioner for individual health advice.