LATIN NAME: Salix alba
ORIGIN: native to Europe and western and central Asia
HABITAT: It grows along the banks of rivers, ponds, on dams, along roads and near habitation in populated areas; often forms quite large groves, stretching along the rivers for many kilometers.
BOTANICAL INFORMATION: The tree is 20-30 m high, with a wide-rounded, often weeping crown, and with a powerful trunk up to 3 m in diameter (often several trunks), covered with a dark gray deeply cracked bark (bitter taste). The lower branches often incline to the ground.
The buds are lanceolate, reddish-yellow, silky, oblate, sharp, 6 mm long, about 1.5 mm wide. Leaves are alternate, narrow-lanceolate or lanceolate, serratulate or entire (edges not curved downwards), with pointed top, 5-15 cm long, 1-3 cm wide.
The flowers are collected in cylindrical, rather thick catkins 3-5 cm long. Fruits are boxes 4-6 mm in length. Seeds ripen in May-June.
CHEMICAL COMPOSITION: Willow bark contains the salicin glycoside (up to 7%), tannins (up to 11.5%), resins, flavonoids, ascorbic acid and other substances. Branches and leaves ascorbic acid, protein, fat, 25% fiber.
PHARMACOLOGICAL ACTIONS, HEALTH BENEFITS AND INDICATIONS FOR USE
Due to active components, especially salicin, white willow preparations have the following effects on the body:
Health benefits of the white willow:
- acts a lot like aspirin
- strengthens blood clotting
- reduces fever
- eliminates pain
- lowers inflammation
- treats migraines
- soothes the stomach
- heals the skin
- helps with weight loss
- protects oral health
Indications for use:
White willow is effective for such diseases of the muscles and joints as muscle pain, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatism, osteoarthritis, gout, ankylosing spondylitis (disease of the spine), tendinitis, and others.
The bark of white willow effectively treats such diseases of the digestive system as chronic diarrhea, catarrh of the stomach, colitis, dysentery, internal bleeding, gastritis, inflammation of the intestines, hemorrhoids, gas, heart burn, and others.
The tree promotes treatment for such skin diseases as fungal foot diseases that cause sweating, wounds, boils, and others.
It is also helpful for different CNS diseases such as headache, neurosis, neuralgia, and others.
This tree copes as well with diseases of the blood and circulatory system such as varicose veins, hypotension (low blood pressure), extrasystole, angina, and others.
White willow provides cure for such diseases of the respiratory system as tuberculosis, bronchitis, tonsillitis, fever, common cold, flu and others.
The tree of white willow is a good remedy for such diseases of the mouth cavity as stomatitis, periodontal disease, gingivitis, and others.
If you have some hair problems as hair loss and dandruff, you can rinse the hair with white willow decoction.
In addition, white willow tree is effective when having menstrual cramps, spleen ailments, inflammation of the urinary system, prostatitis and is a perfect remedy for weight loss.
POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS AND SAFETY
When you have been overdosed, white willow can become the reason of stomach upset and digestive system upset. Undesirable effects can include as well itching, rash, and allergic reactions, particularly in people allergic to aspirin.
Pregnancy: There is no sufficient information about consuming white willow during this period. Stay on the safe side.
Breast-feeding: White willow bark can harm the baby, because of the contained chemicals. Don’t take it if you are a nursing mother.
Children: There is an issue that it is unsafe for children to take aspirin when having such viral infectious as cold and flu, as it can enlarge the chance of having Reye’s syndrome (acute liver failure and encephalopathy). As white willow bark acts a lot like aspirin, its consumption by children can be dangerous and risky.
Bleeding disorders: White willow may strengthen the chance of bleeding.
Kidney diseases: Willow bark can lessen blood circulation through the kidneys. It can cause kidney failure.
Sensitivity to aspirin: People are responsive to aspirin when having:
- stomach ulcers
- kidney or liver diseases
Willow bark contains chemicals similar to aspirin. In this case, consumption of willow bark can lead to severe allergic reactions.
Surgery: White willow bark can reduce blood clotting. It possibly can lead to increased bleeding throughout and after the surgery. Put an end to the consumption of white willow bark no less than 14 days prior to the surgery.
WHITE WILLOW HEALTH RECIPES
Decoction with antipyretic action: Add 1 tablespoon of white willow chopped bark to 200 ml of boiling water, simmer for 20 minutes, then cool and strain. Take 1 tablespoon 3 times a day.
Decoction for headache, fever and rheumatism: Add 2-3 gr of crushed bark to 200 ml of water, boil for 10 minutes, then strain. Take the decoction 3 times a day before meals.
Infusion from white willow inflorescences when having uterus spasms: Add 5 gr of catkins to 200 ml of boiling water, infuse for 10 minutes and strain. Take 3 times a day when having exacerbation of spasms.
Tincture for arrhythmia and tachycardia: Pour 500 ml of vodka over 100 gr of inflorescences, infuse for 3 weeks in a dark place, shaking daily. When ready, take 30-35 drops of tincture 4 times a day just before meals, previously diluted the drops with 1 tablespoon of water.
The results of experimental pharmacological studies showed antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic activity of extracts and tinctures from white willow bark.
Major Interaction with Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs):
White willow bark can reduce blood clotting. Parallel consumption of white willow bark and such Anticoagulant medications as aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others can strengthen the risks of bruising and bleeding.
Moderate Interaction with Aspirin:
White willow bark acts a lot like aspirin. Simultaneous taking of white willow bark and aspirin can strengthen the effectiveness as well as undersible effects of aspirin.
Moderate Interaction with Choline Magnesium Trisalicylate (Trilisate):
White willow bark includes substances that are almost identical to choline magnesium trisalicylate (Trilisate). Contemporary using of white willow bark and choline magnesium trisalicylate (Trilisate) can strengthen the effectiveness as well as undesirable effects of choline magnesium trisalicylate (Trilisate).
Moderate Interaction with Salsalate (Disalcid):
Salsalate’s (Disalcid’s) name is a salicylate. It's close to aspirin. There is a salicylate in the white willow bark as well. Consumption of the salsalate (Disalcid) together with white willow bark can strengthen the effectiveness as well as undesirable effects of salsalate (Disalcid).
“Sometimes the right path is not the easiest one”
Grandmother Willow (Pocahontas)
*This article is for informational purposes only. We suggest consulting with a physician before using these or any other herbal supplements.