White willow bark, the bark obtained from the white willow tree has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for the treatment of fever and also for lowering pain. The bark contains an active ingredient known as salicin, which is converted to salicylic acid by the body. Aacetylsalicylic acid, the most important compound in aspirin, is obtained from salicylic acid. Hence white willow bark is popularly known as “Nature’s aspirin”. Salicin in white willow bark is responsible for the anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties of the herb. The bark also contains polyphenols and flavonoids that have antioxidant and immune boosting properties. Studies suggest that the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of white willow bark appears slowly but the effectiveness last longer than aspirin.
White willow bark has numerous benefits and there are scientific evidences to support this fact, which is why it has become a very popular and trusted alternative remedy for various health issues. Here are some of the important benefits of using willow bark:
- White willow bark for skin health
The high levels of antioxidants found in white willow bark can produce a positive effect on the health of your skin. These antioxidants destroy the free radicals that cause oxidative stress to cells, thus protecting your skin from damage and early aging. It helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines and other age marks. In addition to the antioxidant properties, willow bark also shows astringent, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory effects, because of which it is widely used in many personal care products cosmetics. The salicin in white willow bark acts as an excellent exfoliant. It is used in acne treatments because of its ability to penetrate deep into the skin pores, reduce the excess oil and to get rid of the dead skin cells and dirt. The phenolic acids in the bark stimulates the production of new cells and promote the rejuvenation of skin. The anti-inflammatory and anti-septic properties of white willow bark may soothe acne infected skin and prevent further infection. The anti-inflammatory effects of the bark also helps in preventing a lot of skin problems such as acne, psoriasis, rosacea and eczema. The astringent properties of the bark helps to loosen dry and scaly skin so that it can be removed easily. This helps in making the skin soft, smooth and youthful.
- White willow bark offers relief from headaches
Just like aspirin, white willow bark contains salicin, a pain relieving component that gets converted to salicylic acid after being absorbed by the body. Taking this herb has been found to be helpful in relieving the pain associated with tension and migraine headaches.
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- White willow bark lowers back pain
Studies have found that white willow bark is effective in providing relief from lower back pain. The active components in white willow bark inhibit cyclooxygenase, an enzyme responsible for the formation of inflammatory mediator like prostaglandins. In a study, about 200 people with lower back pain were given white willow bark. These participants experienced a great relief from their pain. The study also found that patients who took 240 milligrams of willow bark experienced better pain relief than those who took 120 milligrams of the herb.
- White willow bark provides relief from arthritis pain
Research suggests that white willow bark may be effective in treating pain caused by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The salicin found in the bark eases the pain and discomfort by reducing the production of certain prostaglandins in the nerves. White willow bark also shows anti-inflammatory properties that helps in lowering the inflammation. The regular intake of 240mg of white willow bark extract is considered to help suppress the progression and onset of arthritis.
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- White willow bark for preventing heart attacks
A low dose of aspirin is usually taken as a preventive as well as a first aid for heart attack as it helps in reducing the risk of internal clotting. White willow bark also shows aspirin like properties and so drinking a cup of white willow bark tea once or twice a day aspirin may help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
- White willow bark reduces fever
White willow bark has been found to be effective in the treatment of fever associated with cold and flu. If you are suffering from mild fever, then taking a capsule of white willow bark twice a day or drinking a cup of willow bark tea two or three times daily may be beneficial.
- White willow bark for bursitis
Bursitis is a condition where the fluid-filled sacs located in the joints become inflamed, causing pain and swelling. White willow bark is a one of the herbal remedies often recommended for bursitis because of its anti-inflammatory effects. The active components in this herb provides relief from this condition by lowering the pain and inflammation. Taking willow bark tea twice or thrice daily is considered to be beneficial in the treatment of pain caused by bursitis.
- White willow bark offers relief from PMS
Menstrual cramps are mainly caused by contractions of the uterus induced by chemicals like prostaglandins. It may also be caused by the inflammation of the lining of the uterus. According to studies, the active components of white willow bark may be helpful in relieving PMS symptoms and menstrual cramps by reducing inflammation and by regulating the production of prostaglandins. To get relief from PMS, simply drink a cup of willow bark tea two to three times a day just before the start of menstrual cycle.
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- White willow bark may help with toothaches
Salicin, the active ingredient found in white willow bark is very well known for its pain relieving properties. This herb is therefore beneficial in soothing various types of pains including toothaches. Chewing on a piece of the bark is found to be effective in providing fast relief from toothaches.
- White willow bark may have anti-cancer properties
According to laboratory studies, the active ingredients in white willow bark may have anti-cancer properties and may inhibit or even prevent the growth of tumor cells. A study published in “Cancer Detection and Prevention” states that an extract obtained from willow bark inhibited the division of lung cancer and colon cancer cells and eventually induced the death of cancer cells.
- White willow barks aids weight loss
White willow bark is one of the natural herbal remedies many people use for helping them lose weight. Although there is no evidence linking willow bark directly to weight loss, it has been found to boost up the action of other substances that are intended to burn fat and increase metabolism.
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How to make white willow tea
Ingredients: Dried white willow bark – 2-3 grams, Water – 2 cups, Honey – 1 tbsp, Lemon juice – 2 tbsp, Ginger – a small piece
Method: Add white willow bark in a pan of water and boil it. Then add ginger and allow to boil for some more time. After a few minutes switch off the stove and strain the tea. Add honey and lemon juice for flavor and drink hot.
White willow bark has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years, for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. It is available in the form of capsule, tablet, powder, and liquid. Since white willow bark contains similar chemical properties as that of aspirin, it is widely used as an alternative to aspirin and various other pain-relievers. While aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may cause side effects such as stomach irritation, white willow bark does not and this is one of the reasons people prefer to use it as an alternative to aspirin.