As the name implies, willow bark is the bark of willow tree. The medicinal use of willow tree, particularly white and black willow trees dates back to 6000 years. The active ingredient salicin mimics the action of acetylsalicylic acid in aspirin and is used as an analgesic.1 It is therefore called “nature’s aspirin.”
Mentioned below are the benefits of willow bark.
Benefits Of Willow Bark
Apart from salicin, the flavonoids and polyphenols present in willow bark also promote analgesic effects. It is used as a natural alternative for lower back pain. Higher doses work more efficiently than the lower doses. A study published in the journal of Rheumatology showed a significant reduction in the lower back pain in 200 people who consumed willow bark extract, compared to those who were given a placebo. Doses as high as 240 mg 0f salicin acted efficiently than lower doses of 120 mg.
White willow bark also treats tension headaches. In case of either a headache or lower back pain, the improvement in the symptoms can be seen only after a week. The effects, however, last longer than aspirin.
2. Treats Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is effectively treated using willow bark. It has anti-inflammatory properties which act by reducing the swelling and pain. The bark also acts by preventing the onset of the disease in high-risk individuals and suppressing the progression of the disease in already affected ones. A study conducted osteoarthritis patients showed 14% reduction in pain with the consumption of 240 mg salicin.
3. Prevents Acne
Salicin present in willow bark, when acts on the skin, converts into salicylic acid. It is an active ingredient in most of the anti-acne creams. It is a natural skin exfoliant which acts by shedding the dead skin cells from the skin and cleansing the pores. This, in turn, prevents the formation of acne. It works best on mild to moderate acne by reducing lesion formation.
The anti-inflammatory and astringent properties further soothe the skin. In addition to this, the polyphenols and flavonoids which are the antioxidants prevent aging of the skin.
4. Aids Weight Loss
White willow bark in combination with ephedra and cola nut tend to induce weight loss in overweight and obese individuals. However, the safety of the combination has to be retrospected, as the usage of ephedra has been banned in the USA due to harmful side effects. Discuss with your healthcare provider before opting for this remedy.
5. Soothes Menstrual Cramps
Menstrual cramps are a result of inflammation in the uterus due to contraction. The anti-inflammatory properties soothe the cramps and the symptoms of PMS. A tea made from white willow bark is helpful in overcoming the discomfort. Care should, however, be taken to not consume this tea during the first three days of the cycle, as it increases bleeding. It is ideal for consumption only before your period sets in, when you experience PMS.
6. Calms Gastrointestinal Distress
Tannins are present in high quantities in willow bark. These soothe any kind of gastrointestinal distress caused due to illness or weakened immune system. It is important to discuss the exact amount of dosage with your doctor before the consumption.
7. Prevents Heart Attack
The American Heart Association emphasizes the importance of daily intake of low dosage aspirin. It prevents internal clotting, heart attack, and stroke. Since willow bark has similar compounds, it might have same benefits.
Though willow bark has minimal side effects, overconsumption of the same can upset your stomach. In case you have a kidney disorder, refrain from using it. In any case, discuss the dosage with your doctor before consumption.
|↑1||Vlachojannis, J., F. Magora, and S. Chrubasik. “Willow species and aspirin: different mechanism of actions.” Phytotherapy Research 25, no. 7 (2011): 1102-1104.|