Willow bark, the bark of several varieties of willow tree, has been used for centuries as a pain reliever. The active ingredient in the medicine made from willow bark is called salicin.
Some people use willow bark as an alternative to aspirin, particularly those that experience chronic headaches or back pain. Willow bark is also used in some products to aid weight loss.
It comes from the branches of 2- to 3-year-old willow trees. Willow trees and shrubs grow all over the world, except for Australia and Antarctica. The white willow and black willow are two of the most common willows that are used medicinally.
When taken in moderation, willow bark does not appear to have negative side effects. The salicin in willow bark converts to salicylic acid. Some believe that this makes it gentler on your stomach than lab-created aspirin. Too much willow bark, however, can cause stomach cramping and bleeding.
Willow bark can be purchased from many drugstores and almost any health food store in a powdered, encapsulated form. The recommended dose for pain relief is 240 milligrams a day.
The active ingredient in willow bark is salicin, but the accompanying flavonoids and plant particles might be part of what make willow bark effective. For this reason, some people prefer to actually chew on the unprocessed bark of the willow tree. It is difficult to determine how much salicin you are getting from each piece of bark, so this method of consumption should be approached with caution.
Willow bark can also be found in a distilled tincture form. Taking a drop or two per day for pain relief (up to 2 milliliters) can work as an anti-inflammatory and pain relief substitute for aspirin.
Some health food stores sell willow bark tea, advertising it as a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory. Steep willow bark tea for