Willow Bark: Nature’s Answer To Pain

What is Willow Bark?

Willow bark, the bark of the willow tree of several varieties, has been used as a pain reliever for decades. The active ingredient in the willow bark is known as salicin.

Many people, particularly those who have chronic headaches or back pain, use willow bark as an alternative to aspirin. Willow bark is also used to aid weight loss in some foods.

It comes from two to three-year-old branches of willow trees. Except for Australia and Antarctica, willow trees and shrubs are growing all over the world. Two of the most common willows used medicinally are the white willow and black willow.

Side Effects

The willow bark does not seem to have negative side effects when taken in moderation. Salicin is converted into salicylic acid in the willow bark. Others believe this makes it on your stomach more gentle than aspirin produced by the lab. Nevertheless, too much willow bark can cause cramping of the stomach and bleeding.

Forms and dose of willow bark


You can find the willow bark in a distilled tincture form. As an anti-inflammatory and pain relief replacement for aspirin, taking a fall or two per day for pain relief (up to 2 milliliters) will work.


Willow bark can be used topically. Because it is not digestively absorbed, topical willow bark is a good alternative for those with common stomach ulcers. Please note that topical use can be serious and cause irritation of the body.


Willow bark’s active ingredient is salicin, but the accompanying flavonoids and plant particles may be part of what makes willow bark successful. Many people prefer to chew on the willow tree’s unprocessed bark for this purpose. Determining how much salicin you get from each piece of bark is difficult, so this method of consumption should be approached with caution.


Willow bark can be purchased in a powdered, encapsulated form from many health food store.


Most health food stores sell willow bark tea as an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. Steep willow tea bark in hot water for two to three minutes. It’s hard to tell how much salicin you get in every serving of tea when you drink willow bark in this form.

Potential Benefits

In a recent herbal medicine study, willow bark was found to be more effective than placebo when used on people with lower back pain. There is a need for definitive evidence comparing willow bark with conventional aspirin. Nonetheless, you might find willow bark if you’re looking for an alternative to aspirin.

It is also possible to use willow bark to alleviate menstrual cramps and bring down a fever. In the willow bark, salicin works the same way as aspirin, increasing inflammation and pain as it reaches the bloodstream. It can also be particularly effective in battling joint pain due to the anti-inflammatory properties of willow bark.

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