White Willow (Salix spp.) has been responsible for pain relief for thousands of years and is probably in some form in your medicine cabinet right now. The popular pain reliever aspirin was derived from salicin, found in the bark of this tree. White willow bark is mentioned in ancient Egyptian, Assyrian, and Greek medical writings as a pain reliever of the great early physicians.
Medicinal Uses of White Willow
Willow works like aspirin. It is also used to cleanse and heal eyes that are infected or inflamed. It treats headache, muscle pain, chronic pain, menstrual cramps, arthritis, and to bring down a fever. It is very useful with ankylosing spondylitis, diarrhea, worms, dysentery, heart disease, angina, flu, colds, any inflammations, sprains, toothaches, gout, neuralgia, and earaches. Active constituents in this plant help to prevent blood clots. It is safe to use, and is mild on the stomach and leaves no after-effects. Willow is used in Bach therapies to treat those who are disappointed or offended. Add an infusion to your bath water as a useful soak for arthritis and muscle pain.
Parts used: bark
Actions: anodyne, alterative, febrifuge, astringent, anti-periodic, vermifuge, sedative, tonic, antiseptic
Contraindications: not for continual long-term use, breaks are needed just like with aspirin. Do not use if you are allergic to aspirin, and do not give to children under the age of 16 if they have a cold, influenza, or other viral illness. Do not use when nursing.
Spiritual Uses of White Willow
Willow trees are planted near the home as a guard. Its branches have been used for the bindings on a witch's broom, and as healing wands and dowsing tools. It is also used to bring the blessings of the moon and her goddesses into your life, and is a symbol of immortality and protection. Willows are mentioned in the Bible, and are used in various religious festivals from many cultures around the world.
Growing White Willow
Willows prefer damp, low spaces, as along rivers and streams, or areas that receive regular water. They grow throughout North America, Europe, and many other areas. Various species can grow to 70 feet or more. They can easily be propagated through cuttings. The bark is harvested in the spring or early autumn from 3 - 6 year old branches and is dried for later use.
The Herbal Encyclopedia - A Practical Guide to the Many Uses of Herbs by Rev. Dr. Lisa Waltz, ND, DD; available in electronic form only from EarthNow.org
The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook by Dr. James A. Duke
The Green Pharmacy by Dr. James A. Duke
Herbs of the Bible - 2000 Years of Plant Medicine by James A. Duke, PhD.
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Natural Remedies by C. Norman Shealy, MD, PhD
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants by Andrew Chevalier
Prescription for Nutritional Healing by James F. and Phyllis A. Balch
Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham
A Compendium of Herbal Magick by Paul Beryl
About the AuthorI am a nationally certified Naturopathic Doctor, certified by the American Naturopathic Medical Certification & Accreditation Board of Washington, DC., and a member of the ANMA (American Naturopathic Medical Association). I work towards teaching people preventative natural medicine and proper nutrition, while treating what ails them - an ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure, especially in today's world. I have been working with medicinal herbs for over 16 years. I own and operate the Natural Wellness Center, a clinic for everyone, free of discrimination.