White willow, like other willows, is a natural source of salicin, a precursor of modern aspirin, and indeed it has been used for centuries worldwide as a pain reliever. Although all parts of the plant contain some salicin, the best source is the mature bark, either fresh or dried. Like other salicin-producing plants, white willow also reduces fever and inflammation, probably by suppressing the action of prostaglandins (hormone-like substances), which are produced by the body in response to injuries.
In addition to salicin, willow bark contains other compounds that the body metabolizes to salicylic acid. For this reason willow bark acts more slowly and over a longer period of time than aspirin does.
Taken internally for:
Applied externally for:
Over the counter:
Available as dried bark, tincture, tea and capsules.
Tea: 1 to 2 tsp. of powdered bark steeped in 1 cup boiling water for eight hours; strain. The bitter taste can be improved by mixing with honey and lemon or another herbal tea.
Do not mix white willow with other salicylates, such as aspirin or wintergreen oil, because of the potential for additive side effects.