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The White Willow Bark – An Effective ‘Herbal Aspirin’

Updated on October 9, 2014

The white willow bark has been touted as an efficient herbal aspirin; what’s more, it does not have the drugs harmful side effects.

What is the White Willow Bark?

The white willow is a stately tree which grows 23 meters tall. The plant’s active element –salicin was isolated by German and French scientists. All parts of the tree contain salicin; however, its concentration is maximum in the bark. The bark is collected in early spring of trees that are 2 – 5 years old.

White willow is the most popular species for medicinal uses; however, purple willow, violet willow and crack willow also have large amounts of salicin.

How Does The White Willow Bark Act As A Pain Killer?

  • The white willow helps allay acute as well as chronic pains successfully.
  • It has been advocated for arthritic pain and chronic back pain.
  • It also reduces headaches
  • May lower fevers.
  • Muscle spasm and muscle aches can be managed effectively too.
  • The bark is beneficial to manage menstrual cramps as well.

In our body, salicin from the bark gets metabolized to form salicylic acid, which helps reduce pain, inflammations and fever. The herb acts slowly compared to aspirin; but the benefits last longer and causes hardly any adverse side effects.

Side Effects Associated With White Willow

The herb rarely causes any side effects when taken in the recommended doses. On the other hand, taking very high doses can result in a stomach upset, nausea, or ringing in the ears. In case you experience any of these symptoms, stop taking the herb for a few days; confer with your health care provider, and start off with low doses.


  • If you have been told to avoid taking aspirin, you should also refrain from taking white willow.
  • Those below 16 years and having fever must not take the herb.
  • Also, if you are susceptible to any GI upset, do not take white willow bark at all.
  • Pregnant women and breast feeding mothers ought to discuss with their doctor before embarking up on white willow treatment.


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    • Dr Pran Rangan profile image

      Dr Pran Rangan 2 years ago from Kanpur (UP), India

      Thanks nice hub.

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