Also indexed as:Salix alba, Willow (White)
© Steven Foster
How It Works
The glycoside salicin, from which the body can split off salicylic acid, is thought to be the source of the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving actions of willow.13 The analgesic actions of willow are typically slow to develop but may last longer than the effects of standard aspirin products. One trial has found that a combination herbal product including 100 mg willow bark taken for two months improved functioning via pain relief in people with osteoarthritis.14 Another trial found that 1360 mg of willow bark extract per day (delivering 240 mg of salicin) for two weeks was somewhat effective in treating pain associated with knee and/or hip osteoarthritis.15 Use of high amounts of willow bark extract may also help people with low back pain. One four-week trial found 240 mg of salicin from a willow extract was effective in reducing exacerbations of low back pain.16
How to Use It
Willow extracts standardized for salicin content are available. The commonly recommended intake of salicin has been 60–120 mg per day.17 However, newer studies suggest a higher salicin intake of 240 mg per day may be more effective for treating pain.18 A willow tea can be prepared from 1/4–1/2 teaspoon (1–2 grams) of bark boiled in about 7 ounces (200 ml) of water for ten minutes. Five or more cups (1250 ml) of this tea can be drunk per day. Tincture, 1–1 1/2 teaspoons (5–8 ml) three times per day, is also occasionally used.
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.