The bark of Salix Alba (White Willow) has been used in folk medicine since ancient times. It is a known agent for reducing fever and pain, for strengthening the body and cleansing the blood.
The extract from it is used for internal bleeding, catarrh, rheumatic fever, joint problems, and cystitis. It is used in the treatment of liver problems, kidney, and heart. It is well known for its antiparasitic and antimalarial action.
Chinese doctors have been using white willow (aka Salix alba) for thousands of years. The modern medicine uses the willow bark (Cortex Salicis), which is collected in early spring, during intensive juice movement in the plant.
The bark is separated from young twigs of trees aged 2 to 5 years. Then it is cut into pieces or crushed for infusions. Thereof tablets and capsules are made, often in combination with other anti-inflammatory plants.
The bark of Salix Alba helps with colds, fevers, fever, pleurisy, rheumatism, gout, headache, inflammation of the bladder.
Japanese scientists proved a study in 2002 study that salicylic acid (formed from the processing of salicin in the intestines) lowers the temperature without damaging the stomach. The bark is known for its antiseptic effect and is applied topically on wounds and ulcers.
It is used in diarrhea and intestinal infections. European medical science confirms its healing properties much later. In the I century, Dioscorides confirmed these effects. A century later, Galen also studied it. Modern science recognizes the effects of Salix Alba as anti-inflammatory and styptic.
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What Is White Willow Bark (Salix Alba)
Salix Alba is a type of willow, which is found in Europe, western and central Asia. Its name derives from the albescent to the almost white color of the leaves. The plant is a tree with dark gray, deeply cracked crust, up to 25-30 m tall.
The young twigs on top are with silvery hairs and are later naked. The leaves are lanceolate, consecutive, pointed, 5-12 cm long, 1-3 cm wide, finely serrated on edge, covered on both sides or just below with silvery hairs.
The flowers are gathered in cylindrical catkins. White willow is found in damp areas, especially on river banks, to 1000 meters altitude. The flexible young shoots are often material for woven fences, furniture, and baskets.
Used Parts of Salix Alba
The modern medicine uses the willow bark (Cortex Salicis), which is collected in early spring, during intensive juice movement in the plant. The bark is separated from young twigs of trees aged 2 to 5 years.
Then it is cut into pieces or crushed for infusions. Thereof tablets and capsules are made, often in combination with other anti-inflammatory plants.
Composition of Salix Alba
The bark of Salix Alba contains from 5 to 7% of the glycoside salicin, which disintegrates in the body under the influence of the enzyme salikase of saligenin, which is further oxidized to salicylic acid.
There are also flavonoids and 5 to 10% proanthocyanidins (condensed tannins) which are known for stiffening and hemostatic properties.
Action and Use of Salix Alba
The bark of Salix Alba helps with colds, fevers, fever, pleurisy, rheumatism, gout, headache, inflammation of the bladder. Less common is the use in intestinal disorders, heavy menstruation, skin rashes, open sores, against sweating of the feet.
Japanese scientists proved a study in 2002 study that salicylic acid (formed from the processing of salicin in the intestines) lowers the temperature without damaging the stomach.
The bark is known for its antiseptic effect and is applied topically on wounds and ulcers. It is used in diarrhea and intestinal infections. In 2001 German scientists found that the preparation of Willow has a moderate analgesic effect in an experiment with a group of people suffering from osteoarthritis.
Tincture (Salix Alba tincture) - In the V century, BC Hippocrates described a bitter powder extracted from willow bark, which relieves pain and reduces fever and temperature. Similar texts have come down to us from ancient Egypt, Sumeria, and Assyria.
The bark is soaked in ethanol to give a tincture. The active extract of the bark is salicin – from the Latin word "Salix," isolated in crystal form in 1828. Salicin, as well as aspirin, is a chemical derivative of the salicylic acid.
Salicylic acid is synthesized in the body from salicyl, but the side effects of aspirin, which are well known, are not shown when using the bark of white willow. We know that aspirin, taken in high doses, impairs the gastrointestinal tract (causes nausea, diarrhea, bleeding from a gastric or duodenal ulcer).
It can lead to allergic reactions, weight loss or decrease in hearing, even respiratory failure. Studies confirm that NSAIDs, such as aspirin, reduce the synthesis of certain prostaglandins (Pg), which play an important role in the regulation of the immune system.
Ingredients that inhibit prostaglandin synthesis may enhance the immune response and have anti-inflammatory effects. The action of salicin found in the bark of the white willow is selective - similar to that of aspirin.
According to research, salicin blocks Pg less in the gastrointestinal tract, so with its use, there are rarely side effects, and if they exist, they are less intense. Passing through the stomach and intestines, the beneficial effects of salicin occur in the liver.
Way of Intake
Use an extract of 1 teaspoon finely shredded bark that has to be soaked in 8:00 1/2 l of cold water. After straining the liquid has to be drunk for one day. Externally a concentrated infusion of the bark can be used. A compress can be used for the treatment of ulcers and wounds.
A piece of cotton cloth is soaked in the infusion and put on the place 2-3 times daily. It can be used prophylactically as herbal tea or food supplement. Sometimes Willow can cause side effects such as nausea, gastrointestinal discomfort, dizziness and rash in large quantities.
The bark is not recommended for pregnant women, nursing mothers, and people who have asthma, gastric ulcer, diabetes or kidney, and liver diseases. Do not take the plant if you have an allergy to aspirin or salicyl.
Do not combine it with diuretics, drugs, blood pressure-lowering, antiplatelet agents, as well as NSAIDs. The excessive use of potion can cause mouth sores. Patients taking anticoagulants should not take products containing vitamin K, except under medical supervision.