White Willow

Salix alba

Herbs gallery - White Willow

Common names

  • Common Willow
  • European Willow
  • White Willow
  • Willow

The willows have numerous hybrids and comprise of around 300 species deciduous trees and shrubs that are scattered in both hemispheres of the globe. They are found in the Arctic area to South Africa and even southern Chile. The white willow has an interesting characteristic. Of about 70 of the North American species of the white willow, about 30 grow as trees measuring up to 80 feet, in some other places across the globe they may only grow up to five or seven feet and remain just as shrubs. The white willow bears alternating, lanceolate, pockmarked leaves that are ashy-gray in color and glossy on either side. Another interesting aspect of the white willow is the fact that different trees of the species bear male and female flowers that emerge in catkins on leafy stems simultaneously with the leaves.

The white willow logs have great medicinal benefits. The stimulated charcoal powder of white willow logs burnt in kilns are as efficient in healing poisonings, diarrhea, gas, heartburn and other gastric ailments as are any other drugs sold over the counter for healing these disorders. Blend one teaspoon of white willow log charcoal powder, one teaspoon of crushed ginger root and half a teaspoon of white sugar in a big tumbler of distilled water and drink it to get respite from the above mentioned problems. If needed, go over the process again for relief.

Parts used

Bark, leaves.


The actions of white willow are very caustic and earlier it was used to stem internal bleeding. In an article published in 1652, Nicholas Culpeper had suggested that physicians use the burnt residues of the white willow bark blended with vinegar to remove warts, corns as well as unnecessary flesh from the body. In fact, the white willow is an outstanding medication to heal arthritic as well as rheumatic pain that have an effect on the back as well as joints like keens and hips. When blended with other aromatic plant extracts and modifications in the dietary systems, while willow acts efficiently to alleviate irritations and enlargements. At the same time, it perks up mobility in sore and rasping joints in the body. Although these days aspirin-based medicines function better and more quickly than white willow, they are known to have bitter side affects. In addition to the above mentioned uses of white willow, it may also be consumed to heal high fevers as well as get relief from headaches or any other kind of pain in the skull. White willow is also useful for women as the herb helps in lowering night sweating and hot flashes through menopause period.

Other medical uses

Habitat and cultivation

Basically indigenous to European countries, white willow is now found abundantly in North America as well as in Asia. The tree best thrives in humid areas like riverbanks and can be grown from partially matured cuttings during the summer or from hard wood cuttings during the winter. Normally, the white willow trees are often pollarded and the bark of the tree is shredded during spring from branches of trees that are two to five years old.


Although scientists have shown very little interest to conduct researches into white willow, they had isolated salicylic acid, a main and vigorous ingredient of white willow way back in 1838. Significantly, salicylic acid was the predecessor of aspirin - a chemical medication that was first manufactured in 1899. Like aspirin, salicylic acid too, has pain killing as well as anti-seditious properties and is beneficial in healing a number of ailments. While salicylic acid restrains production of prostaglandin, provides respite from pains and even produces a comforting effect during fevers. However, unlike aspirin, salicylic acid does not thin the blood and neither does it exasperate the inner lining of the stomach. Hence, it may be concluded that compared to aspirin, while willow is safer to intake.


White willow contains salicin, tannins, flavonoids, glycosides.

Usual dosage

Prepare a white willow tea with 1-2 grams of the tree bark boiled in 200 ml of water for about 10 minutes. A person may drink five or more cups of this herbal tea daily. Alternatively, a person may also use a tincture prepared from the herb and normally intake 1-2 ml thrice daily. There are many shops that sell homogeneous white willow extracts containing salicin. For effective results, normally a person may consume 60-120 mg of salicin every day.

Side effects and cautions

One needs to follow some guidelines and be cautious while using white willow on a long-term basis. Using white willow over a considerable period of time may lead to pain and exasperation in the gastro-intestinal parts of the body. Particularly, like in the instance of aspirin, white willow too must not be administered to children suffering from low fevers. And more importantly, people who are sensitive to aspirin should also avoid white willow. Anyways, long-time usage of white willow is harmful for the body as this may cause the same problems that are associated with the use of aspirin. Generally, like in the case of aspirin, even long-term usage of white willow may lead to stomach ulcers. Nevertheless, white willow is still considered to be a safer remedy than aspirin.


White willow has a number of applications. In fact, the bark, leaf extracts, decoction and even tinctures and infusions prepared from white willow are beneficial for curing a number of ailments. Listed below are a few popular applications of this herb.

FLUID EXTRACT - fluid extracts from the bark of the white willow are more powerful and effective compared to the tincture and can be taken to heal rheumatic conditions, get relief from headaches as well as neuralgia.
TINCTURE - tinctures prepared from the bark of the white willow are effective in healing a number of problems. One may take up to 15 ml of the tincture for curing fevers or blend them with boneset, elder and sour remedies such as gentian. To cure gastric swellings and infections, one may also blend the tincture with comforting herbs like marshmallow root or plantain.
POWDER - white willow powders can be consumed in doses of up to 10 g to heal fevers and headaches. For a soothing effect, while willow powder can also be taken in by blending it with a teaspoon of honey.
DECOCTION - decoction prepared from white willow bark can be taken for cold and headaches caused due to fever or it can even be used as a part of arthritic therapy.
INFUSION - infusions prepared from white willow leaves can be consumed following meals with a view to cure digestive problems as well as enhance the digestive process.

Chase-away-your-pain aperitif

  • 3 cups (750 ml) Sweet white wine (Alsatian Muscat, Muscadet)
  • 3 T (50 g) Willow bark, dried and crushed

Macerate month. Strain. Drink 2 T (30 ml) during attacks.


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