Whether you have a headache, cramps, back pain or acne, white willow bark may be just what you need!
White willow is a centuries-old remedy that uses the bark of the white willow tree for a variety of ailments due to its analgesic and pain-killing properties. The famous Greek Hippocrates recommended chewing willow bark to relieve pain and fever and prescribed willow bark tea to women to lessen the pain of childbirth. In the late 1890s, Bayer Aspirin Company used it to create aspirin, so the aspirin used today is a direct result of the bark from the white willow tree. The bark itself, however, is an old, homeopathic, naturopathic release for headaches, menstrual cramps and many other chronic health conditions.
How It Works
There are many useful chemicals found in white willow bark, including salicin, salicylate, and a number of flavonoids. These chemicals inhibit prostaglandins, which kick off pain cycles in the body. By suppressing those, white willow bark acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, reducing swelling is a major cause of headaches. Prostaglandins also cause swelling and inflammation, so if you inhibit the prostaglandin formation, you decrease the swelling (which means you also decrease inflammation).
Whatever benefits aspirin has, white willow bark has as well. Just as aspirin does, it also slows down the blood clotting process. If you’ve got a headache that is tension-based or vascular in nature where everything is constricting, white willow can help you relax the artery or “thin the blood” so that it can flow through that constricted point more easily.
Different Forms of White Willow Bark
White willow bark is available at just about any health food store, and comes in many different varieties. You can buy the bark by itself and actually make your own tea on your stove at home. They make it in powders, and there are some that are in tinctures or liquid form that you can put sublingual (under the tongue). There are also a number of different herbal remedies that are out there that use it as a main ingredient, so it’s really quite easy to get.