The Willow

Salix

The bark and leaves of the willow tree contain a precursor of salicylic acid when ingested. Salicylic acid in turn is a close relative  of acetylsalicylic acid, the main ingredient of aspirin, and has a very similar effect on the human body.  In addition to salicin, willow bark contains other, less well-researched substances.

 

The whole cocktail of ingredients combines to an herbal remedy which, like aspirin, is an effective pain killer and anti-inflammatory agent, without the undesirable side effects its chemically processed sibling causes.

Links

Willow Bark in Modern Herbal Medicine:

Willow Bark in Fiction:

  • In her story "Silver" in the short story collection Shifting Shadows, Patricia Briggs mentions willow bark as one of the herbs the werewolf-cum-physician Samuel needs to treat a Fey lady's wounds.
  • In the novel The Black Gryphon,  author Mercedes Lackey has her character Winterhart drinking willow bark tea to soothe a back injury she sustained when trying to treat an injured gryphon.

Blog Posts

The Willow's Bark

Welcome to the Herbwoman's Arts blog!

 

Let's dive right in and start as we intend to continue - with the portrait of a medicinal plant that is quite famous for its healing qualities: The willow.

 

Whether it's a regency romance or a fantacy novel - the willow tree's bark is often found in the pages of a novel. It alleviates fevers and head colds, it cures a headache, and eases rheumatic complaints. In fantasy novels it also serves as a pain killer for superficial battle wounds.

 

It does all those things in real life, too. 

 

Willow bark contains salicin, which the body breaks down into salicylic acid when ingested. Salicylic acid in turn is a close relative  of acetylsalicylic acid, the main ingredient of aspirin, and has a very similar effect on the human body.  

In addition to salicin, willow bark contains other, less well-researched substances. The whole cocktail of ingredients combines to an herbal remedy which has most of the positive effects of aspirin without the undesirable side effects its chemically processed sibling causes.

 

Modern phytotherapy uses willow bark extract to treat rheumatic complaints, arthritis, and gout, in addition to its traditional use as a pain killer and for fever reduction.

Here's what the University of Maryland Medical School has to say about willow bark:

Some studies show willow is as effective as aspirin for reducing pain and inflammation (but not fever), and at a much lower dose. Scientists think that may be due to other compounds in the herb. More research is needed.

 

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 *** Please note: This blog is not intended as medical advice. ***

Do not try this at home.
(Or at least, don't use any of the remedies described here this without consulting your physician first.)