White Willow Extract


White willow extract is derived from the bark of the white willow tree. White willow is also referred to as European willow and is found in Europe and Asia. The backs of the leaves of this tree are whitish in color, hence the name of white willow. The bark of this tree contains the active ingredient salicin, which is similar to aspirin.

History of Use of White Willow Bark

The oldest documented pain reliever in history is white willow bark in 400 B.C. However, earlier use can be traced back to ancient Chinese medicine as far back as 500 B.C. Use of white willow bark for treatment of pain, fever, and inflammation was also used in ancient Egypt and Assyria. Patients would chew on the bark to receive the therapeutic benefits.

White willow bark contains salicin, tannins, and flavanoids. Salicin is a precursor to the synthetic aspirin and works with similar results with reduced risk of side effects. Natural tannins and flavanoids have many health benefits as antioxidants and for anti-inflammatory use. The therapeutic benefits of white willow bark eventually led to the creation of aspirin in the 19th century.

Uses of White Willow Extract

White willow extract can be used to help with all kinds of pain and inflammation associated with injuries or health conditions. It has been used to treat conditions such as osteoarthritis and premenstrual syndrome, as well as illnesses such as colds and flu. White willow is also known for anti-cancer properties, especially those cancers that affect sex organs and the reproductive system. When combined with other medications, white willow extract increases the effectiveness of those treatments.

White willow extract increases blood flow across the body, including to the brain and sexual organs. This herbal remedy also has the ability to balance hormones and reduce stress. When combined with other herbal remedies for sexual enhancement, there is an increase in libido and drive with an increase in sensation which enhances sexual pleasure. White willow extract should be taken in prepared supplements specifically designated for the condition to be treated. Dosage instructions should be followed carefully.

Proper Usage of White Willow Treatments

It is always best to seek the advice of your physician or pharmacist prior to taking any new supplement or treatment product. Those with certain medical conditions or on medication may not be able to take white willow extract due to the risk of side effects.

Side effects are similar to those of aspirin and are mostly gastrointestinal in nature. These include nausea, vomiting, kidney health, and risk of allergic reaction. Just like aspirin, white willow extract can thin the blood, so should not be taken with blood thinners or other medications with the same effects. Several drug interactions can be found on the WedMD Willow Bark page under interactions and on the about.com Alternative Medicine page devoted to possible drug interactions that can occur with the use of willow bark.

Do not take white willow extract if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Also, as with aspirin, white willow bark should not be used by children under the age of 16 as there are risks of  side effects.

Products With White Willow Extract

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