Common name: White willow
Part used: Bark from young branches, collected in spring and summer
Habitat: Though we talk about white wilow here, there are hundreds of willow species which hybridise easily, though they share much of their therapeutic constituents. Willow is a deciduous tree growing up to 25-30m tall with deep fissures in the bark and drooping branches. Willow trees are drought tender and are most often found growing on the banks of fresh waterways, where even the smallest twig can travel downstream and propagate in the silt.
History and Folklore: White willow is famously one of the plant origins of synthetically formulated aspirin, which is isolated acetylsalicylic acid rather than various salicylic acids (with many other compounds) in willow which were the starting point for this drug's development. Aspirin is named after the other plant where salicylic acid was identified; meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) whose old latin name was Spirea ulmaria. Both of these plants are found very commonly in the British countryside and make delicious teas. One benefit of willow and meadowsweet is that these plants have well documented anti-inflammatory and pain relieving activity but are also safe for people with gastric ulcers, where aspirin is usually not recommended.
Constituents: Phenolic glycosides (up to 11%) most notably various salicylates for which this plant is most famous, flavonoids (up to 4%) and tannins.
Actions: anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain relieving), anti-pyretic (reduces fever), anti-rheumatic
Traditional and current uses:
- Flu, common cold, fever, respiratory catarrh
- Mild headaches
- Rheumatic joint and muscle pain, gouty arthritis
- Akylosing spondylitis
- Connective tissue disorders
Disclaimer: The information on this website is provided for educational use only, and is not intended as a replacement for the services of a qualified medical herbalist, doctor or licensed health practitioner. The information contained herein is not diagnostic, always consult a medical health professional before embarking on a treatment programme. Urban Fringe Dispensary disclaims any liability, loss, injury or damage incurred as a consequence of the use and application of the advice given herein.