Willow Bark

What other names is Willow Bark known by?

Basket Willow, Bay Willow, Black Willow, Black Willow Extract, Brittle Willow, Corteza de Sauce, Crack Willow, Daphne Willow, Écorce de Saule, Écorce de Saule Blanc, European Willow, European Willow Bark, Extrait d'Écorce de Saule, Extrait d'Écorce de Saule Blanc, Extrait de Saule, Extrait de Saule Blanc, Knackweide, Laurel Willow, Lorbeerweide, Organic Willow, Osier Blanc, Osier Rouge, Purple Osier, Purple Osier Willow, Purple Willow, Purpurweide, Pussy Willow, Reifweide, Salicis Cortex, Salix alba, Salix daphnoides, Salix fragilis, Salix nigra, Salix pentandra, Salix purpurea, Saule, Saule Argenté, Saule Blanc, Saule Commun, Saule des Viviers, Saule Discolore, Saule Fragile, Saule Noir, Saule Pourpre, Silberweide, Violet Willow, Weidenrinde, White Willow, White Willow Bark, Willowbark, White Willow Extract, Willow Bark Extract.

What is Willow Bark?

Willow bark is the bark from several varieties of the willow tree, including white willow or European willow, black willow or pussy willow, crack willow, purple willow, and others. The bark is used to make medicine.

Willow bark acts a lot like aspirin, so it is used for pain, including headache, muscle pain, menstrual cramps, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis, gout, and a disease of the spine called ankylosing spondylitis.

Willow bark's pain relieving potential has been recognized throughout history. Willow bark was commonly used during the time of Hippocrates, when people were advised to chew on the bark to relieve pain and fever.

Willow bark is also used for fever, the common cold, flu, and weight loss.

Salicin, the active ingredient in willow bark, seems to have contributed to the death of the composer, Ludwig von Beethoven. Apparently, Beethoven ingested large amounts of salicin before he died. His autopsy report is the first recorded case of a particular type of kidney damage that can be caused by salicin.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Treating lower back pain. Willow bark seems to reduce lower back pain. Higher doses seem to be more effective than lower doses. It can take up to a week for significant improvement in symptoms.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Weight loss. Early research suggests that taking willow bark in combination with ephedra and cola nut might cause slight weight loss in overweight and obese people. However, it is not wise to use this combination because of safety concerns about ephedra. Ephedra has been banned in the United States due to severe harmful side effects.
  • Osteoarthritis. Research on willow bark extract for osteoarthritis has produced conflicting results. Some research suggests it can reduce osteoarthritis pain, while other research shows no effect.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Early research suggests that willow bark extract is not effective for rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Treating fever.
  • Joint pain.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of willow bark for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).


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