Scientific Name:Salix (Each species different, i.e. Black Willow is Salix nigra and Weeping Willow is Salix babylonica)
About this Herb:Willows, sallows, and osiers form the genus Salix, around 400 species of deciduous trees and shrubs, found primarily on moist soils in cold and temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Most species are known as willow, but some narrow-leaved shrub species are called osier, and some broader-leaved species are referred to as sallow. Some willows (particularly arctic and alpine species) are low-growing or creeping shrubs; for example, the dwarf willow (Salix herbacea) rarely exceeds 6 cm (2 in) in height, though it spreads widely across the ground.
Willows all have abundant, watery bark, sap which is heavily charged with salicylic acid, soft, usually pliant, tough wood, slender branches, and large, fibrous, often stoloniferous roots. The roots are remarkable for their toughness, size, and tenacity to life, and roots readily grow from aerial parts of the plant.
The leaves are typically elongated, but may also be round to oval, frequently with a serrated margin. Willows are dioecious, with male and female flowers appearing as catkins on different plants; the catkins are produced early in the spring, often before the leaves, or as the new leaves open.
Common Names:Black Willow, White Willow, Weeping Willow, Witches Tree, Corkscrew Willow, Coyote Willow, Goat Willow, Purple Osier Willow, Pussy Willow
Uses:The leaves and bark of the willow tree have been mentioned in ancient texts as a remedy for aches and fever. Even the Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates wrote about its medicinal properties in the fifth century BC. Native Americans across the American continent relied on it as a staple of their medical treatments.
By 1829, scientists discovered that it was the compound called salicin in willow plants which provided the pain relief. The bark of the Willow trees contains salicin, a substance that chemically resembles aspirin. It temporarily relieves headache, stomachache, and other body pain. Salicin is metabolized into salicylic acid in the human body, which is a precursor of aspirin. Below are instructions for extracting the Salicin from the bark and making a tea which can be used in place of aspirin.
To use in place of aspirin: Tear off a piece of bark from the Willow Tree and place in pot of water. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Allow to steep for 30 minutes. Drink as you would a tea.
Applications:Tea: Drink as needed, not to exceed 3 cups in a day. Not to be used daily.
Poultice: Use leaves to make poultice according to recipe on the Methods page and apply topically to relieve pain.
Warnings:DO NOT USE THIS NATURAL FORMULA IF YOU ARE ALLERGIC TO SALICYLIC ACID!!
Don't use willow trees less than 50 feet away from a road. You could get sick if the willow tree isn't clean.
Don't do this if you have stomach problems, because this variant (Salicylic acid) is more irritating than the aspirin you buy in a store (Acetylsalicylic Acid).
Side effects tend to be mild. However, gastrointestinal irritation and ulcers are potentially associated with all compounds containing Salicylates. Overdoses of willow bark may cause skin rash, stomach inflammation/irritation, nausea, vomiting, kidney inflammation, and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
Persons under the age of 16 should not be given aspirin or related products such as this one.