White Willow Bark – Uses, Benefits And Side Effects

What Is ItUsesDosageSide EffectsBenefitsRelated ResearchSummary

Willow bark has often been called nature’s own aspirin. The bark has some incredibly interesting properties that see great use these days in the medicinal industry. It’s often bought over the counter and simply called willow bark. These small tablets are meant to help reduce pain by stimulating the nerves. With some recent research it is reported that the willow bark is able to help effectively with arthritis. 

The bark of the white willow is quite simply a very useful ingredient for making medicine. It’s still being researched and new discoveries are coming out pretty steadily. In this article we will be diving deeper into willow bark and learning about the benefits of it.

White Willow
White Willow

What Is White Willow Bark

The willow tree family is pretty large. There are some varieties that are much more common than others. The white willow is the most cultivated one, but there are some others worth knowing about too. They share similar properties among each other. Willow trees are in Latin called Salix, that might be the name you see if you read a research report about the tree, instead of white willow. Below is a list of some of the most commonly used Salix trees.

  • Salix fragilis (crack willow)
  • Salix alba (white willow)
  • Salix purpurea (purple willow)
  • Salix pentandra (bay willow)
  • Salix daphnoides (violet willow)

Like we mentioned previously, willow tree bark is often called nature’s aspirin. The reason being that all these trees have something called acetylsalicylic acid, which is also known as aspirin. The salicin in the bark is converted in the body into this acid and that is what makes it anti-inflammatory. It helps ease the pain in nerves and muscle joints.

The white willow tree can grow in a variety of different environments. But if you want to maximize the growth and the longevity of it then you should try and find a well watered area. The soil should ideally also be very well drained. This means that the tree has an easier time growing and staying healthy. The spot should be pretty open too, so that sun can easily reach the tree and its leaves.

The Uses Of Willow Bark

Willow bark seems to have some really interesting and beneficial effects to people who suffer from arthritis. The bark from the tree is often referred to as nature’s aspirin. It has the possibility of reducing muscle and joint pain. Its anti-inflammatory and makes calms the nerves.

The chemical called salicin in the bark turns into an acid when it gets taken up by the body. But besides being converted into aspirin in the body and reducing pain, it can also act as an antioxidant. That might be the second most beneficial thing about white willow bark. Antioxidants are something incredibly important for the body. It reduces the chance you will get sick. The white blood cells in the body are able to more quickly and efficiently protect the body against colds and fever for example.

Often referred to as “free radicals”, that is what causes inflammations. Which the willow bark counteracts. Below is a short list of some of the areas where willow bark could be used.


Since the willow bark contains antioxidants that help fight against inflammation, it’s a very effective medicine against headaches. It calms the nerves and makes the pain more tolerable. It should be mentioned that there is a risk the bark can interact in a negative way with other medicines. Meaning that you should discuss with a professional beforehand.


Arthritis is a disease that causes a lot of pain in the muscle and nerves. This means that willow bark could be a very useful remedy for this. It calms the nerves and makes the person using it have a lot less pain basically. It was relieved that people who had serious knee pains had pretty surprising pain reliefs when using willow bark.

Lower Back Pain

Willow bark was used in research looking at the effect it has against back pain. The result was that it was directly impacting the area and causing less pain for the people. The dosage seemed to also correlate with the amount of pain relief. Meaning that a higher dose had a higher pain relief.

White Willow Bark
White Willow Bark

Doses Of White Willow Bark

There is a very high risk for people under the age of 18 using willow bark, or aspirin in general. There is an increase in Reye syndrome. Something which is correlated with the use of aspirin if the body is still developing, meaning people under the age of 18.

Even if you are a doctor you should still discuss with a professional beforehand. Aspirin is a very powerful pain relief medicine, but it should be taken in moderation to prevent long term issues otherwise. 

As for the different ways you could get the medicine, there are a few.


This is the most common way to get willow bark medicine. They can be bought over the counter in most pharmacies. Tablets or capsules, these are effective against reducing pain in the muscles or joints. It’s recommended to not go over 240 mg of dosage per day.


There are some health food stores in the country that actually carry tea made from the bark. Often consumed to help calming the body and reducing anxiety. The downside being that it’s hard to know how much salicin you are consuming as you are steeping the bark.


Lastly the bark can also be found in liquids. These are concentrated liquids meant to be taken in very small doses. 1 or 2 drops pers day is the recommended amount. Working the same way as the other forms, reduces pain and makes it easier to go about your day.

Are There Any Side Effects To It

People who might be allergic to aspirin should at all cost avoid the willow tree bark. It can trigger some pretty ansty effects otherwise in the body. Like a lot of medicines like this, you should consult with a professional beforehand. The risk would otherwise be that it interacts negatively with other medicines, like blood-thinners or beta blockers.

Like we mentioned previously, children under the age of 18 should not take this medicine, or asprin in general. As there is research suggesting that Reye syndrome is correlated with taking aspirin if the body is still developing. It could therefore have some long term and serious issues. 

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also avoid using this. Since the intake you have will be shared with the baby too, increasing the risk of Reye syndrome here too. Lastly, if you are suffering from gastric ulcers there is a chance aspirin could cause stomach bleeding, so willow bark is completely off the table.

Benefits Of White Willow Bark

There are a number of areas where willow bark, especially white willow bark, proves beneficial. People who have issues with lower back pain will see that the medicine is very efficient. In fact, it seems that willow bark and the aspirin in it can help with a large amount of pain for people. 

Its anti-inflammatory meaning that it will directly impact the affected area. The antioxidants in the bark treat the “free radicals” causing the inflammation. Reduction of that means less pain. 

The use of willow bark is effective in treating muscle and joint pains. So for women who are experiencing menstrual pains then this might be a good solution against that. Again though, consult with a professional first. 

There is still a large amount of research that needs to be done in order to really learn about the true impact that willow bark could have. Nature’s aspirin could play a very important role in the future of the medical business. Since the tree is rather easy to cultivate in large quantities it’s of great potential.

But with all these things, time will tell what the long term effects are to the body when using this bark. It is however very interesting that mother nature is able to offer impressive things such as this.

Willow Tree
Willow Tree

Conclusion And Summary

White willow bark is often referred to as nature’s aspirin. The reason being that the bark has a property called allicin present in it. This gets converted into an acid when entering the body. That acid then has the same impact as aspirin to the body. 

This means that white willow bark is able to help treat muscle and joint pains rather effectively. The research is at least pointing that way. But like all medicines that can have impactful effects like this, it’s recommended to talk to a licensed professional beforehand. The impact could otherwise be quite severe. 

The ways you are able to get the bark in are many, but the most common one being in tablets or capsules. These are the ones sold over the counter in most pharmacies.

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