Willow - Very Useful Herb for Arthritis


Salix alba Salicaceae Also called White willow

This deciduous tree is characterised by its graciful branches bearing silky, lance-shaped leaves. It grows to a height of 1 0-15m and is found throughout Europe in damp places, especially on riverbanks. Its flowers are catkins that appear in spring. The supple young twigs are traditionally used as a material for fences and basketwork.

Parts used

  • Bark
  • "The bark is taken trom young branches collected in March from trees that are 2-5 years old.
  • "The bark is cut into small pieces or crushed for use in decoctions.
  • It is also used in powder capsules, tinctures and liquid extracts, often in combination with other antiinflammatory plants such as devil's claw and blackcurrant.


Willow bark contains salicin, which the body converts into salicyl alcohol and subsequently to the known anti-inflammatory agent salicylic acid (a natural form of aspirin). It also contains flavonoids and proanthocyanidins (condensed tannins) that are well known for their astringent and wound-healing properties.

Medicinal uses

Willow bark combats inflammation, rheumatism, pain, headaches and fever. Japanese scientists carried out experiments in 2002 which demonstrated that salicylic acid (produced from the conversion of salicin in the intestines), reduced fever without damaging the stomach.

Willow bark is also known to have an antiseptic effect and is used externally to treat wounds and ulcers. It has been used in the treatment of diarrhoea and for intestinal infections. For its ability to reduce fever, it is also indicated in the treatment of influenza.A trial carried out in Germany in 2001 found that willow exerted a moderate analgesic effect on people who were suffering from osteoarthritis.


For internal use

TO THEAT rever, flu, headaches, pains, rheumatism
DECOCTION Put 1-3g of bark into a cup of water. Boil for 10 minutes and strain. Drink 1 cup three times a day before food. CAPSULES (200mg willow bark powder) Take 2-4 capsules three times a day with water. TINCTURE Put 40 drops into a glass of water. Drink three times a day.

For external use

TO TREAT ulcers. wounds
COMPRESS Soak a cloth in the
decoction (above). Apply two or three times a day.



Suited to moist or wet soil and a sunny location. Willow will take up a lot of space in a smaller garden.


  • When taken in large doses, willow can cause nausea. gastrointestinal discomfort. dizziness and a rash.
  • Willow bark is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women or for people with asthma. stomach ulcers. diabetes. or kidney or liver disorders.
  • Individuals who are allergic to salicylates must not take willow.
  • It should not be taken in combination with diuretics. drugs that lower blood pressure or thin the blood, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Excessive use of a decoction of the plant can cause mouth sores.


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