Introduction of Willow Bark:white willow, black willow or crack willow.

Popular Herbs. ✵The article gives records of the herb Willow Bark, its English name, Latin name, common names, property and flavor, its botanical source one plant species, ①.Salix alba L., with a detailed introduction to the botanical features of this plant species, the growth characteristics, and ecological environment of this plant species, the features of the herb Willow Bark, its pharmacological actions, medicinal efficacy, and administration guide.

Willow Bark(Crack Willow).

brown willow bark English Name: Willow Bark.
 Latin Name: Salix alba L.(white willow) and occasionally other species including Salix purpurea L.,Salix daphnoides Villars, and Salix fragilis L.
 Common Names: Common willow, European willow, white willow, Black Willow, Crack Willow, Cartkins Willow, Basket Willow, Salicin Willow, Withe Withy, Withy.
 Property and flavor: cold in nature, tastes bitter.

 Brief introduction: There are several hundred species of the willow tree. Many have been used in traditional healing, but in the United States, the dried bark of the white willow(Salix alba) has been used most commonly. This tall, gray-barked tree has short silky leaves and bears long clusters of spring flowers.

 Botanical source: Common herbal classics defined the herb Willow Bark as the dried bark of the species (1).Salix alba L. It is a plant species of the Salix genus, the Salicaceae family (willow family). The dried bark is used medicinally. This commonly used species is introduced:

(1).Salix alba L.

 big tree of Salix alba grow in woods Botanical description: Salix alba is a tree or bush of the Salix genus and the Salicaceae family (willow family), it grows up to 6~18 meters high, or up to 20 meters, diameter grows up to 1 meter. The old bark is dark gray, deeply fissured. Leaves are short-petioled, lanceolate, linear-lanceolate, or broadly lanceolate, 5~12 cm long, 1~3 cm wide; the apex is tapering, the base is cuneate, young leaves are covered with white silk hairs on both sides, then shedding; petiole is about 1 cm long, with white silky hairs, stipules are lanceolate, with glandular points on the margins, shedding from time to time.

 Inflorescence and leaves grow at the same time, densely covered with white hairs on the axis; male inflorescence is 3~5 cm long, anthers are bright yellow, 2 stamens; bracts are ovate-lanceolate or obovate-oblong, pale yellow, ciliate; 2 glands, grows on dorsal and ventral surface; female inflorescence is 3~4.5 cm long, the ovary is ovate-conical, with a short stalk or subsessile, style is short, often 2-lobed, stigma is 2-lobed; bracts are entire; glands 1, grows on the ventral surface, rarely has 1 underdeveloped dorsal glands. The inflorescence is 3~5.5 cm long. The seeds have a tuft hair. The flowering period is from April to May, and the fruiting period is in May.

 pendulous green leaves of Salix alba grow on branch Ecological environment: The Salix alba L., grows along the river, distributed in the area with elevations up to 3100 meters above sea level. The tree is indigenous to central and Southern Europe, and the northern and temperate parts of North America, it is also distributed in the area of western and Central Asia, and the west-north area of China.

 Use values of white willow: White willow wood is light and soft, with straight grain and fine structure, which can be used for construction, furniture and farm implements or matchsticks; branches can be used for weaving; young leaves can be used as feed; it is one of the important fast-growing willows, and it is an ornamental tree species and early spring nectar plants.

 a colorful drawing of Salix alba,brown stem,green leaves and flower spikes History and findings of White Willow:: It was not until about 1750 that Rev. Edmund Stone MD. of Oxfordshire, England experimented with white willow in an attempt to treat malaria with a local source rather than the expensive and difficult to obtain cinchona bark which contains quinine, an effective antimalarial medicine. The good Reverend used the bark from White willow because it tasted similar to the bitter cinchona bark. When he gave it to the local patients, their pain and fever were reduced even though it did not control malaria. Medicinal applications of the herb caught on quickly and word spread of its effectiveness against pain, inflammation, and fever. White willow trees began to be transported throughout Europe and the Americas for medical purposes. Today, the willow goes largely unidentified because of the introduction of aspirin in a readily usable form in 1899. Oriental physicians used willow to reduce pain and inflammation from before the time of Christ.

 White willow bark is a natural source of salicin, a weaker forerunner of aspirin. Through the ages, long before the discovery of its constituent salicin, white willow bark was used to combat many painful conditions, including rheumatism, headache, neuralgia, arthritis, gout, and angina.

 flowering willow branches with green flower spikes White willow bark is mentioned in ancient Egyptian, Assyrian, and Greek manuscripts, and was used to treat pain and fever by ancient physicians Galen, Hippocrates, and Dioscorides. Native American tribes used it for headaches, fever, sore muscles, rheumatism, and chills. In the mid-1700s, it was used to treat malaria.

 Extracts of the bark were first tested between 1821 and 1829, during which time salicin was isolated and identified, but it wasn't until 1874 it was conclusively shown to reduce the aches and soreness of rheumatism. In 1838, salicylic acid was derived from salicin, this product was demonstrated effective against rheumatic fever.

 Independent studies later produced acetylsalicylic acid from salicylic acid. This new product, aspirin, was subsequently proven effective against general pain, as well as the pain of rheumatism, gout, and neuralgia. Other derivatives of salicylic acid have likewise been proven effective.

 willow bark and isolation of salicin Salicin, the original component of white willow bark, is converted to salicylic acid within the body. The concentration of salicin in the bark is small, but effective, at least for certain individuals and under certain conditions. Used in its raw form, the bark yields other decomposition products of salicin that may enhance the analgesic, antipyretic, disinfectant, and antiseptic properties of white willow bark.

 Scene One: In the year 1614, the place is now in eastern Massachusetts. Four members of the Wampanoag tribe have developed high fevers. The shaman ventures out into the forest, where he carefully collects some leaves, roots, and bark from a willow tree. He returns home, grounds up the plant material, and brews it in water. The patients drink the hot herbal tea and bathe in a cooled solution of the ground bark. Within hours, the fevers are lower, and the sick people are resting comfortably.

 Scene Two: In the year 1846, the place was in London, England. On the day of the Prince's annual ball, the Grand Duchess is suffering from severe arthritic joint pain. She sends for her doctor and is given the oil of wintergreen to swallow. In a short time, the inflammation in her joints lessens, and she can move without pain. The Duchess attends the ball and fulfills her social obligations.

 molecular structure of salicin Scene Three: In the year 1999. A high school student, diligently studying for an exam, develops a headache after several hours of intense concentration. She goes to the medicine cabinet, takes out a bottle marked "aspirin", and swallows two pills with a glass of water. In less than an hour, her headache is gone.

 Taking medicine to relieve pain, fever, and inflammation is a ritual that has been repeated through most of recorded history. Willow tree bark extract, oil of wintergreen, and aspirin are similar in molecular structure and metabolic effect. All three belong to a group of chemicals called salicylates, and are some of the oldest and most frequently used medicine. Willow trees contain salicin, the oil of wintergreen is methyl salicylate, and aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid.

 Salicylates have been used as painkillers since ancient times. Salicin can be extracted from the bark of willow trees, and methyl salicylate is found in wintergreen plants or teaberry. Aspirin was first prepared by the acetylation of salicylic acid.

 salicylates Physiology of White Willow Bark: The inner bark of the tree was once harvested for salicin which was converted to salicylic acid, however, acetylsalicylic acid was eventually synthetically produced, so the tree lost its popularity to aspirin. The salicylic acid in white willow bark lowers the body's levels of prostaglandins hormone-like compounds that are responsible for aches, pain, and inflammation. Many physicians and herbalists still prefer the use of white willow to that of synthetic aspirin because of the lower incidence of side effects associated with the herb. The bark also remains popular secondary to its content of tannins, flavonoids, and phenolic glycosides. The high content of tannins is believed to be responsible for relieving gastrointestinal complications.

 brown willow bark pieces Characters of herbs: The annual twigs are not easy to break off at the base. White willow bark is the bark of the young, 2~3-year-old branches harvested during early spring of Salix alba, Salix purpurea, Salix fragilis, and other comparable Salix species.

 Pharmacological actions: ①.painkilling properties; ②.tannin and astringent properties; ③.anti-inflammatory; ④.fever-reducing; ⑤.antipyretic effects; ⑥.antiphlogistic; ⑦.analgesic effect, etc.

 Willow bark has a painkilling property, but it does not have many side effects of aspirin, it soothes a headache, relieves muscle pain, reduces inflammation, or breaks a fever.

 White willow bark tea contains some tannins, the tannin content has an astringent property on mucous membranes.

 Willow bark components also have anti-inflammatory and fever-reducing properties. The salicin component is responsible for the anti-inflammatory and antipyretic effects.

 White willow bark is the phytotherapeutic precursor to acetylsalicylic acid, after splitting of the acyl residue, the salicin glycosides convert to salicin, the precursor of salicylic acid.

 Medicinal efficacy: Willow bark was used by Eastern healers to control pain as early as 500 B.C., to reduce fevers, and as a pain reliever for rheumatism and headaches. Native American tribes turned to indigenous willows for similar purposes. The colonists introduced white willow to North America. Its component salicin was found in the mid-1800s by European chemists, and it was purified as a more potent substance from it called salicylic acid. Salicin and salicylic acid were also found in other plants. The two components could lower fever and reduce pain and inflammation. A derivative of salicylic acid named acetylsalicylic acid was taken from meadowsweet to make the first aspirin tablets. Willow bark is recommended today as a substitute for aspirin to break a fever, treat headache pain and gout, and control pain or inflammation caused by arthritis, rheumatism, and sprains. It is used for mild feverish colds and infections and used in weight-loss products.

 In Europe, white willow is approved for rheumatism, and pain, salicin is useful in diseases accompanied by fever, rheumatic ailments, headaches, and pain caused by inflammation. Folk medicine uses include toothache, gout, gastrointestinal disorders, diarrhea, and wound healing.

 TCM works record the herb functions to clear heat and detoxification, dispel wind, and eliminate dampness. It is indicated for acute tonsillitis, pharyngolaryngitis, parotitis, icterohepatitis, pelvic inflammatory disease, nephritis, sore and furuncle, rheumatic arthritis, arthritis pauperum, etc.

 Administration of Willow Bark (Crack Willow): 
Reference: Administration Guide of Willow Bark (Crack Willow)
Herbal classic books: Dosage: Willow bark is taken up to three times a day as a decoction made with 1~2 teaspoons powdered bark, as a tincture, or in a standardized form corresponding to 60~120 mg of salicin. Two or three 379 mg capsules are taken every three hours, up to a total of eighteen a day. TCM works recommended the herb internally as a water decoction, 9~15 grams.
 Contraindications, Precautions and Adverse Reactions: As long as willow bark tea and other preparations are used in typically recommended amounts, they appear to pose no risk of harm. Some people may develop stomach upset because of the contained tannins, but this appears to be uncommon. Willow bark use has fewer risk of side effects than aspirin, such as stomach upset.
 Avoid willow bark if you have had any type of allergic reaction to aspirin. As certain levels of aspirin use bring birth defects and other complications, pregnant women should avoid willow bark. Salicylates have been associated with rashes in breastfed infants, use is not recommended in nursing mothers. Children under sixteen with flu or chicken pox symptoms should avoid willow bark, as it has a risk for the development of a serious ailment called Reye's syndrome that has been associated with the use of aspirin under these conditions. But this syndrome has never been directly linked to white willow use. Patients with an active gastric or duodenal ulcer, hemophilia, asthma, or diabetes should avoid willow bark preparations.




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  • 1.Introduction of Willow Bark:white willow, black willow or crack willow.

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