White willow (Nyamme-dua in Twi) bark, the bark obtained from the white willow tree has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for the treatment of fever and also for lowering pain. The bark contains an active ingredient known as salicin, which is converted to salicylic acid by the body. Aacetylsalicylic acid, the most important compound in aspirin, is obtained from salicylic acid.
Hence white willow bark is popularly known as “Nature’s aspirin”. Salicin in white willow bark is responsible for the anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties of the herb. The bark also contains polyphenols and flavonoids that have antioxidant and immune boosting properties. Studies suggest that the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of white willow bark appears slowly but the effectiveness last longer than aspirin.
White willow bark has numerous benefits and there are scientific evidences to support this fact, which is why it has become a very popular and trusted alternative remedy for various health issues. Here are some of the important benefits of using willow bark:
White willow bark offers relief from headaches
Just like aspirin, white willow bark contains salicin, a pain relieving component that gets converted to salicylic acid after being absorbed by the body. Taking this herb has been found to be helpful in relieving the pain associated with tension and migraine headaches.
White willow bark lowers back pain
Studies have found that white willow bark is effective in providing relief from lower back pain. The active components in white willow bark inhibit cyclooxygenase, an enzyme responsible for the formation of inflammatory mediator like prostaglandins. In a study, about 200 people with lower back pain were given white willow bark. These participants experienced a great relief from their pain. The study also found that patients who took 240 milligrams of willow bark experienced better pain relief than those who took 120 milligrams of the herb.
White willow bark for preventing heart attacks
A low dose of aspirin is usually taken as a preventive as well as a first aid for heart attack as it helps in reducing the risk of internal clotting. White willow bark also shows aspirin like properties and so drinking a cup of white willow bark tea once or twice a day aspirin may help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
White willow bark reduces fever
White willow bark has been found to be effective in the treatment of fever associated with cold and flu. If you are suffering from mild fever, then taking a capsule of white willow bark twice a day or drinking a cup of willow bark tea two or three times daily may be beneficial
White willow bark may help with toothaches
Salicin, the active ingredient found in white willow bark is very well known for its pain relieving properties. This herb is therefore beneficial in soothing various types of pains including toothaches. Chewing on a piece of the bark is found to be effective in providing fast relief from toothaches.
White willow bark may have anti-cancer properties
According to laboratory studies, the active ingredients in white willow bark may have anti-cancer properties and may inhibit or even prevent the growth of tumor cells. A study published in “Cancer Detection and Prevention” states that an extract obtained from willow bark inhibited the division of lung cancer and colon cancer cells and eventually induced the death of cancer cells.
White willow barks aids weight loss
White willow bark is one of the natural herbal remedies many people use for helping them lose weight. Although there is no evidence linking willow bark directly to weight loss, it has been found to boost up the action of other substances that are intended to burn fat and increase metabolism.
How to make white willow tea
Ingredients: Dried white willow bark – 2-3 grams, Water – 2 cups, Honey – 1 tbsp, Lemon juice – 2 tbsp, Ginger – a small piece
Method: Add white willow bark in a pan of water and boil it. Then add ginger and allow to boil for some more time. After a few minutes switch off the stove and strain the tea. Add honey and lemon juice for flavor and drink hot.
White willow bark has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years, for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. It is available in the form of capsule, tablet, powder, and liquid. Since white willow bark contains similar chemical properties as that of aspirin, it is widely used as an alternative to aspirin and various other pain-relievers. While aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may cause side effects such as stomach irritation, white willow bark does not and this is one of the reasons people prefer to use it as an alternative to aspirin
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