The plant that treats acne, headaches, arthritis, lower back pain and roots garden plants.
Attendees at my courses often look at me askance when I show them a bowl of soggy looking willow bark and assure them that nature's aspirin is the right solution for their aches, pains and fevers.
Big Pharma's aspirin looks so much neater, small and white with a sensible foil wrapping and easily dissolvable in a glass of water.
Of course, willow bark can be made into tinctures, teas, glycerites and creams. It can be powdered for capsules and even chewed whole but, undoubtedly, it's far more labour intensive than running into the pharmacy to pick up a box of extra strength!
So why use willow bark which is obviously a very archaic form of medicine?
Willowbark has similar benefits to aspirin at a dosage of 240 mg a day.
Willowbark can reduce acne owing to its anti-inflammatory, astringent and soothing properties. Salicylic acid is a BHA (beta hydroxy acid) which is a natural exfoliating agent, facilitating the shedding of dead skin and clearing blocked pores.
The phenolic acids, tannins and flavonoids help rejuvenate skin.
Willowbark can reduce headache and feelings of tension caused by headache. It appears to work more slowly than aspirin but the effects last for longer.
Willowbark contains components that inhibit cyclooxygenase which helps form the inflammatory mediator prostaglandins. This means willow bark acts as an anti-inflammatory. It can have significant pain-relieving effects for lower back pain, arthritis, osteoarthritis and menstrual cramps.
It can also help to prevent heart attack or strokes in the same way aspirin does by thinning the blood.
Although willow bark acts similarly to aspirin, it has less severe side effects if taken in the correct dosage.
Interestingly willow bark also helps to root plants. The indolebutyric and salicylic acid act as rooting hormones and protect plants against fungal, viral and bacterial infections while they are rooting and beyond.
Willowbark! Another reason why we at Peter's Gate Herbal Centre trust Mother Nature to have the answers.
Possible side effects:
Willowbark can cause side effects for people who have an allergy to salicylic acid, the principal metabolite of both aspirin and willow bark.
Excessive doses could cause stomach ulcers.
Teenagers with flu-like symptoms should avoid willow bark as they do aspirin, in case of a rare condition called Reyes syndrome.
It might also react negatively with blood-thinning medications.