White Willow Bark

White Willow Bark

Used in this herbal tea recipe:

Tea For Arthritis

What Is White Willow Bark?

The white willow is one of several species of willow. The name comes from the white tone on the bottom of the leaves. The tree can grow up to 10–30 m (30-100ft) tall, with a trunk up to 1 m (3 ft) diameter. Charcoal made from the wood was important for manufacturing gunpowder. [1]

The active ingredient of white willow bark, salicin, is what lead to the invention of aspirin in the 1800s! Acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin), is a chemical derivative of salicin. It was given a brand name of Aspirin in 1899 by Bayer.

Historical Use Of White Willow Bark

Documented use of willow bark dates to the time of Hippocrates (400 BC), Galen, and Pliny the Elder who recommended chewing on the bark to reduce pain, fever and inflammation. Willow bark has been used for centuries in China and Europe, and by North American healers. It is even mentioned in texts from ancient Egypt.

Modern Information About White Willow Bark

White willow bark continues to be used today for reducing lower back pain, and pain due to osteoarthiritis. While the salicin is partly responsible for the pain relieving effects, studies show several other components of the bark, such as polyphenols and flavonoids, have antioxidant, fever-reducing, antiseptic, and immune-boosting properties. This is a recurring theme in herbal studies: isolated compounds of a plant are rarely as effective as the whole plant. Some studies show willow is as effective as aspirin for reducing pain and inflammation, and at a much lower dose. [2] This may be due to these other compounds in the herb.

Willow bark can also be used to relieve headaches, with less side effects than ibuprofen.

In 2017, the European Medicines Agency concluded that willow bark can be used for short-term treatment of lower back pain, for relief of joint pain, for relief of fever linked with the common cold, and for headaches.[3]

Important notice: information on this website should not be interpreted as medical advice. Do not take any herbal supplements without consulting your physician, especially if you are taking medication or have an illness. Never take herbal supplements unless advised by a physician if you are, or might be, pregnant, or breastfeeding. Do not give herbal supplements to children under the age of 18.


  1. White Willow Bark on Wikipedia
  2. PennState Hershey, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. (2015) Willow bark.
  3. European Medicines Agency, Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products (HMPC) (2017). Salicis cortex