White Willow Bark Benefits For Health Explained

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You know that something is tried and true when it has been used for decades. Or, in the case of the white willow, for centuries. We tend to believe that pain relievers like aspirin are a modern medical invention. Aspirin capsules are a recent invention, but the healing properties in aspirin that make it effective, such as the willow bark, have been around for years.

Hundreds of years ago, leading physicians and the native American Indians and Chinese used white willow to treat a variety of medical conditions. These include rheumatism, chills, pain and fever. The white willow bark is mentioned in ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Assyrian manuscripts. The physicians Hippocrates, Galen and Dioscorides used the white willow to relieve pain and fever. Before we get carried away on all its wonderful properties, you might be wondering what exactly is white willow bark?

What Is White Willow Bark?

White willow bark.

There are different varieties of the willow bark.

There are many varieties of willow bark. The white willow bark is native to Europe and Western and Central Asia. It is also known as salix alba, derived from the Celtic words ‘sal lis’ which means ‘near water’. Willow bark contains the key ingredient salicin, which acts like aspirin and provides relief from pain and fever.

In 500 BC, the Chinese started to use willow bark as a pain reliever. This eventually led to the formulation of the synthetic aspirin.

White Willow Bark Extract Explained

While willow bark supplements often come in the form of capsules, you can also find them as powders or extracts. White willow bark extract or oil is the liquid form of white willow bark.

White willow bark extract is well known for reducing inflammation and benefiting scalp and skin health. It can even help those experiencing back pain. Its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties mean that it can have tons of uses and applications for the body.

What Are The Benefits Of White Willow Bark?

1. Pain Reliever

Two friends laughing with one blowing bubble gum.

White willow bark can help pain fade away.

If you’re looking for a pain reliever that’s a natural alternative to aspirin, white willow bark would be the way to go. White willow bark works like aspirin to relieve pain, fever, and inflammation, but it is gentler on the stomach than aspirin. White willow contains an active compound called salicylate glycoside, which works as an anti-inflammatory. Salicylate glycosides treat the cause of the inflammation while interfering with pain transmission in the nervous system.

2. Reduces Inflammation

If you suffer from swelling or redness on your skin, try applying white willow bark extract or a facial cream containing white willow bark. White willow bark is rich in antioxidants, meaning that it reduces inflammation, swelling, and redness.

3. Treats Headaches And Migraines

Woman with eyes closed holding forehead.

White willow bark is a natural way to relieve headaches.

Headaches and migraines are generally harmless, but they can be so crippling. I’ve suffered from headaches and migraines from a young age, and by now I know that if I feel a headache coming on and do not take a pain reliever from the onset, it isn’t long before it develops into a migraine and I’m in bed for the rest of the day.

The good news for all the fellow sufferers of migraines and headaches is that there are natural cures available. I’ve always been wary of swallowing capsules too frequently, fearful of negative side effects or my body becoming accustomed to the painkillers, thereby making them ineffective. Natural medicines, however, seem less harmful and healthier to take.

White willow bark treats headaches and migraines by lowering the blood pressure in the capillaries and blood vessels in the head. This eases pressure and effectively relieves the painful symptoms associated with migraines. In addition to eliminating migraines, white willow bark also works to prevent headaches.

4. Clears Acne

Woman checking her skin in the mirror.

Salicylic acid can keep your skin clear.

Salicylic acid, a key ingredient in white willow, works as a powerful skin exfoliant. It removes dandruff and prevents dead skin cells from building up. If you suffer from acne, look for exfoliants containing salicylic acid – it clears acne and keeps your skin healthy.

5. Maintains Healthy Hair

Do you have oily hair? The worst part about having oily hair is that the more you wash your hair, the oilier it becomes. You feel that you have no choice but to wash your hair because it’s oil. But constantly washing your hair and stripping it of its natural oils causes your scalp to overproduce oils, making things worse!

Sodium lauryl sulfate, a common ingredient in traditional shampoos, can strip your hair of sebum. This is the natural oil that your scalp produces. Stripping your hair of sebum causes your scalp to overproduce it. So, if you do suffer from oily hair, consider switching to shampoos containing white willow bark instead. White willow bark maintains healthy hair by serving as a gentler cleanser, washing out excess oils from your hair while encouraging regular sebum production.

White Willow Bark Tea DIY Recipe

Woman sitting on a chair and holding a mug.

You can benefit from white willow bark in tea form.

The delicious white willow bark tea serves as a natural pain reliever for muscle pain, headaches and other symptoms associated with pain. The tea is simple to prepare and should turn into a tantalizing reddish hue when boiled. White willow bark contains properties that are stronger than regular tea and can have side effects in certain situations or when taken in large quantities. Make sure to consult with a doctor before drinking white willow tea to confirm that it is safe for you to take. Follow this simple white willow bark tea DIY recipe to enjoy white willow bark tea at home.


  • 1-2 teaspoons white willow bark
  • 8 ounces water
  • Cinnamon (optional)
  • Honey (optional)


  • Add 1-2 teaspoons of white willow bark to 8 ounces of water.
  • Boil for 5-10 minutes.
  • Once boiled, turn off the heat and allow it to steep for 20-30 minutes.
  • Strain the bark out and add some cinnamon or honey to the tea for flavor.

White Willow Bark Side Effects Explained

Too much of anything isn’t good for you, and white willow bark is no exception. White willow bark side effects are similar to those of aspirin. These include abdominal pain, nausea, gastrointestinal bleeding, and ringing in the ears. It could become toxic when taken in high doses and should not be ingested if you are allergic to aspirin.

White willow bark is believed to be gentler than aspirin. However, it can aggravate certain conditions such as kidney disease and gastrointestinal ulcers. Salicin, the active ingredient in willow bark, can cause kidney damage when ingested in large quantities. According to Ludwig von Beethoven’s autopsy report, the large amount of salicin that he ingested contributed to his death.

Consult with a doctor to confirm that it is safe for you to take before ingesting white willow bark.

White Willow Bark Vs. Ibuprofen

When it comes to white willow bark vs. ibuprofen, white willow bark has fewer side effects and is less detrimental to your health. It does not present the risk of damaged lining to your stomach like ibuprofen. Although white willow bark may not be as fast-acting as ibuprofen or other chemically produced drugs, the effects are longer-lasting.


So, that’s it, the lowdown on nature’s alternative to aspirin. It’s so easy to become overly dependent on chemically produced pain relievers. They are so readily available, and why suffer from a headache or stomach pain when swallowing a capsule can eliminate the symptoms in less than 20 minutes?

But the trouble with constantly turning to aspirin or ibuprofen for every minor ache and pain is that these drugs could be detrimental to our health. Not only can our bodies become accustomed to these drugs, making them less effective, but high doses of aspirin and ibuprofen can have more negative side effects than their natural alternatives. White willow bark may be slower acting, but it is healthier for our bodies, and the effects last longer.