Willow bark Benefits & Information

Caution needed if allergic to salicylate compounds. Best avoided when breastfeeding.


Willow bark has been used for rheumatic complaints for centuries. The salicylic acid compounds in the willow bark extract are responsible for its anti-inflammatory and pain-killing actions, and it was salicylic acid itself that was a precursor to modern-day aspirin. Willow bark extract can be used in any muscular or joint ailments that are inflammatory in nature and manifest themselves as pain or swelling. It is the best treatment for back pain, whether of recent origin or long-standing. Recommendations for using willow bark include any type of arthritis, inflammation of the joints, muscle ache (especially if secondary to joint ache), muscle tension and tension headache.

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Purple willow (Salix purpurea) products are superior to white willow (Salix alba) products, but not easy to acquire.


Willow bark combines well with other anti-rheumatic and anti-inflammatory remedies such as wild yam, liquorice and celery seed.

How to use

The tincture can be added directly to the anti-inflammatory ointments (5ml per 20g of cream) or taken internally. In my experience the tincture dosage needed for the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect to be taken internally is quite high and may prove tricky to achieve (willow bark extract has an unpleasant strong taste); therefore I would recommend the tablets made from the freeze-dried extract.


Adults: 1-4 tablets a day (each tablet should provide the equivalent of 8g of dried herb); or 1-2.3ml diluted with some water, 1-3 times a day, tincture strength 1:2 – if you are brave enough to tackle the taste!

Children (2-16years old): adjust the adult dose downwards, depending on the age of the child – see post 6.

Willow bark Benefits & Information

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