|White willow bark is a tree native to Europe and Asia. Ancient Egyptians used white willow for inflammation. The active ingredient in white willow bark is a compound called salicin. The White Willow is often referred to as the “herbal aspirin”. The body converts the salicin in white willow bark into salicylic acid, an agent that can help reduce our level of pain causing compounds known as prostaglandins. This ingredient also helps increase blood flow which is critical to sexual performance.|
|Scientific Name(s): Salix alba L., Salix purpurea L., Salix fragilis L., and several other species. Family: Salicaceae (willow family)Common Name(s): Willow , weidenrinde , white willow ( S. alba ), purple osier willow/basket willow ( S. purpurea ), crack willow ( S. fragilis )|
Salix genus plants were used since the time of Hippocrates (400 BC) when patients were advised to chew on the bark to reduce fever and inflammation. Willow bark has been used throughout the centuries in China and Europe to the present for the treatment of pain (particularly low back pain and osteoarthritis), headache, and inflammatory conditions such as bursitis and tendinitis. The bark of white willow contains salicin, which is a chemical similar to aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid). It is thought to be responsible for the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects of the herb. In 1829, salicin was used to develop aspirin. White willow appears to be slower than aspirin to bring pain relief, but its effects may last longer.
Willow is available in several dosage forms, including tablets, capsules, powder, and liquid. Willow bark has been used for analgesia at daily doses of 1 to 3 g of bark, corresponding to salicin 60 to 120 mg. A clinical study of patients with lower back pain used willow bark at a dose of salicin 120 to 240 mg/day. A proprietary extract of willow bark, Assalix , was standardized to contain 15% salicin. The pharmacokinetics of salicylic acid delivered from willow bark have been studied, and plasma half-life is approximately 2.5 hours. Another pharmacokinetic study of salicylic acid from salicin found peak levels within 2 hours after oral administration.
Patients with known hypersensitivity to aspirin should avoid any willow-containing product. This caution also applies to patients with asthma, impaired thrombocyte function, vitamin K antagonistic treatment, diabetes, gout, kidney or liver conditions, peptic ulcer disease, and in any other medical conditions in which aspirin is contraindicated.
Avoid use because of the lack of information regarding safety and efficacy during pregnancy and lactation.
In general, drug interactions associated with salicylates may apply to willow-containing products. Therefore, avoid use with alcohol, barbiturates, sedatives, and other salicylate-containing products because of additive irritant effects and adverse reactions on the GI tract andblood platelets. Willow may also interact with oral anticoagulants (eg, warfarin),seizure medications (eg, phenytoin, valproate acid), and other medications (eg, methotrexate).
Reports from clinical trials primarily document GI discomfort, such as nausea and stomachache, as well as dizziness and rash. An anaphylactic reaction to willow bark has been reported.