The willows contain salicin, a compound used as the base in the production of aspirin. Therefore, willow bark and twigs can be used in situations that might normally call for that drug.
Specifically, willow is anti-inflammatory and can help relieve pain and inflammation. These properties make it useful in treating headaches or arthritic pain. It can be used to help reduce pain in bladder inflammations or infections. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, willow can be used to help reduce fevers during colds or influenza. It is also helpful in some allergic reactions, such as hay fever, where it acts to reduce swelling and inflammation of membranes.
Willow is also antiseptic, and a poultice of the freshly crushed bark or twigs can be used externally for mild scratches or wounds.
Varieties of poplar may be used in place of willow, as they are in the same plant family and share the same compounds.
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Melissa - August 2, 2007, 22:07
A few days ago, I had an intense headache. Mind-numbing. I searched around for aspirin but I just couldn't find any. The cupboard was bare. No 222s, no asprin: nothing. Heck, if I had any of the kid's Tempra left, I'd have used that. Nothing. However, I swear I happened to have a bag of Willow Bark that a friend had given me last fall. She told me to make tea out of it for headaches and fever. When she gave it to me, I basically laughed at her, but I kept it so I'd not totally hurt her feelings. Mostly, I just kept it because I felt sorry for the tree. And I felt sorry for her too. So now, I was down to nothing, or this silly old bag of willow bark. On a lark, I put some of the bark in a pot, shoved it on the stove, and simmered it. I shall make some tea! I figured a simple hot beverage might give me some relief, never mind the willow bark. After a few minutes, I took the pot of willow bark off of the stove, and poured some of it into a glass. I took a swig. BITTER!!! You people drink this stuff?!?? Bitter Willow! Whatever - I reached for some honey, and drenched the tea. It was still bitter in the after taste, but I could just bear it. I was irritated with the whole disaster, and tempted to just dump the whole lot down the sink, but after all this effort, I was determined to play it out. I hate wasting stuff - an old miserly habit. I finally finished my cup, and got occupied with some other chores. After a while, I realized I had forgotten all about my headache (??!!). Once, I recalled my former headache, I struggled to find it. Hello!?? Headache!?? Where'd ya go? It was gone. My blasted headache was actually gone. Took about 20 minutes. It was too severe to have disappeared this fast on its own. It was gone, and I have nothing but the willow bark to thank for it. So here I am, a few days later, about to buy some Willow Bark. Go figure...
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