Willow: Salix (alba)

The bark of the white willow tree has been used for thousands of years with historical records dating back to Hippocrates (400BC). Chewing the bark of willow was advised to reduce fevers and inflammation. It is still used today for the treatment of pain, particular lower back pain and osteoarthritis, headaches and inflammatory conditions.

In the 1800s aspirin was developed from salicin, the pain relieving and anti-inflammatory compound in willow bark. White willow is slower acting than aspirin, but it is believed that the effects may be felt for longer.

Willow can be used alongside rosemary to treat headaches, while combining it with cinnamon and meadowsweet can be used for lower back pain.

In folklore, Willow is the tree associated with Bridget, the Maiden aspect of the triple goddess; the great ‘shape shifter’. Thinking about the way the silvery underside of the leaves move in the breeze creating a shimmering, changing image, this seems to be based on a visual association with willow. Symbolizing feminine energy, the willows flexible branches express movement and change rather than resistance. The willow tree is also associated as a tree of enchantment and dreaming, intuition, and deep emotions, enhancing our confidence to follow our intuition and inspiring the imagination. 

Willow Bark Tea
Willow bark tea can be made by collecting the bark in spring time. Remember when collecting to only take only small amounts form any individual tree and never take a complete ring from the trunk as this may cause infection, and ultimately death for the tree. It may be easier and less stressful for the tree to take a few new young twigs instead.

Place your collected willow bark or young twigs in a pan and bring to the boil.
Switch off the pan when it has reached boiling point and allow to steep for 20 minutes.
Strain and drink.
Dose for the tea is half a cup 2 or 3 times daily.

A tincture of willow can be made by collecting the bark as before, placing it in a glass container and covering with vodka.
Place in a dark position and leave for 2 weeks. Strain and use as required.
The dose for willow tincture is 1 to 2 ml 3 times a day.
The tincture can also be diluted for a mouth wash.