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White Willow
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

White Willow Usage

Written by FoundHealth.


Effect of White Willow on Osteoarthritis

White willow can be used in the treatment for osteoarthritis as an alternative to aspirin.

Read more about Osteoarthritis and White Willow.

Effect of White Willow on Low Back Pain and Sciatica

Extract of the herb white willow appears to be helpful for acute and chronic back pain and sciatica, presumably because of its similarity to aspirin. White willow helps to inhibit pain and, to a...

Read more about Low Back Pain and Sciatica and White Willow.

What Is White Willow Used for Today?

As interest in natural medicine has grown, many people have begun to turn back to white willow as an alternative to aspirin. One double-blind, placebo-controlled trial found it effective for back pain , and another found it helpful for osteoarthritis . It is also used for such conditions as bursitis , dysmenorrhea , tension headaches , migraine headaches , rheumatoid arthritis , and tendonitis . However, two recent studies failed to find it effective for rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.

Aspirin and related anti-inflammatory drugs are notorious for irritating or damaging the stomach. However, when taken in typical doses, willow does not appear to produce this side effect to the same extent. 1 This may be partly due to the fact that most of the salicylic acid provided by white willow comes from salicin and other chemicals that are only converted to salicylic acid after absorption into the body. 2 Other evidence suggests that standard doses of willow bark are the equivalent of one baby aspirin daily rather than a full dose. 3 This latter finding raises an interesting question: If willow provides only a small amount of salicylic acid, how can it work? The most likely answer seems to be that other constituents besides salicin play a role. Another possibility may be that the studies finding benefit were flawed, and that it actually does not work.


  1. European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy. Salicis cortex. Exeter, UK: ESCOP; 1996-1997:2. Monographs on the Medicinal Uses of Plant Drugs, Fascicule 4.
  2. Meier B, Sticher O, Julkunen-Tiitto R. Pharmaceutical aspects of the use of willows in herbal remedies. Planta Med. 54(6):559-60.
  3. Chrubasik S, Eisenberg E, Balan E, Weinberger T, Luzzati R, Conradt C. Treatment of low back pain exacerbations with willow bark extract: a randomized double-blind study. Am J Med. 109(1):9-14.


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