Monday, August 4, 2014

Willow Bark for Pain Relief

I evoked some curiosity from my running companions on Saturday by chewing willow bark as we travelled along the Gabrielino Trail in the upper Arroyo Seco.  Willow trees are abundant beside many of the canyon trails that I run along, and are a useful plant to know if you want to reduce pain and inflammation - the natural way.

Photo by Daisy Pliego.

Willow leaves and bark contain salicin, which is metabolized into salicylic acid in the body and is the chemical aspirin was derived from.  For thousands of years, willow has been used by cultures around the world in the same ways that people use aspirin today.  Hippocrates advised patients to chew the bark to reduce fever and inflammation.  The Chumash people, and other native Californians, also used willow for pain, aches and fevers - by making poultices, teas, or by eating the leaves.


Willow branches were also used by native Californians for the construction of their domed houses, bows, and acorn granaries.  I chew willow bark occasionally on my trail runs so that I, like the willow branch, may remain strong and flexible - and hopefully pain free!  

Willow in it’s natural form is a milder pain treatment that aspirin, although it can still upset the stomach if used in excess.  The bark - which contains the highest concentration of salicin - may be bitter, but the taste is well worth the benefit of knowing how to use this wonderful, medicinal plant.


Acorn granary made from willow branches.

4 comments:

  1. Your blog is rapidly becoming my favorite.

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  2. Wow! High praise coming from you, Petrea. Thank you.

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  3. You're welcome. I'm always glad to see a post from you.

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  4. More great info. Thanks Tim. Hope to work my way through it all.

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