Hi, I am Willow

Hi, I am WILLOW,

 I belong to the family Salicaceae. My tribe is called Saliceae and my genus is Salix spp. There are 4 common species of me where Don lives in the PNW, they are Pacific, Scoulers, Hookers and Sitka.

Don has a special relationship with me. In his younger days he would suffer occasionally from resentment. After using my essence in the form of a Bach Flower Remedy, however, he found that he was 90% relieved of this negative emotion.

Now he visits me regularly at one of his favourite beaches. I am a generally communicative being, so quite easy to talk to. Don and I talk often.

Don likes the thermos method of preparation. Don just cuts off some of my young branches and leaves, and places them into the hot water in the thermos. Be sure to let me know that is what you plan to do with me if you happen to be using me fresh. You can ask Don about the mysterious, broken thermos one day.

In his classes Don likes to tell a story by Rubert Sheldrake about when he was a young lad out walking with his grandfather. They came upon a row of Willow trees strung with barbed wire that was 30 feet in the air, stretching from tree to tree. Rupert looked at his grandfather in wonder and asked, “why”? His grandfather laughed and told young Rupert that these trees were once a barbed wire fence made from milled willow wood and that the wood had later sprouted and grew. Closer to home, Don has a friend whose grandfather taught him how to stick a piece of willow twig in the ground and they would grow. That was 50 years ago and today those willow trees are still growing there.

I have wonderful generative powers and some people make a rooting compound out of me.

I am important in the history of synthetic pharmaceutical medicine production as Bayer synthesized aspirin from me.  In 1838, salicylic acid was first prepared in pure form from willow bark.  In 1860, salicylic acid was synthesized.  Then acetylsalicylic acid was synthesized & aspirin was born.  

So, I contain salicin, as well as vitamin C (544 mg\100gr leaves – 10 x oranges) and protein. I was often used as a survival food. Good to know me if you get lost in the woods.

You can use my bark and\or leaves to reduce fevers, reduce the pain of rheumatism and headaches (if you respond well to aspirin you will respond well to willow).

I am helpful for stomach upset, diarrhea, painful menstruation as well as irritable bladder.

Science explains my actions this way, but that is not the whole story. They only deal with the material aspects of us herbs. We have been around, healing people, a lot longer than modern, reductionist science. Anyways this is their take on my biochemical process: the glycoside salicin, from which the body can split off salicylic acid, is the basis of the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects of willow. The analgesic actions of willow are typically slow-acting but last longer than standard aspirin products.

Aspirin and related anti-inflammatory drugs are notorious for irritating or damaging the stomach.  However, when taken in standard doses, I do not appear to produce this same side effect.  This may be partly due to the fact that most of the salicylic acid in me is present in chemical forms that are only converted into salicylic acid after absorption from the gut.   Evidence suggests that standard doses of Willow bark are the equivalent of one baby aspirin per day, rather than a full dose.   It appears that other ingredients may also play a role, such as tremulacin. 

Current research has found me an effective treatment for lower back pain and helpful for the pain associated with Osteoarthritis.

My leaves are valuable food. My branches are used to make baskets, nets, forceps and furniture.