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Willow Bark Extract (Salix alba)

Salix alba, the white willow, is a species of willow native to Europe and western and central Asia. The name derives from the white tone to the undersides of the leaves.

The wood is tough, strong, and light in weight, but has minimal resistance to decay. The stems (withies) from coppiced and pollarded plants are used for basket-making. Charcoal made from the wood was important for gunpowder manufacture. The bark tannin was used in the past for tanning leather.

Hippocrates, Galen, Pliny the Elder and others believed willow bark could ease aches and pains and reduce fevers. It has long been used in Europe and China for the attempted treatment of these conditions. This remedy is also mentioned in texts from ancient Egypt, Sumer, and Assyria. The first "clinical trial" was reported by Reverend Edward Stone, a vicar from Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire, England, in 1763 with a successful treatment of malarial fever with the willow bark. The bark is often macerated in ethanol to produce a tincture.

The active extract of the bark, called salicin, after the Latin name Salix, was isolated to its crystalline form in 1828 by Henri Leroux, a French pharmacist, and Raffaele Piria, an Italian chemist, who then succeeded in separating out the acid in its pure state. Salicylic acid, like aspirin, is a chemical derivative of salicin.

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For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.