White willow bark is used in natural skin care products for its antioxidant, antimicrobial, astringent, anti aging, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Though there are a number of varieties of willow, the type used in skin care is usually derived from white willow trees (Salix alba). They typically grow from 30 to 100 feet tall, and have pale-colored, hairy leaves. They are fast growing, but fragile, and often vulnerable to diseases, insects, and fungi. Their broad, round-topped crown makes them attractive yard trees, but they’re also effective as farmstead windbreaks and wildlife shelters.
The bark of the willow trees used to be used for artificial limbs, because it is lightweight and doesn’t splinter easily. It is still used to make boxes and crates, table tops, wooden novelties, and pulp. It’s been most prized, however, because it is a natural source of salicylic acid—a compound similar to aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid).
The Discovery of Salicin
It was in the early 1800s that Italian pharmacists first isolated and identified salicin from white willow bark. This natural wonder had been used to ease pain for centuries, though. Hippocrates, ancient Egyptians, and Native Americans were all known to have chewed on the bark and leaves, brewed willow bark tea, and used it in warm baths to help ease aches and pains and reduce fevers.
Salicin is converted to salicylic acid in the body, after which it goes to work reducing inflammation and easing pain. In the mid-1800s, chemists learned how to synthesize a more potent salicylic acid in the laboratory—which is now what we find in aspirin—but white willow bark remains a great source of the real stuff.
How White Willow Bark Benefits the Skin
Anti-aging: A 2010 study reported that salicin can help reduce the visible signs of skin aging. Researchers applied a serum product containing 0.5 percent salicin on the faces of women aged 35 to 70, every day for 12 weeks. Results showed significant improvements in wrinkles, roughness, pore size, radiance, and overall appearance after only one week, with additional improvements in hyper-pigmentation, firmness, and jawline contour after four weeks.
There are certain genes in the skin that affect skin aging. As we get older, the expression of these genes change, which leads to things like wrinkling and sagging. Scientists know that if they can somehow keep these genes acting like they do when we’re young, the skin will do a better job of resisting the appearance of aging. In a 2011 study, they found that topical application of salicin helped increase the expression of genes responsible for youthful skin, while decreasing the expression of those responsible for aging skin.
These are preliminary studies and we need more research to learn more about how salicin may effect the skin, but signs are extremely positive so far. In the meantime, we already know that willow bark extract provides a number of other skin benefits:
Anti-inflammatory: Inflammation is the source of a lot of skin problems, including acne, rosacea, psoriasis, eczema, premature aging, and more. Taming inflammation helps improve skin condition all the way around, and is especially helpful in products for sensitive skin.
Reduces breakouts: You’ve seen synthetic salicylic acid listed on over-the-counter acne products. Why not use the natural source of the stuff instead? It’s much gentler and will not result in the burning, peeling, and sensitivity that synthetic salicylic acid can cause. Willow bark extract naturally exfoliates skin and clears pores to help reduce breakouts and give skin a clearer, healthier appearance.
Smooths fine lines and wrinkles: The same exfoliating action that reduces acne also helps smooth fine line and wrinkles. Willow bark is a source of natural hydroxy acids that gently exfoliate dead skin cells on the surface of skin to reveal younger, newer cells underneath. The result is smoother, softer skin.
Antioxidants: Like most plant extracts, willow bark contains flavonoids and tannins—powerful antioxidants that help protect skin from damaging free radicals and aid in skin rejuvenation.
Antimicrobial: Willow bark banishes microorganisms, which helps clear bacteria on skin that can cause acne and other issues. Laboratory tests have shown that willow bark works against the bacteria that cause acne, making it an effective addition in cleaners, toners, and moisturizing formulas. It’s also a great natural preservative.
Chinese physicians have used white willow since 500 B.C. to relieve pain and lower fevers. White willow was also used in ancient Assyrian, Egyptian, and Greek medicine as well. Greek physicians Dioscorides, Hippocrates, and Galen recommended white willow to remedy fevers and pain. Native American tribes, including the Cherokee, Blackfoot, Iroquois, and Eskimo peoples, created a tea from closely related species of the bark to relieve headaches, fever, sore muscles, chills, rheumatism, and general aches and pains. White willow was used in Europe to stop vomiting, remove warts, and suppress sexual desire in addition to treating fevers and pains.
In the mid-1700s, white willow was used in Britain as a remedy for malaria since the bark was similar to cinchona bark, a South American bark used to treat malaria. In 1828, European chemists extracted the constituent salicin from white willow bark and converted it to salacylic acid. At the end of the nineteenth century, acetylsalicylic acid was synthetically produced and aspirin was born. Due to the cheap and easy production of aspirin, white willow eventually lost its popularity as a pain and fever reliever.
In modern times, however, white willow is being recalled as nature’s aspirin and gaining popularity around the world as an alternative treatment for fevers and inflammatory and painful conditions such as bursitis, tendinitis, headaches, rheumatoid arthritis , back pain, osteoarthritis, menstrual cramps, and muscle aches. White willow has been approved by the German Commission E for treating fevers, rheumatic ailments, and headaches. In France, white willow is used to remedy headaches, toothache pain, tendinitis, and muscle sprains. The British Herbal Compendium has administered white willow as a treatment for rheumatic and arthritic conditions, colds, and influenza.
White willow bark is used in the same manner as is aspirin. In fact, aspirin was originally created from research into White willow bark. As nature’s aspirin, White willow continues to be an important herb to be kept in our awareness if not in the medicine chest (aspirin is just too easy to keep and use). White willow bark reduces fever, relieves pain, prevents migraine headaches, aids in reducing the onset of some cancers, reduces the frequency of heart attack and stroke, relieves inflammation, and tastes simply awful. The active chemical in White willow is called salicin.
Chinese physicians used willow to reduce pain and inflammation from before the time of Christ. It was not until about 1750 that Rev. Edmund Stone md. of Oxfordshire, England experimented with White willow in an attempt to treat malaria with a local source rather than the expensive and difficult to obtain cinchona bark which contains quinine, an effective antimalarial drug. The good Reverend used the bark from White willow because it tasted similar to the bitter cinchona bark. When he gave it to the local patients, their pain and fever were reduced even though it did not control the malaria. Medicinal applications of the herb caught on quickly and word spread of its effectiveness against pain, inflammation, and fever. White willow trees began to be transported throughout Europe and the Americas for medical purposes. Today, the willow goes largely unidentified because of the introduction of aspirin in readily useable form in 1899.
The inner bark of the tree was once harvested for salicin which was converted to salacylic acid, however, acetylsalicylic acid was eventually synthetically produced so the tree lost it popularity to aspirin. The salicylic acid in white willow bark lowers the body’s levels of prostaglandins a hormone like compounds that is responsible for aches, pain, and inflammation. Many physicians and herbalist still prefer the use of White willow to that of synthetic aspirin because of the lower incidence of side effects associated with the herb. The bark also remains popular secondary to its content of tannins, flavonoids, phenolic glycosides. The high content of tannins are believed to be responsible for relieving gastrointestinal complications.
The active ingredient in White willow, salacylic acid, has a synergistic effect when combined with Ephedra to promote the thermogenic process. Thermogenesis is the rapid conversion of the food we digest into heat before the calories can be stored as fat.
White willow bark still has a usefulness that should not be ignored. Aspirin upsets some people’s stomachs, but white willow bark seems to be free of this problem. Experts point out that white willow bark will work on almost anything you take aspirin for. The dosage is just more difficult to control from bark than from the pharmaceutical company’s brewed up standards. It will likely require several cups of white willow bark tea to give the effectiveness of two standard aspirin tablets. If your willow bark reduces pain and fever, the same dose will act to produce the preventive benefits of aspirin which include warding off stroke and heart attack, combating certain types of cancer (digestive tract), preventing migraine headaches, reducing the frequency of internal blood clots, and reducing toothache.
If you grow your own, you may use fresh if you strip and chop into fine particles to get the most fresh surfaces available to the water. You may steam fresh bark to make the chemical available also (do not boil). From the local store, you will likely get powdered bark. This works well and will store well, in addition, you may dry and powder your own bark for future use. To make a tea, soak one teaspoon of powdered bark in a cup of cold water for eight hours. This allows the salicin to dissolve into the water (it is slow to get into solution). Strain out the bark and drink. You may make as much as you want in advance but refrigerate no more than 48 hours after which it will lose its effectiveness. This stuff really tastes nasty (commonly called bitter and astringent) so you may want to add whatever you can think of the make it drinkable.
The salicylic acid in white willow bark lowers the body’s levels of prostaglandins, hormonelike compounds that can cause aches, pain, and inflammation. While white willow bark takes longer to begin acting than aspirin, its effect may last longer. And, unlike aspirin, it doesn’t cause stomach bleeding or other known adverse effects.
Relieve acute and chronic pain, including headache, back and neck pain, muscle aches, and menstrual cramps. The effectiveness of white willow bark for easing these and other types of discomforts results from its power to lower prostaglandin levels.
Control arthritis discomforts. Some arthritis sufferers taking white willow bark have experienced reduced swelling and inflammation, and eventually increased mobility, in the back, knees, hips, and other joints.
Today, White willow is prescribe by physicians and herbal specialists for a host of conditions including the following:
Chronic dysentery, Prevention of strokes and blood clots, Arthritis – the herb reduces the swelling and inflammation associated with the arthritis, promoting increase mobility; Fever and chills – the aspirin type properties can help break a fever; Headaches, Toothaches, Tendonitis and neuralgia, Treatment of eczem, Menstrual cramps, Muscle aches, and acts as a natural diuretic.
A vacuum distilled extract of the black willow (Salix nigra) tree containing 10% salicylic acid. It is an all-natural method to achieve cosmetic benefits including:
A botanical alternative to synthetic salicylic acid.
Enhancement of skin cell turnover to improve the health and appearance of photoaged skin.
Antimicrobial activity against P. acnes makes it a good candidate for skin cleansing products.
Generally, Willow bark extract has several benefits in skin care but will help to stimulate the skin and cell growth and also has excellent astringent qualities.
Cosmetic properties of willow bark extract is majorly attentioned and applied as an astringent and has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and antipyretic properties. It is also used to stimulate circulation. The main constituents of willow bark extract are phenolic acids; such as salicin, salicortin, fragilin, populin, triandrin and vimalin, as well as flavonoids, tannins (gallotannins and catechin-type tannins) and minerals.It also contains salicylic acid, which stimulates new cell formation by helping the old skin to slough off.It is also used for the extraction of pure and natural salicylic acid, which is also used in our range in some selected products. Salix Alba Bark Extract is commonly known as Willow Bark Extract, a natural extract derived from bark of Salix Alba, natural source of salicylic acid (yielding 2%) used as an exfoliant, antibacterial, soothing anti-inflammatory (high in quercetin and rutin), analgesic, anti-irritant, antioxidant, anti-microbial, anti-viral and effective against acne-causing bacteria.
Willow Salix Alba is commonly known as white willow,the bark and leaves are very effective to break and bring down minor fevers and colic.The bark is most helpful to treat rheumatism, arthritis and gout, as well as diarrhea and dysentery, headache and neuralgia. The pain relieving action as analgesic is due to the inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis by the salicin derivatives, which cause sensitization of peripheral pain receptors, and “natural aspirin” from the willow bark seems to have far less side effects than the synthetic aspirin made by pharmaceutical companies.
Willow bark contains salicin, a substance that when taken orally is converted by the digestive process to salicylic acid (beta hydroxy acid). The process of converting willow bark to salicylic acid requires the presence of enzymes to turn the salicin into salicylic acid. The digestive conversion process that turns salicin into saligenin, and then into salicylic acid, is complex. Further, salicin, much like salicylic acid, is stable only under acidic conditions. The likelihood that willow bark in the tiny amount used in cosmetics can mimic the effectiveness of salicylic acid is at best problematic, and in all likelihood impossible. However, willow bark may indeed have some anti-inflammatory benefits for skin because, in this form, it appears to retain more of its aspirin-like composition “mild” antimicrobials. We recommend that every formula undergo stability and microbial testing to ensure adequate preservation.
There was a time when most cosmetics and beauty products that you can find are all full of chemicals and other synthetic ingredients. Fortunately, today’s health and beauty industry is seeing the importance of natural and organic skin care. Quality beauty products you will see today now contain natural and organic sourced ingredients. Today we will share some benefits of one of our specialists favorite organic skin care ingredients; willow bark.
Willow bark comes from either the black or white willow bark tree, and offers both health and beauty benefits. Willow bark is used in Natural Skin Care formulas due to it’s natural content of salicylic acid. Salicylic acid products remove old and dead skin cells from your face and body and helps make way for new and fresh skin cells. As you know, dead skin cells can make your face look dull and haggard. As we age, we need to dissolve skin cells more often. By using products with willow bark extract, you can make your skin youthful and radiant again.
Willow bark also offers anti-inflammatory properties that can relieve swelling and sensitivity. This makes willow bark ideal for conditions of rosacea as well as sensitive blemishes, cystic acne and even aging skin. Inflammation can lead to premature aging, so it is essential to minimize inflammation of the skin. Willowbark can also minimize age spots and discoloration due to it’s mild exfoliating properties. Internally, if you use aspirin for pain but find it upsets your stomach, perhaps consider willow bark extract for a more gentle solution.