INSTANT SURVIVAL TIP: Willow Bark – Nature’s Painkiller

       By  John A. Heatherly, Author of The Survival Template photo by aresauburnâ„¢

For centuries, willow bark has been used as treatment for a myriad of ailments.  The bark contains a chemical called salicin that  is similar to aspirin, although some studies have identified other compounds that have “antioxidant, fever reducing, antiseptic, and immune boosting properties.”*  Some show that willow can reduce pain and inflammation at much lower doses than aspirin.  It has been shown to help with headaches, low back pain, and osteoarthritis, and is also recommended for the treatment of menstrual cramps, fever, flu, bursitis, and tendonitis.

How should willow bark be used?  For adults, administer as a tea: “Boil 1 – 2 tsp of dried bark in 8 oz of water and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes; let steep for ½ hour; drink 3 – 4 cups daily.”*  Willow is not recommended for children under the age of 16 due to the dangers of Reye syndrome.

As with all treatments, there are some precautions.  For example: those who are allergic to salicylates should not use willow.  For more information and a thorough listing of usages, precautions, interactions, and depletions, please see The University of Maryland Medical Center website, listed below.

Does anyone use willow bark as a painkiller or in other ways?  Bonus Tip:  The wood harvested from willow trees works very well in building bow-drill fires, though that is a different topic altogether!


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© Copyright 2012 The Survival Mom, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Survival Mom
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John's exploration of wilderness survival includes coursework at Tom Brown Jr.’s TrackerSchool, military service as a Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (S.E.R.E.) Instructor, and the study of leadership as an Officer. He is the author of THE SURVIVAL TEMPLATE and THE CAVE AND THE SEA, A NOVEL which can be found at http://JohnAHeatherly.com/.

(5) Readers Comments

  1. Any information on positively identifying a particular type of willow tree, or even a class of willow trees? There should be an app for that! LOL

  2. I was wondering, there are several types of willow bark…the heavy thick bark of the trunk, the slightly less craggy bark on the limbs the thin pealable bark on the whips….which to use.. also is it the outer bark or the inner bark?

  3. Why brew a willow bark tisane when aspirin tablets have a predictable dose of the active ingredient, are cheap, in plentiful supply, and store well in their bottle? Who wants to have to brew a tisane with an unknown level of active ingredient when one can just down a couple of clean aspirins with a swallow of water? If you chose self-dosing with homemade willow bark tisanes, do remember that they like any form of aspirin can be dangerous if given to small children or given to adults who are on some sort of blood-thining meication.

    • Magpie57….. Well, this *is* a survivalist site, so I would imagine it has to do with sourcing out something you don’t have or have run out of and can’t get.

      It is amazing how we take for granted what God has provided for our well being before man had gotten his hands on it and synthsized and standardized it.

  4. The bark of a tree for any kind of consumption almost always refers to the inner (cambium) layer of the bark. Old timers around here just use the twigs to make the willow tisane.
    magpie – the aspirin is all chemically concocted now. some prefer nature with all her unpredictability. and if TEOTWAWKI happens you will eventually run out of store bought drugs.

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