Willow Bark Tea
Willow bark tea is an herbal infusion made from the outer peel of the young branches of the willow tree. Of the several varieties, the white willow bark is mostly used for making the red-colored tea. Because of the numerous health benefits it comes along with, this tea serves as a beneficial beverage.
History and Origin
The origin of willow bark tea can be traced alongside the history of aspirin itself. Clay tablets from ancient Egypt and Sumer mention medicines derived from willow and other foliage rich in salicylate. Hippocrates also referred to the use of the salicin-rich willow bark extract as a febrifuge around 400 BC.
It was during the mid-1700s, that this extract started being consumed in various forms such as tea with regard to its desirable effects on fever, swelling, and pain.
Health Benefits: What Is It Good For
It has been clinically proven that the tea is highly advantageous for those who experience migraine attacks or recurrent headaches as it reduces the pressure in blood vessels and brain capillaries due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
The presence of salicin, alongside other compounds like flavonoids, polyphenols and salicylates, intensifies its anti-inflammatory effect, helping to ward off bone degradation, swelling and pain, thereby minimizing the chances of osteoarthritis or even providing relief during a painful episode.
In a study conducted on the same, patients with osteoarthritis were given willow bark extracts which had a positive impact in relieving the pain.
For The Heart
The blood thinning properties in willow bark suppress the risk of internal clotting, hence minimizing chances of strokes or heart attacks. Intake of 1-2 cups of this tea on a daily basis may work towards maintaining a sound heart health.
It is often claimed that white willow bark tea aids in weight loss. Although not clinically proven, the metabolism-enhancing and fat-reducing substances, along with its salicin content is said to be responsible for shedding the extra calories.
For Menstrual Pain
Another benefit of its anti-inflammatory effect is that it soothes the inflamed uterine lining and balances the secretion of prostaglandins, thus easing menstrual pain.
The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties help in keeping bacterial and viral ailments like cough, cold and fever at bay. Moreover, willow bark acts as a powerful antioxidant, preventing the adverse effects caused by the reaction of free radicals with the cells to ameliorate overall immunity.
The antimicrobial properties of salicylic acid combat bacteria that cause acne and other skin-related issues. Its salicin content, as well as the antioxidants like Vitamin C and beta hydroxy acids (exfoliants) help in fighting wrinkles, fine lines, rough skin and even pigmentation.
Besides drinking, gargling with willow bark tea is beneficial for relieving toothaches or swollen gums owing to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.
Studies suggest that willow bark, containing anti-cancerous properties, has succeeded in inhibiting approximately 75% malignant cells in different types of cancer such as lung, colon and myeloid leukemia.
How to Make White Willow Bark Tea
- Heat water in a kettle
- Add 2 teaspoons of willow bark chips for every 8 ounces of water
- Let the bark simmer in the boiling water for 10-15 minutes (depending on the quantity) and then take it off the heat
- Steep for 30 minutes or longer for a strong flavor
- Strain the tea with a mesh
- Because of its bark-like flavor feel free to add taste enhancers like lemon, cinnamon or honey
You can also add ginger to relish a flavorsome homemade willow bark ginger tea.
Safety and Precautions
Due to the presence of salicin in willow bark, people who are allergic to salicylates like aspirin should avoid its intake.
The side effects of over consumption albeit mild, are nausea, vomiting, stomach upset and skin rash.
The salicylates in the tea may be detrimental to the health of women during pregnancy or in the postnatal period when they are still breastfeeding.
Where to Buy
You can purchase willow bark tea bags or pre-chopped organic willow bark in pouches in certain health food outlets, online as well as in herbal stores.
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