Sunday, October 30, 2011

Under the Willow Tree

I've always loved weeping willow trees.  They are so naturally relaxed.  Just look at them.  Sitting quietly under the boughs of a young weeping willow like this (or find an old one!) is guaranteed to have a calming effect.  Breathe deeply, close your eyes, feel the wind blowing gently...
Willow trees have other natural medicinal uses as well.

White Willow: Weeping Willow is the graceful tree that provides nature's aspirin. In fact, pharmaceutical aspirin was originally created from a chemical very similar to one found in white willow bark. Today there are more reasons than ever to use this herb. Medical research shows that this chemical in white willow (called salicin) not only reduces fever and relieves pain and inflammation but also may help prevent heart attack, stroke, digestive tract cancers and migraine headaches.

Herbal experts say that white willow bark will work on fever, pain and inflammation. It will stand in for aspirin, but not quite as well. The salicylate content of willow bark varies. The herb may also help people who suffer from migraine headaches, since use of low-dose aspirin has been shown to significantly reduce attacks.

To make a medicinal drink, soak one teaspoon of powdered bark per cup of cold water for eight hours. Strain it and drink up to three cups a day. White willow tastes bitter and astringent. To improve the taste, you can add sugar or honey and lemon. You can also mix it into an herbal beverage tea.

Aspirin upsets some people's stomachs, but most herbalists say white willow bark rarely causes this problem. If stomach upset, nausea or ringing in the ears develops, reduce your dose or discontinue use. Pregnant women and those with chronic gastrointestinal conditions such as ulcers, colitis or Crohn's disease should not use this herb.

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