by Regan Schwartz

Dried willow bark on a table with fresh willow leaves and a cup of willow tea.

Salix alba/nigra 

Energetics: cool, dry, tonifying

Actions: astringent, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anodyne, anti-rheumatic, diaphoretic

Willow is such a powerful friend, whose gentle flexibility belies her strength.  Her phytochemical makeup, full of salicylates and tannins, gives her amazing anti inflammatory, astringent, and pain-relieving properties that are effective internally and topically.  Willow can help to dispel heat and soothe a hot headache, anxious stomach, or overworked joint.  

My work with willow is largely topical, though I do call on her internally when I need a cooling anti inflammatory.  Topically, willow’s salicylate content, astringency, and antimicrobial action make it an excellent ally for skin that is congested and inflamed. You will find willow bark in my Spot Treatment, Blemish Stick, and Clarifying Facial Elixir.  A bottle of willow bark tincture is always on our counter, ready to help us cool down and to provide relief from aches and pains.

Magically, willow is associated with the moon and water, witches, the feminine, death and the underworld.  Willow lives at the watery margins - a bridge between worlds.  Her flexibility reminds us to flow with our emotions and the emotions of others.  Build understanding, connection, and empathy, willow reminds us with gentle insistence. After all, we are all portals between worlds - between yesterday and tomorrow, between ancestors and descendants, between earth and sky.