How to Use Willow


Of the 250 species of willow, the white willow and the black willow are most commonly used in healing. The white willow is a large elegant tree that grows by riverbanks and in damp places and can reach a height of 80 feet (24 metres). It can he found throughout Europe, North Africa and central Asia. The black or pussy willow is smaller, growing to around 20 feet (7 metres), also in damp areas, and is native to North America. It has a dark, rough hark. The name Salix comes from the Latin saline meaning to leap, for willows are very fast growing. Small wil­low cuttings easily rake root. For this reason, the while willow has come to represent purification and rebirth, and is an emblem of fertility. Branches from the tree were used in ‘beating the bounds’, an annual walk around parish boundaries, a springtime ritual of purification. In Ancient Greece, the willow was the emblem of Artemis, the moon goddess who governed fertility’, pregnancy and childbirth, agricul­ture, rivers and streams. Culpeper described the white willow as being ruled by the moon, and in pagan traditions, wood cut from the willow was used to make wands for lunar magic. The white willow is also depicted in poetry and art as a symbol of peace, patience and perseverance. To the Taoists, willow represents strength in weakness. In Japanese legend, the spine of the first human was made from willow.

The black willow has been associated with sadness and grief. Being under the dominion of the tickle-moon, the willow represents forsaken love, the sym­bol of the rejected lover in the language of flowers.

Herbal remedy

According to the doctrine of signatures, willow grew in damp, rheumy places so was used to treat rheumatic stiffness, as well as the aching in the mus­cles that accompanies flu and other infections. It was also used for its ability to bring down fevers, even in malaria. In 1763 the Reverend Edward Stone gave decoctions of the bark to rheumatism sufferers. He later isolated the active component salicin from the willow, from which is produced salicylic acid, the basis of aspirin. Willow bark is an excellent remedy for all the symptoms which are relieved by aspirin. Its astringent properties help to curb diarrhoea and dysentery, and to stem bleeding. It can be used for heavy periods, and externally to treat cuts and wounds. Willow can be made into gargles for sore-throats, and mouthwashes for mouth ulcers and bleeding gums. As a diuretic willow reduces fluid retention and helps eliminate toxins from the body via the urinary system. Willow can be used for head colds, flu, fevers, and as a tonic to restore strength after illness. The willow is likely to be a good remedy for circulatory problems, because, like aspirin, it helps prevent rapid blood clotting. The black willow has very similar properties to the white willow, and acts as a sexual sedative. It helps to clear congestion and pain in the ovarian and uterine area, and helps take away or lessen sexual desire.

Homeopathic remedy: Salix nigra

Salix nigra is said to moderate sexual passion and is prescribed for irritability of the genitals, pain in the testes and ovaries, painful periods, ovarian conges­tion and heavy periods, which are often related to fibroids. Salix is a good remedy, like the herb, for diarrhoea, sore gums, weakness after illness and aching muscles accompanying a fever.

The flower essence

Salix vitellina is used as a Bach Flower Remedy tot-people who tend to be bitter and resenttul. Willow people tend to blame others for their perceived mis­fortune, and begrudge others their better fortune. Such people are unable to see that their negative and destructive attitudes have much to do with their dis­appointment. Willow people are quietly resentful and tend to sulk, spreading their negativity to others, and are not cheered by attempts to help them or lift their spirits, accepting them as their right. They take little-interest in others’ lives and can become increasingly isolated. Willow helps people to recognize their nega­tivity and accept responsibility for it, so they can change their outlook on life, and shape their own destiny, rather than being a victim of it.

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About the Author: Greenery always attracts Arthur Kunkle. He has a big garden where he plants many fruits and vegetables. His passion for gardening motivates him to write and share different tips on gardening.

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