How To Make Aspirin From Willow Bark

Tony Q
By Tony Q October 16, 2020 06:53

How To Make Aspirin From Willow Bark

You probably see the name “Bayer” every time you open the medicine cabinet, and most likely it’s on a bottle of aspirin. The Bayer pharmaceutical company originally trademarked the word “aspirin”, and first started marketing it in 1899 as a synthetic form of the naturally occurring chemical “salicin”found in the willow tree.

The name has become iconic now. Aspirin is the generic title for any acetylsalcylic acid medication used to reduce pain, fever, or inflammation. It is so widely used that it’s even on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines.

Being easy to produce, aspirin is both cheap and readily available. It has some side effects, however, one of which I and many other people experience: a nasty stomach cramp. Using an ancient method our ancestors knew of utilizing the willow tree, I get the medicinal benefits of salicin, the active ingredient in aspirin, without the tummy ache.

Related: How to Make Cabbage Bandages to Treat Inflammation and Joint Pain

Hippocrates wrote about it and so did the Egyptians. Before aspirin, the bark of the willow tree has long been known to treat aches and pains. How to cultivate and prepare it for consumption is valuable knowledge, in the event medicine should become scarce, or handy when far away from a drug store. The process is surprisingly simple and not particularly time consuming.

You probably already know where a whole cluster of willows are. They grow naturally in a large part of the world, and are extensively cultivated wherever they don’t. Most willows are easily identifiable by their slender, bladed leaves.How to Make Aspirin from Willow Bark With over 300 species, the good news is that all willows contain some amount of salicin, but the strength varies. It is claimed by some that White Willows are stronger medicinally, but I do a simple taste test of the bark- the more bitter (like an aspirin tablet) the better, I find.

Related: 12 Wild Medicinal Plants You Should Harvest This Fall

The smaller branches work best, so I focus on harvesting these. Using a knife, I peel the bark off of them and the larger twigs attached, similar to the technique used in peeling a potato, but not too deep. There is an outer layer of bark, and an inner which has a greenish color to it, this is what holds the most medicine. The darker wood beneath it all should be discarded.How to Make Aspirin from Willow Bark

How to Make Aspirin from Willow Bark I then cut up the pieces I’m left with using a pair of scissors, enough to fit the bark onto a table spoon for easy measuring.How to Make Aspirin from Willow Bark I like taking it as a tea because it is a less labor intensive and quicker way to medicate, but some people will dry and crush the bark into a powder and put into capsules to make a pill.

Getting the right dosage of pure salicin into the pill can be tricky however, and, as you can imagine, making a fine powder and then trying to pack it into tiny capsules can be frustratingly annoying, and take an awful lot of time.

To brew one cup of tea, I put two cups of water to boil. Once the water is roiling, I drop in two tablespoons of cut willow bark.How to Make Aspirin from Willow Bark Water will evaporate and soak into the bark, which is why I recommend the measurement of two cups and two tablespoons for one cup of finished tea. The bark is boiled for ten minutes, then removed from the heat and steeped for another ten minutes or more. The bark is then just strained out and it’s ready to drink.How to Make Aspirin from Willow BarkYou will notice it has a bitter taste, but not overwhelmingly so. It is important to treat this tea the same you would over the counter aspirin, practicing the same precautions. No more than 3-4 cups per day is recommended, and probably not at all if you have liver or kidney problems.

Do not take it before surgery, just as you wouldn’t take aspirin, as it could prevent the blood from coagulating. I personally do not feel any of the stomach aches that I usually do taking aspirin, and that reason alone is why I almost always use willow bark instead. Perhaps you might enjoy the same benefit.

Related: 5 Forbidden Remedies That Should Be Legal

As I’ve said, willow trees can be found quite easily anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, and the odds are good that you can find one planted in more southern regions, too. They are useful for soaking up water and are utilized in flood areas for that purpose. A good place to find a healthy specimen is near ponds, rivers, lakes, or any bodies of water in general.

Willows often have long, slender, lance-like leaves, the tree itself looked at from a distance having a “bushy” appearance and wide crow. To pinpoint a particular species, use something called a “tree leaf key”. These can be found online, or in a field manual similar to the excellent one published but the National Audubon Society.

Most medications either come from Mother Nature, or use her as a model. Nature is the store and model to self reliance. With this willow bark tea alternative you don’t have to sacrifice effectiveness, as it has been time-tested to work over thousands of years. It is shared wisdom from deep down into the roots of human resourcefulness, and should be known by all who prepare to live deliberately. Or, at least it could come in handy if it all hits the fan.

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Tony Q
By Tony Q October 16, 2020 06:53
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  1. Mike October 16, 15:04

    I always wondered how to make “aspirin” from the willow tree and now I know . Thank you !!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Sìtheag October 16, 15:35

    This was a very helpful article. I’m always looking for “direct remedies”, the remedies that require the least amount of processing to use in the wild. Pulled leaf or chewed poultices, simple teas like the one above, and raw fruit/flower/nut remedies are great on the go and preserve the life of the giver plant as well. Wa do.

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  3. clergylady October 16, 16:10

    I’ve used this remedy many times but its good to see it shown so clear and easy. I hope it inspires readers to try it and use it.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Spike October 16, 19:00

    Maybe you don’t get the stomach aches because you aren’t getting much medicine. If I have aches bad enough to need medicine I’m going to use measureable doses…aka tablets. Hoard the stuff as Aspirin will last many years in the bottle.

    Reply to this comment
    • bert October 16, 22:32

      Aspirin should be used within a year of purchase. The reason is that after a year the fresh aspirin chemical will degrade to a chemical that will still work to ease pain but will put the hurt on your stomach. It degrades faster in a hot humid bathroom where its usually kept. Might be good to keep in the fridge. Thats it. And Thanks for the article on willow. Good to know.

      Reply to this comment
    • City Chick October 18, 00:41

      They don’t call it “The Wonder Drug” for nothing!

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      • left coast chuck October 18, 22:52

        If you open the bottle and the tablets are crumbling or if, when you open the bottle, get get a very strong acid smell, then I would suggest that the aspirin is past its use by date. If you read the article carefully, you saw that the basic chemical in aspirin is acetylsalcylic acid. Notice the second word in the formulation. While I haven’t run any scientific, triple blind control studies on the topic, it is my belief that the more aspirin breaks down, the more it creates stomach problems because the acid become a free agent from the buffering substances that help to control the stomach problems sometimes associated with aspirin.

        Again, how stored makes a world of difference. I would store my meds in the coolest place in the house in a styrofoam cooler. Which by the way are not verboten in several cities int he PDRK. A local city is in the process of passing an ordinance against styrofoam ice chests, cups, plastic straws, packing peanuts, meat trays in the supermarket, a whole long list of verboten styrofoam articles.

        Remember when the greenies were wringing their hands, beating their breasts and rending their clothing about all the trees being chopped down for paper bags, paper straws etc etc etc?

        Random thought: I wonder if we had continued to cut down those trees if we wouldn’t be having the forest fires we are having where those very same trees that we “saved” are being burned up?

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        • red October 20, 01:49

          LCC: Yes! You know your stuff. Any chemical med is suspect.
          had the snowflake creepy people not stopped logging and controlled burns, there would be no or few fires. A deputy told me Kali flakes stopped firefighters from using a chemical agent that smothers fires. It’s non-toxic and dissipates fast, but gee, Bambi or Stinky might sneeze. Half the Catalina Mtns looked interesting with splashes of orange, but no fires. niio

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  5. City Chick October 18, 00:38

    Have only a few as I don’t normally like homemade medicinal concoctions, but this one I’m going to put in the file. Several years ago the US Army did a study on the shelf life of drugs and the results were widely published so it caught my attention. Turns out, many are safe well beyond the expiration date, especially those not in liquid form. Aspirin is one drug that keeps a long time if stored in proper conditions for temperature and humidity. Deteriorating tablets or an off smell will let you know if it happens to go bad.

    Reply to this comment
  6. red October 18, 00:54

    I like this. Chemicals are slowly biting the dust, but herbals are still solid. For headache, especially sinuses, what we do is a hair pull works. Gently pull the hair or deep massage of the scalp. That’s why you see people rubbing their temples. For something more, very often an infection, washing the sinuses with a saline solution works. Use distilled water! If the time comes you can’t, then one (ONE) drop of iodine in a 4 ounce tube works. Let it sit at least ten minutes before using.
    A lot of times headaches are symptoms of things like a bad tooth.

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  7. Jamie October 18, 01:39

    Using Willow leaves to combat aches and pain is interesting./ I have been chewing the twigs of the spirea plant for the same reason for many years. The Americans called it the “headache plant.”

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  8. Oracle October 18, 22:20

    No willow growing near here, so I’ve been hoarding acetaminophen caplets which is the same as Tylenol. I have high blood pressure if not treated properly, so I cannot take (nor should you if you suffer from BP issues) ibuprofen, ketoprofen, or naproxen sodium. All of which have been proven to raise blood pressure. I don’t use aspirin due to it causing gastrointestinal ulcerations and bleeding in recent tests. Aspirin also should never be given to children due to the possibility of it causing Reyes Syndrome, resulting in brain and liver damage and death. I buy the acetaminophen in the Walmart Equate brand, in 500 mg caplets, 500 per bottle. I pick up a bottle every few months or so and store them in my medical supply cases. Interesting enough, the 500 caplet bottles at $6.98 is only a little more in cost than a small bottle. In my research Mayo Clinic has assured me that caplets of acetaminophen will remain viable for many years, even up to 15 years if stored at 70 degrees or lower, with no fluctuating temperatures, in darkness, and with no moisture. He said they will not spoil after many years but will merely lose some of their potency. As you all know, the “best if used by” or expiration date on products in most cases is not factual. Liquid antibiotics excluded. Blessings to you all, Oracle (Barry L Brumfield)

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  9. Oracle October 20, 15:24

    Red, yes, willows are supposed to be native to Missouri, but I’ve not seen any around here. This article has reminded me of the many other uses for Willow based salicylic acid. I’ll start looking for some. They’re probably right under my nose and because they are so common I just overlooked them. I’ve discovered that many of the useful plants and trees my grandmother taught me about grow here. Thanks for the link.

    Reply to this comment
    • red October 21, 23:02

      Oracle: Welcome. Mind yourself after the election. The flakes are stocking arms. Anyone who reads this, prep like your life depends on it. It does. I live in Indian Country. Folks here are well-armed and most stocked up otherwise. niio

      Reply to this comment
      • Oracle October 23, 16:05

        Red, thanks for the kind, and very wise advice. I’m expecting things to go South before and after the election, regardless of who wins. We have five experienced shooters in our family, and we own a small, but well stocked armory. We are scoped and zeroed in out to 300 yards, which is about the distance from our house to the surrounding woods on three sides. The front of the house opens up to our top of the hill view across the valley for about 2 miles. We will shortly top off our year of supplies here, and beginning Nov. 2nd we’ll stay home for a few days to see how things go. Any trips to town will be as usual, armed and alert. We are fairly safe from the liberal/socialist insanity that is pervading liberal strongholds around the country. Our neighbors are hard worker farmers and ranchers, all are patriots, and all have taken a vow to each other to defend our families, properties, and our way of life. May He in His great strength keep you safe. Brum

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        • red October 23, 21:44

          Oracle: the stepson is going to move in for a while. He made weapons expert, and should have. I introed him to the Armory folks when he was ten and he got permission to hang out after school and weekends. !
          My old drill sergeant said he might come up, if it gets hot down his way. If he does, and I hope so, we’ll all be grateful for the nurses at the clinic, they’re all ex-military and experts are removing sergeants’ boots from kids 🙂
          Walk in His beauty, and keep your aim steady. niio

          Reply to this comment
  10. red October 25, 20:22

    Oracle: He wants to live in the city, mostly, if any are left (not likely). If it comes to SHTF, he’ll be here or dead. He always did love a war. He thinks life here is too bucolic 🙂 He had enough of country life and wants bright lights and anonymity of a city. But, he usually listens to me. I liked the cities, too, for a short while. I got sick of always having the law breathing down my next no matter what. He will, eventually, if he survives. He needs a wife and a bunch of kids to make his hair turn white at an early age, like mine did me. No, there is no truth to the even rumor I did that to my parents. It was all my older siblings, see 🙂 niio

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  11. Bonnie Gardener November 21, 08:40

    Small detail from an herbalist:
    a tea is made from leaves and the water is about 190 degrees,well below 212/boiling, which burns off the beneficial essential oils.
    Twigs and woody materials are boiled and are considered a decoction, not a tea (or, more correctly, an infusion). This is done to extract the essential oils out of the bark. Cover the small pot wgile simmering to keep the essential oils. If you can smell it, you are losing oils to the air.

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  12. OneBirdieMa January 17, 16:23

    Can’t get the e-mmail to work so I shall as this question in the Comments line. Off the 300+ varieties of willow, which one or ones are best for getting “aspirin” from the bark. I have found instructions (including yours which are BTW very good) for making tea and dried product, but no one ventures an opinion as to which tree/shrub variety might be preferred. . . .

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