White Willow Extract

Stripped Willow Bark

White Willow Extract is prepared from the bark of the White Willow tree (Salix alba). The bark from many species of Willow (Salix spp.) is a natural source Aspirin, a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID). Preparations of willow bark have been used in the traditional medicine of indigenous people for thousands of years. Preparations of pain-killing willow bark extracts were also recorded in medical texts from the Greek and Roman empires. White Willow Extract is widely available as a commercial product and is commonly incorporated into modern Naturopathic ace treatments.

White Willow Extract Tincture
White Willow Extract Tincture

White Willow Extracts are typically prepared as tinctures, topical creams or tablets. Some people have reported that topical formulations that contain White Willow Extract helped reduce the severity of their acne outbreaks and/or reduced the redness and swelling associated with inflammatory acne. Although many individuals and Naturopathic practitioners believe that White Willow Extract is an effective acne treatment, there has not been significant clinical research into the efficacy of White Willow Extract as a treatment for acne. More research and patient reports are needed to evaluate how useful White Willow Extract is likely to be for he average person with acne.

Trunk and Bark of the White Willow (Salix alba)
Trunk and Bark of the White Willow (Salix alba)

White Willow Extract (and willow bark, in general) contains significant concentrations of a chemical compound called Salicin. Salicin is closely related to Salicylic Acid and Aspirin, each of which can can relieve pain or fevers. Those anti-inflammatory properties may help decrease rednesss, swelling and pain associated with acne lesions. Salicylic Acid is also a Keratolytic agent that can help reduce the formation of hyper-keratinized plugs (clogged pores). Salicylic Acid is the active ingredient in many Over-The-Counter acne products, such as anti-acne moisturizers and acne cleanser pads. Based on the existing scientific evidence about Salicylic Acid as an acne treatment, it is reasonable to assume that White Willow Extract may be a useful addition to many topical Naturopathic acne treatmens.

White Willow Images

References

White Willow @ Wikipedia
Which plant for which skin disease? Part 1: Atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, acne, condyloma and herpes simplex. Reuter, et al. 2010.
Herbal anti-inflammatory agents for skin disease. Graf. 2000.
Preparation of new formulations of anti-acne creams and their efficacy. Abbasi, et al. 2010.
Evidence for the efficacy and safety of topical herbal drugs in dermatology: Part I: Anti-inflammatory agents. Hormann, et al. 1994.
Medicinal potential of willow: A chemical perspective of aspirin discovery. Mahdi. 2010.
Salicylic Acid, a Multifaceted Hormone to Combat Disease. Vlot, et al. 2009.
One hundred years of aspirin. Jack. 1997.
Transdermal Penetration of Topical Drugs Used in the Treatment of Acne. Krautheim, et al. 2010.