Soothe Your Excesses With A Willow Tincture
It’s at these times that many of us may reach for the bathroom cupboard for the aspirin, to help ease us through the morning after. This synthetically produced pill is not without its side effects however and can cause indigestion, stomach aches and in some cases bleeding in the stomach. There is however a gentler and more natural way to absorb these pain reliving qualities, reducing the discomfort of the side effects by using willow bark.
All willow has an anti-rheumatic, anti-neuralgic, astringent and the ability to alleviate fever. The main active ingredients in willow are glycoside salicin, tannin, and resin.
It is the salicin that we are interested in here as it is the pharmacological ancestor of a family of drugs called salicylates of which aspirin is derived from, the pain-relieving compound and one you will be familiar with.
Simply chewing on 2cm square of the willow bark is equivalent to one adult dose of aspirin, out on the trail can be a blessing to relieve aches and pains. Having something more convenient back at camp that is ready to use when you need it and feeling a little worse for wear can be a welcome relief.
For our example we will be using Goat Willow (Salix caprea). The buds are very evident at this time of year and they can be seen spiralling round its shoots, this is an ID feature of all willows, but this feature is not isolated to them so be 100% with your identification.
Harvest the willow bark by pruning the smooth side branches of any willow, the best parts to use are young branches a couple of years old and no older than five to six years, only take enough willow for your needs.
Remove the very outer surface with the back of a knife, at a 90 degree angle to the willow. This does two things, firstly it helps remove the bacterial layer on the bark and secondly it helps the absorption of the salicin into your tincture, once this is done you can peel off the inner bark into thin strips to go into your jam jar, don’t pack them too tightly. Now dilute the vodka to 25% with water and add to just cover the willow.
Leave in a cool dark place for four weeks, shaking every few days. You will quite quickly notice the colour start to change a golden brown, which will slowly get stronger
After four weeks you can then strain off the liquid into a sterilised bottle. The Tincture will last up to a year stored in a cool dark place. Add the expiry date along with the details on the bottle.
The adult dosage is to take 2-5ml three times a day in a little water. Add this information to your label as well. There have it, your own natural headache, aches and pains remedy, without the side effects of Aspirin.
If you’re inspired by this blog and would like to know more about Mother Nature’s medicine cabinet then why not join us on our Hedgerow Medicine And Medicinal Wild Plants Course which takes place on 13th July 2019 in Oxfordshire.