Native to North America, northern Asia, and much of Africa, the willow is a low-growing deciduous tree bearing long, green, tapering leaves and catkins in spring. Bark is stripped from young trees in the spring for use in herbal medicines. Native American healers used willow bark long before Columbus or the Vikings landed. The conversion of willow bark to aspirin began in 1828 when German chemist Felix Hoffmann isolated the active ingredient and named it salicin. In 1899, the Bayer company began manufacturing and selling a modified form of the willow bark chemical acetylsalicylic acid, or aspirin. This first of the modern miracle medicines has been a mainstay in the treatment of joint pain ever since.
Most commonly used in tea preparations, and equally convenient as a capsule or extract. Also used to make lozenges, and salicin tablets.
White willow bark is approved by the German Commission E in supporting joint health, as well as for alleviating occasional headaches in healthy individuals. It is traditionally used as an all-purpose pain reliever and anti-inflammatory.
Medical Herbalism by David Hoffmann pg. 579