It's wonderful to use the plants around you, not only for food but also for medicine. Did you know willow bark is a pain reliever and an anti-inflammatory? And so, willow bark is invaluable to your home apothecary! Willow contains salicin, which is a glucoside. Our bodies convert salicin to salictylic acid, which is the active ingredient in aspirin.
There are 4 ways you can use willow. If you are ever in a pinch, one way would be to simply chew on some fresh willow bark. Now, it is somewhat bitter, but you can handle it. Besides chewing on the bark you might prepare a decoction, a tincture, or an infused oil. Below are 3 recipes you might like to add to your apothecary. You may use dried or fresh willow.
Harvesting The Willow - The best time to harvest the willow bark is in the spring time, so now is perfect! You can harvest and then dry to store for an entire year. You'll then have spring willow to use all year long. Remove twigs just when the buds are forming. Remove the buds and using a potato peeler, shave the bark off of the twigs and into smaller pieces. Place these pieces in a colander or mesh bag and allow to dry completely. Once completely dried place the bark pieces into a covered glass mason jar, in a cupboard. The bark will be usable for one year.
Caution - Always do your research in regards to herbal medicines. Always consult with your health care provider in case there may be any contradictions with current medicines you may be taking.
More to come...
David and Valerie Zimmer, owners of Greater Michigan Timber Management, a forest, timber and woodlot management company in northern lower Michigan.
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