Ingredient Profile – Willow Bark Extract

Posted By: Roccoco Botanicals Published: 09/07/2017 Comments: 0

The White Willow (Salix alba) tree is a large tree that is native to North America, Asia and Central and Southern Europe. It is typically found near streams and rivers, where it can root near a constant water source. The tree is tall and slender and flowers each spring first with tiny yellow flowers, which are followed by long thin green leaves. There over 300 species of willow trees growing globally, yet only a few can be used medicinally. The White Willow belongs to the Salicaceae family. Other species that possess medicinal properties are the purple willow (S.Purpurea), violet willow (S.daphnoides), and crack willow (S. fragilis).

White Willow is an ancient remedy that has been used to treat pain by Chinese physicians since 500 B.C. It has also been used in ancient Egyptian and Greek medicine. Hippocrates recommended chewing on the leaf to alleviate pain. Evidence of the use of White Willow as a medicinal herb also exists in Europe and the Americas. In the mid-1700’s White Willow was used in England as a malaria remedy. In the Americas, the Cherokee, Blackfoot, and Iroquois Indians created a tea from the bark of the White Willow to relieve headaches, fever, and general aches and pains. Then in 1828, German and French chemists were able to isolate the principal active component, salicin, a glucoside of Salicylic acid, from the bark of the White Willow. Upon ingestion into the human body, salicin is hydrolyzed to release salicylic acid in the stomach. Toward the end of the nineteenth century salicylic acid was converted into the synthetic compound, acetylsalicylic acid, the active ingredient used to make aspirin.

Salix Alba

Willow Bark Extract is known as Salix Alba Extract and is a natural alternative to Salicylic Acid, which is commonly used in cosmetics.  Studies have shown that Willow Bark Extract when compared to Salicylic acid provided better cellular renewal.

Willow Bark Extract has been shown to increase the skin density with topical application within 24 hours and by 4 weeks skin density was increased by 44.2%.  It has also been shown to have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities.  Willow Bark has also been shown to decrease the production of IL-6.  The production of NF-kb is also reduce upon topical application of Willow Bark.  NF-kb and IL-6 are both involved in the inflammatory pathways of acne vulgaris.  Willow Bark has strong antimcrobial activity, showing significant activity against all gram-positive bacteria.
Whilst it is possible to grow herbs yourself and do extracts the content of the constituents can vary quite dramatically.  Products containing willow should preferably be standardised on their salicin content, in view of the considerable variation in salicylate concentrations between different Salix species. This is to ensure consistent amount of active ingredients with each batch.  Cosmetic grade Willow Bark is therefore standardized to 53-65%.  Normal usage is 1-10%.

Willow is rich in phenolic constituents, such as flavonoids, tannins and salicylates. Pharmacological actions normally associated with salicylates are also applicable to willow.

Chemical Constituents include the following:

Glycosides (phenolic):
Various phenolic glycosides including salicin, salicortin, tremulacin, salireposide, picein and triandrin.(1) Acetylated salicin, salicortin, salireposide, and esters of salicylic acid and salicyl alcohol may also occur.

Salicylates (calculated as salicin)
Vary between species, e.g. 0.5% in S. alba, 1–10% in S. fragilis, 3–9% in S. purpurea.

Flavanones, eriodictoyl-7-glucoside; naringenin-5- glucoside; chalcone; isosalipurposide; catechi


Willow Bark is used in our Purifying Treatment Essence.  It is GMO Free and is not ethoxylated or Irradated.  It has all the benefits of Salicylic Acid without any of the associated irritation of Salicylic Acid.

Tags: Acne, IL-6, NF-kb, phenolic, salicin, salicylate, salix alba, skin density, skin renewal, white willow, willow bark


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