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Veterinarian Reviewed on June 14, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
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Salicin is a compound responsible for the synthesis of acetyl salicylic acid. This glycoside has a carbohydrate molecule and a non-sugar component as well. Salicin is isolated from plants and is considered to have a very high therapeutic and medicinal value. Salicylic acid which is derived from the bark of the white willow tree is the most widely used source of Salicin.

History and Origin

Salicin is used similarly to salicylic acid; it is effective as a tonic for overall physical health and virility. The British Pahrmacopoeia has determined Salicin’s safety dosage up to 20 grains. The use of Salicin and salicylic acid in the cosmetic industry and skin care has brought this glycoside into new heights and has made it a household name in skin care treatment and preparations.

Ancient Uses

The white willow tree has been used in ancient times as an herbal remedy for body aches, pains and many types of inflammation. The bark and the leaves of this tree are the most commonly used part for teas, poultices and for medicinal preparations.

Modern Uses

Salicin and salicylic acid have been widely used for their analgesic properties in the treatment of pain, fever and inflammation. It is also useful in the treatment of discomforts brought about by symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis such as joint pain, redness and swelling. Salicin is also used as a health tonic and for the treatment of common gastric disorders like stomach upset, pain, gas formation and bloating.

Many studies have linked the use of Salicin and salicylic acid for their antimicrobial properties. This is the reason why many skin cleansing and skin treatment preparations are salicylic acid based. The market for salicylic acid based skin preparations has grown especially during the later part of this last century.

In the treatment of acne and acne scar formation, Salicin and salicylic acid helps in sloughing off dead skin cells more easily in order to expose a healthy new layer of sskin.

The use of Salicin for the cure of the common cold and influenza is widely accepted since it does not have dangerous side effects with regular use as opposed to Aspirin.

Salicin is usually taken in dried form (1-3 grams) and as an herbal tea preparation from the dried bark of the white willow tree. It is also available in extract form.

Side Effects

There have been no noted side effects in the use of Salicin orally but it is contraindicated in pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. It is important to stay within therapeutic dose of Salicin when using it to control fever and pain especially in very young children. If you want to use Salicin for its therapeutic benefits, first consult with your doctor regarding the appropriate dose and adverse effects with your current medications.

Using Salicin and salicylic acid as a skin treatment poses minimal side effects like increased incidence of acne and pimples, redness and minimal swelling on the treated site. This is however just a usual effect of salicylic acid since it stimulates the production of skin cells and the excretion of dirt and oil on the skin. Salicin has no reported lethal dose values.

Read also: Centipeda Minima

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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