Willow bark extract: the contribution of polyphenols to the overall effect

Wien Med Wochenschr. 2007;157(13-14):348-51. doi: 10.1007/s10354-007-0437-3.


The efficacy of willow bark extract in the treatment of painful mobility disorders, such as back pain and arthritis, has been attributed to the content of salicin and its derivatives as pro-drugs of salicylates. However, based on clinical experience and the evidence of experimental pharmacological studies, the fraction of total salicin cannot satisfactorily explain the clinical efficacy of willow bark. In addition, salicins and their metabolites lack the acetylating potential of ASA and must therefore possess a different mechanism of action. A detailed pharmacological screening of the aqueous willow bark extract STW 33-I addressed the question of the identification of fractions contributing to the overall effect. All in vivo and in vitro models studied pointed to relevant contributions of the fraction of polyphenols and flavonoids. The single compounds or their combinations responsible for the effect remain to be elucidated.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthritis / drug therapy*
  • Back Pain / drug therapy*
  • Benzyl Alcohols / pharmacology
  • Benzyl Alcohols / therapeutic use
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drug Compounding
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology
  • Flavonoids / therapeutic use*
  • Glucosides
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Phenols / pharmacology
  • Phenols / therapeutic use*
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Bark / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Polyphenols
  • Rats
  • Salix* / chemistry
  • Time Factors


  • Benzyl Alcohols
  • Flavonoids
  • Glucosides
  • Phenols
  • Plant Extracts
  • Polyphenols
  • salicin