Last update July 17, 2022

Willow Bark

Low Risk

Possibly safe. Probably compatible. Mild risk possible. Follow up recommended. Read the Comment.

The bark of the willow tree contains salicylic derivatives (salicin) in varying amounts depending on the type of willow tree (1% in Salix alba to 12% in Salix purpurea) and the season of the year in which was collected. There is a good level of evidence regarding its antitermic, anti-inflammatory and anti allergic properties. (Oketch 2019, EMA 2017, Desborough 2017, Cameron 2009, Sagnier 2006, Chrubasik 2002, Blumenthal 1998)

At the date of this last update we did not find published data on its excretion in breast milk.

Due to the high content of salicylic acid, which is excreted in breast milk, there is a theoretical risk (unpublished) of causing Reye syndrome in the infant. (Oketch 2019) 

Gastrointestinal hemorrhage has been described in a 4-year-old boy who took a syrup containing meadowsweet and willow bark, both rich in salicylates. (Moro 2011).

Until there is more available and published data regarding this plant and breastfeeding it could be wise to avoid or have low and occasional consumption during lactation, specially during the neonatal period or in the case of prematurity.

Precautions when taking plant preparations (Anderson 2017, Powers 2015, Posadzki 2013, Efferth 2011, Kopec 1999, Hsu 1995):

  • Make sure they are from a reliable source: poisonings have occurred due to confusion of one plant with another with toxic properties (Hsu 1995), poisonings due to containing heavy metals extracted from the soil, and food poisoning due to contamination with bacteria or fungi. (Anderson 2017)
  • Do not take in excess; follow the recommendations of expert phytotherapy professionals. “Natural” products are not good in any quantity: plants contain active substances from which much of our traditional pharmacopoeia has been obtained and can cause poisoning or act as endocrine disruptors if consumed in quantity or for an exaggerated time because they contain phytoestrogens. (Powers 2015, Zava 1998)

See below the information of this related product:

  • Aspirin (Possibly safe. Probably compatible. Mild risk possible. Follow up recommended. Read the Comment.)


  • Ibuprofen ( Safe. Compatible. Minimal risk for breastfeeding and infant.)
  • Paracetamol ( Safe. Compatible. Minimal risk for breastfeeding and infant.)

Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM team of health professionals, and are based on updated scientific publications. It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it. The pharmaceutical industry contraindicates breastfeeding, mistakenly and without scientific reasons, in most of the drug data sheets.

Jose Maria Paricio, Founder & President of APILAM/e-Lactancia

Your contribution is essential for this service to continue to exist. We need the generosity of people like you who believe in the benefits of breastfeeding.

Thank you for helping to protect and promote breastfeeding.

José María Paricio, founder of e-lactancia.


Willow Bark belongs to this group or family:


Main tradenames from several countries containing Willow Bark in its composition:


  1. Oketch-Rabah HA, Marles RJ, Jordan SA, Low Dog T. United States Pharmacopeia Safety Review of Willow Bark. Planta Med. 2019 Nov;85(16):1192-1202. Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  2. Anderson PO. Herbal Use During Breastfeeding. Breastfeed Med. 2017 Abstract
  3. Desborough MJR, Keeling DM. The aspirin story - from willow to wonder drug. Br J Haematol. 2017 Abstract
  4. Powers CN, Setzer WN. A molecular docking study of phytochemical estrogen mimics from dietary herbal supplements. In Silico Pharmacol. 2015 Mar 22;3:4. Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  5. Posadzki P, Watson L, Ernst E. Contamination and adulteration of herbal medicinal products (HMPs): an overview of systematic reviews. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2013 Abstract
  6. Moro PA, Flacco V, Cassetti F, Clementi V, Colombo ML, Chiesa GM, Menniti-Ippolito F, Raschetti R, Santuccio C. Hypovolemic shock due to severe gastrointestinal bleeding in a child taking an herbal syrup. Ann Ist Super Sanita. 2011 Abstract
  7. Efferth T, Kaina B. Toxicities by herbal medicines with emphasis to traditional Chinese medicine. Curr Drug Metab. 2011 Abstract
  8. Cameron M, Gagnier JJ, Little CV, Parsons TJ, Blümle A, Chrubasik S. Evidence of effectiveness of herbal medicinal products in the treatment of arthritis. Part I: Osteoarthritis. Phytother Res. 2009 Abstract
  9. Gagnier JJ, van Tulder M, Berman B, Bombardier C. Herbal medicine for low back pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006 Abstract
  10. Chrubasik S, Pollak S. [Pain management with herbal antirheumatic drugs]. Wien Med Wochenschr. 2002 Abstract
  11. Kopec K. Herbal medications and breastfeeding. J Hum Lact. 1999 Jun;15(2):157-61. Review. No abstract available. Abstract
  12. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, Gruenwald J, Hall T, Riggins CW, Rister RS, editors. The American Botanical Council. The Complete German Commission E Monographs. Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. 1st ed. Integrative Medicine Com; Boston, MA, USA: 1998
  13. Zava DT, Dollbaum CM, Blen M. Estrogen and progestin bioactivity of foods, herbs, and spices. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1998 Abstract
  14. Hsu CK, Leo P, Shastry D, Meggs W, Weisman R, Hoffman RS. Anticholinergic poisoning associated with herbal tea. Arch Intern Med. 1995 Abstract

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