While many cultures throughout the ages have attributed supernatural powers to willow trees, particularly when it comes to communicating with the spirit world, humans throughout the ancient world (including Native Americans as well as advanced civilizations in Egypt, Assyria, Summer and Greece) have relied on its medicinal powers found in its bark and leaves to treat fevers, headaches, and aching muscles and joints, etc. In fact, the basis for today’s spirit traces its origins to the use of willow bark.
Aspirin as we know it was has been around since 1897, when chemist Felix Hoffmann created a synthetically altered version of the salicin acid found in the plants The “new “drug, acetylsalicylic acid, was named Aspirin by Hoffmann’s employer Bayer AG, and soon led to the development of meds that most of us take every day, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
Salicylic acid is also commonly used in skin care to treat psoriasis, seborrhea, acne and warts, as well dermatitis, calluses, ichthyosis, dandruff, and ringworm. In addition, salicylic acid combined with bismuth is the active ingredient in Pepto-Bismol, as well as the primary ingredient in Kaopectate.
Now modern science is taking the curative powers of the willow tree a step further after joint research by an International Cooperative Biodiversity Group comprised of scientists from University of Illinois at Chicago, Hong Kong Baptist University, and the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology found that a chemical found in the willow leaves of the Justicia plant contains an anti-HIV compound more potent than AZT, which has been the mainstay in the Fight Against HIV since 1987.
According to their report published in the Journal of Natural Compounds, Lijun Rong, professor of microbiology and immunology in the UIC College of Medicine; patentiflorinA was effective in combating the HIV virus by “altering when it first enters the T cells of the immune system, as well as when it is already present in them.”
Patentiflorin A, had been harvested from the roots and stems and roots of plants found Cuc Phuong National Park in Hanoi, Vietnam more than a decade by Doel Soejarto, professor emeritus of medicinal chemistry and pharmacognosy in the UIC College of Pharmacy, who has been analyzing the extract along with thousands of others with the goal of identifying new drugs against HIV, cancer. tuberculosis, and malaria.
Note: Soejarto is head of the above project which includes Rong and Harry Fong, associate director of the World Health Organization Program for Traditional Medicine. Their work is currently being funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.