Slippery Elm, Wild Cherry, Poplar, Willow
Also he (Solomon) spoke of trees, from the cedar tree of Lebanon even to the hyssop that springs out of the wall………
I Kings 4:33
As if September were not glorious enough, God turns it up another notch in October and the forests blaze with glory. Truly the beauty of His holiness is evident on every side. There's a busyness and a scurrying on the land as all the living creatures gather in stores and secure their winter nests, or prepare for their amazing journeys southward.
Most of the canning is done now and I can sit back and admire the rows of full canning jars on the shelves. The freezer is stuffed with all kinds of goodies and my cupboard filled with dried herbs for teas and medicine through the winter.
It's always exciting to me that just when the year is winding down and the fields are mostly brown, there is a surge of tender new greens among the fallen leaves. I can harvest fresh Dandelion greens, Garlic Mustard, Violets, Watercress and more, just like I did back in April and May! It's like one final flush of super-nutrition before the cold sinks into our bones, and the land becomes hardened and lifeless.
It's impossible not to be drawn to the trees this time of year, so I like to harvest some medicinal barks before the branches are completely bare and all that good medicine is stored down in the roots. The sap is flowing downwards as the leaves die off, potentizing the inner barks and making them prime for medicinal use. A few clinging leaves make it easy to identify the trees as well.
Cold and flu season are just around the corner so I like to take some time this month to make cough syrups and winter tea mixtures.
MEDICINAL TREE BARKS
Few people can truly appreciate the incredible giveaway that trees provide to mankind. Just think for a moment about all the things in our lives that are made out of wood........homes, furniture, musical instruments, boxes, and much, much more. Trees give us many kinds of wonderful foods including most of our fruits and nuts, maple syrup, and many of our precious spices like cinnamon, vanilla, and nutmeg. Many fragrant incenses are made from the saps of trees... frankincense, myrrh, and copal. Trees give us shade to protect us from the heat of summer; firewood heats our homes in the winter. Their beauty heralds each passing season and nourishes our souls. Trees provide homes for all kinds of wildlife, and even the rotting logs give nourishment to the soil that the great cycle of life might continue. And besides all this, locked inside the barks of many different trees are healing medicines, freely given to anyone who learns to recognize, harvest, and prepare them.
"Bark" is actually a misleading word here as the part of the tree or shrub used medicinally is actually the inner bark, known as the cambium layer, which lies in between the true bark and the wood. The wood and the true, outer bark are dead cells, thus containing little that is medicinally useful. All the nourishment and life force of the tree moves through the cambium layer, making it a rich source of sugars, resins, astringents, and other complex phytochemistry. The amazing thing is that many of the chemicals that exist in the tree are not needed by the tree for its own survival! (This is true of plants as well.)
Some of the medicinal barks that grow in my region include Wild Cherry bark, Slippery Elm bark, White Pine bark, Aspen or Poplar bark, Crampbark aka Highbush Cranberry, Barberry bark, Willow bark and White Oak bark. There are lots of others if you get into more advanced herbalism, but these basic few supply most of the every day needs.
SOUTHERN WATCHMAN [ATHENS, GA],
September 10, 1862, p. 1, c. 6
Some of the medical purveyors of the Confederate States are offering the following prices for the following domestic medicines:
Poplar bark, 10c per lb.; wild cherry bark, 30c; dogwood bark, 30c;
sassafras bark, 25c; persimmon bark, 25c; willow bark, 20c;
slippery elm bark, 30c; red oak bark, 10c; snake root, 50c;
blackberry root 30c; queen's delight root, 25c; blood root 30c;
bone-set, 10c; pleurisy root, 25c.
Where bark is wanted, the inner bark of the trunk and branches, or the bark of the root, is required. The outer coarse bark from the trunk should be removed before the inner bark is pealed off.
When to Harvest Barks:
Spring and fall are considered optimal times to harvest tree barks because at these times there is a great surge of energy and nutrients moving through the cambium layer, making medicinal barks especially potent. I could harvest in the spring from the time the sap starts running until the buds begin to swell for maximum medicinal quality; but generally I harvest my barks in the fall for several reasons:
(1) It is easier to identify trees in the fall when they still have a few leaves clinging to them or fresh fall on the ground.
(2) If I’m harvesting for storage rather than immediate use, the barks will be much fresher for winter remedies if fall-harvested.
(3) I don’t tend to use the barks or preparations I make from them (mostly cough syrups) in the summer when there are so many fresh herbs and foods available.
(4) If I find myself needing a particular bark in the summer, I can harvest it fresh. Not so in the winter, when most of the sap and it's chemical constituents are stored in the roots.
How to Harvest Barks
The idea of harvesting tree barks tends to conjure up the image of removing huge sections of bark from the trunk of a tree, thereby leaving gaping scars or even killing the tree. Harvesting bark from the main trunk of the tree creates ugly wounds that interrupt the sap flow, causing actual 'bleeding' and scarring. These injuries can attract pests and harbor diseases. Completely girdling a tree will kill it.
There are tales of commercial bark harvesting around the globe for corporate pharmaceutical companies that cause major ecological impact on the land. It's a completely different game to be harvesting for profit than for personal use. Here's an article on forest exploitation for the drug industry, profiling the overharvest of the bark of Prunus africana (a Cherry relative). Scroll down to the bottom of the webpage and check out the photo of the confiscated bark.
The good news is that barks can be harvested with very little damage to a tree, and can even improve the health of a tree, much as pruning does. The most ecological way to harvest bark is to prune smaller branches from the tree using pruning shears or a small pruning saw. It doesn't take many branches to supply my house with all I need for a year. If larger quantities are needed I might consider taking a whole sapling if the tree grows in abundance and is in a crowded stand already.
Processing and Storing Barks:
Don't wait too long to remove the bark, it's easiest within 3 days of cutting them, otherwise they begin to dry, making it far more difficult. Spring barks are much 'juicier' and peel a bit easier, but I don't find fall barks to be much trouble.
To remove the bark from the branches, I use my hand pruners to snip off any side branches and spurs. Then I take a sharp paring knife or pocketknife and peel the bark in thin strips or shavings, much like peeling a carrot. Be sure to cut deeply enough to get the inner bark, which will be slightly wet and also is usually green in color. The different layers are easy to distinguish when you are peeling the branches.
Next I take a pair of sturdy scissors and snip the strips of bark into small pieces. At this point, they will be ready to dry, or to use fresh in making syrups or tinctures.
Another technique I've discovered to peel the barks is to lay the branch flat on your cutting surface, and then take the knife and hold it perpendicularly (right angle) to the branch. Then with a strong scraping motion, scrape back and forth vigorously. This shreds the bark while it peels it and results in very nice finished product, no further need for cutting. The shredding breaks up the fibers nicely, which is very helpful when you make medicinal preparations later.
Herbal barks that you buy commercially have the grey, outer bark removed, and they are usually a nice clean white color. I have not found a technique for removing the thin outer bark at home and have no idea how they do this on a commercial scale. I just leave the outer bark on, it's quite harmless, and doesn't seem to mar the appearance of the herbs at all in my opinion. It's much easier and quicker to process barks if you don't have to fuss with getting the outer layer off.
If I am going to store the barks for use at a later time, I dry them thoroughly on screens or in a dehydrator, and put them in plastic freezer bags or glass jars. I am always careful to label my herbs with the name of the plant and the date and place harvested. It can be very tricky to identify herbs after they are dried.
Historical Botanicals: Collecting Barks
Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra)
MEMPHIS DAILY APPEAL [GRANADA, MS],
August 26, 1862, p. 1, c. 4
--Fill your pockets with dried slippery elm bark
when about to take up the line of march for the battle-field
or for a new encampment.
You will find that chewing it freely will greatly allay both thirst and hunger.
The slippery elm grows in abundance in Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.
I see that our surgeons use it as a substitute for gum arabic.
It is to be hoped our patriotic
and philanthropic friends in the country will procure an abundant supply for our army--Savannah News.
Slippery Elm used to be a common, old-timey remedy for all kinds of things, from ulcers to sore throats to nourishing food for invalids and infants. It’s not as popular anymore as today all these new-fangled remedies are so much easier to harvest from the drugstores. But it’s still alive and well and probably growing in nature’s drugstore not far from you.
If I’m still not sure if I’m looking at a Slippery Elm or not, I take out my pocketknife and peel a little bark off one of the branches, separate the inner bark and chew it up. If it soon turns to a slimy, jelly-like texture in my mouth, then I know I got the right tree.
There are three kinds of Elms growing here in Wisconsin: Rock Elm, American Elm, and Slippery Elm. The rural locals here call Slippery Elm “Red Elm” and are quite familiar with it as a topnotch firewood—aside from its being ridiculously difficult to split by hand.
It is quite tricky to distinguish Slippery Elm from its two relatives. Once you are familiar with the general features of an Elm tree, then you can key in on the distinctive features of Slippery Elm. Here’s what I look for:
*Leaves are larger than other Elms
*Leaves are rough like sandpaper on top and hairy-fuzzy underneath
*Buds are black and kind of wooly or fuzzy, not smooth, brown and shiny like the other Elms.
*The ends of the branches (twigs) are rough and fuzzy.
The best time to harvest Slippery Elm is in the spring when the inner bark peels away easily from the outer. But I harvest in the fall as well. The best bark comes from the trunks of saplings or large branches on mature trees. Unfortunately Slippery Elm has recently been put on the "At Risk" list created by United Plant Savers so due respect and discretion are advised when harvesting. I use the smaller branches sometimes but they just don’t yield the quality inner layer as the larger, though I’m sure the medicinal value is the same.
When you buy Slippery Elm herb at the co-op or from a supplier, it comes in two forms: cut and sifted, which looks like small bits and pieces of bark, and powdered. I like to keep both forms on hand, as each has its own usefulness. You can also find Thayer's Slippery Elm throat lozenges on the shelf, for a ready-made bark product.
Slippery Elm used to be in every drugstore and was a household herb in historic times, as evidenced in the fascinating old herbal literature. It has been an official botanical drug in the King's American Dispensatory and in the National Formulary. Today it’s pretty much obsolete except in the fringe herbal renaissance movement and among some of the old-timers still clinging to the good ol’ ways.
My maternal grandmother would have considered any housewife very remiss
who did not keep a supply of slippery-elm bark on hand.
Each spring when the buds were swelling and the sap was running,
she would send my uncles out to gather the year's supply of slippery elm,
for at that time the bark peels easily from the tree,
and the juicy inner bark is easier to detach from the outer, brown bark.
They brought this inner bark back home in one- to two-foot strips an inch or so wide and about a quarter-inch in thickness. When spread on papers in an attic room until thoroughly dried,
it shrank to no more than an eighth to a sixteenth of an inch in thickness.
My grandmother used this dried bark throughout the year in many kinds of foods and home remedies.
- Euell Gibbons "Stalking the Healthful Herbs"
The list of afflictions that Slippery Elm is reputed to soothe and heal goes on and on. Besides being a safe, gentle but powerful medicine it is also considered a nutritive food, used for centuries for convalescence and illnesses where no other food was tolerated. The powdered bark was made into a gruel or porridge for this purpose. There's actually a product on the market now for making instant Slippery Elm gruel. Slippery Elm is also one of the ingredients in the famous Essiac cancer formula.
||Once I have the bark harvested, I cut the strips into small pieces with sturdy scissors and put them in the dehydrator. When I need some of the powdered herb I dry the bark again in the dehydrator or in a low oven (200° or less) until it’s crispy dry and snaps in two easily. Then I put it into an electric coffee grinder and whiz it up. I sift it through a fine mesh strainer and save the fibrous pieces that refuse to pulverize for teas or other preparations.
| I probably don’t use Slippery Elm nearly enough. We have so many options in today’s world for whatever ails us that Slippery Elm just isn’t the home remedy it used to be. The main thing I use Slippery Elm for is sore throats and ulcers. I mix the bark into some yummy tea recipes to drink during cold and flu season. I also make the powder into sore throat lozenges. I recently used Slippery Elm as one of the key ingredients in a tea for someone suffering from a severe acid reflux condition. The results were so successful that he completely avoided an imminent surgery and the doctor was asking for the recipe! (A little prayer went a long way, too, I’m sure…….)
|Wild Cherry (Prunus spp.)
There are several varieties of Wild Cherry that grow in the US, most of them in the Eastern deciduous forests. On the Midwestern prairies, Chokecherries are very common in the brushy areas, and were much loved by the indigenous peoples. In southwestern Wisconsin we have three common Wild Cherries: Pin Cherry
(Prunus pennsylvanica), Chokecherry
(Prunus virginiana), and Black Cherry
|| It’s not hard to learn to identify Cherry trees at any season of the year. The bark of the younger saplings and branches is a shiny brown with the hint of a purple or reddish hue. It has irregular horizontal stripes around it called lentils that are a very strong clue to its identification. The tall, mature trees have a scaly bark on the trunk, while the upper branches have the smooth, lentil look. Here's an outstanding photo shot of a Black Cherry. Another identification key is the presence of an ugly black fungus on the smaller branches, a disease that most of the Cherries in our region are infected with. If you also learn the shape of the long, smooth leaves that turn golden yellow in the fall, you’ll have no trouble noticing the Wild Cherries scattered through the woodlands, field edges, and brushy places.
Black Cherries can bear more heavily on a good year but also tend to be way up high in lofty tree canopies. Sometimes I find a tree with open ground beneath and can pick up the fresh fall, but I have much better success harvesting the fruits of the Chokecherries. Chokecherries are more bush-like, rarely getting very tall, and yield heavy clusters of cherries. There is some interest in Manitoba, Canada in developing a market for Chokecherries, but otherwise they have fallen mostly into disuse. This is probably because they are so puckermouth-dry to eat raw, that most folks don't bother to try them cooked. Unfortunately, Chokecherries are not common here, but keep to very localized spots so I have to just record any sightings in my mental files and take a drive in mid to late August to see if there’s a good harvest.
If I do happen upon a plenteous Wild Cherry harvest, I gather in all I can. The fruits can be a bit unsavory out of hand, chalky, dry and intense tasting, but my steamjuicer can unlock the good juices with almost no effort on my part.
In the kitchen I just fill the basket of the steamjuicer with my cherry harvest. There’s no need to pick all the berries off the stems, I simply pick out any leaves, twigs or other debris to clean ‘em up. I don’t necessarily wash them first either if the place I harvested from is wild enough or far enough from the road, although some good Chokecherry patches grow up close to dirt roads or driveways and might be kinda dusty.
Pretty soon the juicer will yield up the deep, dark, intense Wild Cherry juice. I have clean, sterile jars ready with a couple of tablespoons of honey per pint, and simply pour the hot juice into the jars and cap them. As the juice cools the jars magically seal and I have straight-up, pure Wild Cherry juice to store away. For more on juicing berries, as well as creative ideas for using your juices, click here.
This Wild Cherry juice is a medicine in its own right, it’s extremely high in iron among other minerals and micronutrients. In fact, commercial cherry juice is enjoying some hot press these days with all kinds of health claims being preached. If commercial cherries are so awesome, just imagine how much more so are concentrated Wild Cherries grown in God’s own orchards!
Wild Cherry Bark
Wild Cherry bark is well-known in the old historic herbals and used to be a major ingredient in the first commercial cough syrups as well as the local folk remedies. It contains a certain "cyanogenic glycoside" that stimulates respiration and then sedates the nerves that cause the cough reflex. The bark also acts as a general, mild sedative, a decongestant, expectorant (breaks up and expels mucus), and disinfectant
(helps kill the active germs causing the cold or lung distress). It is still used widely today in herbal formulas and is a must-have for making your own cough medicines.
I harvest fresh Wild Cherry bark every fall. It has one of my all-time favorite aromas and is a pleasure to work with. You can take a pocketknife and scratch a fresh twig from a Cherry tree and enjoy the heavenly scent of cherry amoretto!
The main thing I use the Wild Cherry bark for is to make cough syrup. In the past I’ve dried it for use in tea recipes but I find that I seem to favor other herbs for cough and cold teas, and the dried Cherry bark doesn’t really get used. I use both the bark and the Wild Cherry juice in the cough syrups I make.
Here’s my recipe and directions for making this cough syrup:
Wild Cherry Cough Syrup
Here's a wonderful page on making your own syrups, including some recipes using Wild Cherry Bark:
Wilderness Family Naturals
Please be aware that there are some precautions to be informed about if you plan to experiment with Wild Cherry for consumption. I use the juice freely and the small quantities of syrup my family uses are well within safety guidelines.
*Never eat or make tea from the leaves. The leaves contain cyanide and can be deadly poisonous to humans and livestock.
*Cherry pits also contain cyanide. There are rumors of children dying from eating too many cherry pits. ( I do not pit the wild cherries before steaming them and have never experienced any adverse reactions and I love Wild Cherry juice.)
* Cherry bark contains cyanide also in the form of “cyogenic glycoside”. This is one of the active ingredients in the bark that acts medicinally to provide symptom relief. Just as beneficial drugs can be dangerous if misused, so too can some of our stronger herbal medicines.
*Do not consume large quantities of Cherry bark preparations, be sensible with dosage.
*Be confident in your ability to home-treat children. I have no qualms about administering my cough syrups to my children but someone who is overly nervous or suspicious of herbal remedies will probably not find comfort or peace in using them.
*Do not confuse Wild Cherries with the poisonous Buckthorn, which is also common in these parts. A careless person or child could mistake the black Buckthorn berries for cherries, a toxic mistake. Buckthorn berries have multiple seeds in them, while cherries have one solid pit.
Here's a little more information on Wild Cherry:
Kalyx Herbs and Foods: Black Cherry
A Modern Herbal: Wild Cherry
Poplar (Populus spp.)
Poplar and Aspen are the same tree, the common names vary according to where you live. I used to call them Aspens but I’ve lived in Wisconsin long enough now that I’ve learned to call them Poplars or Popples, as they say up North.
| We have three varieties of Poplar here: Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides), famous for the action of the beautiful shimmering leaves with even the lightest breeze, Large-Toothed Aspen (Populus grandidentata) which have larger leaves than the Quaking Aspen, and also the Balm of Gilead (Populus balsamiferous) which grows in the swampy muskegs way up North in moose country. Balm of Gilead Poplar releases a distinct sweet medicine aroma in the spring when it buds our and after a summer rain. I’ve seen these also used as ornamentals; our neighbor has a couple of these Balm of Gilead trees just a few doors down and I love to walk by and get a little aromatherapy by breathing deep the pleasant fragrance. Cottonwood trees are cousins to the Poplars and can be used much the same way.
Poplar bark is rich in “salicin”, the chemical basis for our modern drug aspirin, which is also found in Willow bark and a few other naturally occurring herbs. I think of Poplar bark like a wild ibuprofen. I use it as a pain medicine and anti-inflammatory. It’s supposed to also help ease the discomfort of arthritis and rheumatism, but I haven’t any personal experience with treating anyone with it for this.
I remember an old man out in the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico, a back country hold-out from the Wild West days, who spoke of his Apache bride using a strong, potent Poplar tea to kill the pain after some mishap that he’d had. I shudder to think of him drinking that brew, as Poplar bark is wickedly bitter.
Making A Tincture
You’d never get anyone now-a-days to drink Poplar bark tea so I make my Poplar bark into an alcohol-based tincture in order to make it more palatable. The alcohol does such a fine job of extracting and dissolving into itself the medicinal components of the bark that small teaspoon-sized doses (dropperfuls) are all you need. This dose can then be diluted in water, making it quite easy to take.
Once my bark is peeled, I pack it fairly tightly into a glass jar. A pint jar is way plenty. Then I pour 100-proof vodka or brandy over the bark until the jar is full and all the herb matter is covered with the alcohol.
There is a little debate in the herb circles about whether 80-proof alcohol is potent enough to extract all the medicinal components you need from plant material. Some herbalists are quite happy with their 80-proof results. Others go for the big guns and use 190-proof grain alcohol. I like to use 100-proof mainly to dispel any doubts about my remedies caused by the debates. 100-proof liquor is harder to find, I have to make a special trip to an urban liquor store to get it, but a little goes a loonnnng way with tinctures.
I cap and label my jar of Poplar tincture and put it away in a cupboard for 6 weeks and let it do its extracting and dissolving work. The beauty of tincture-making is that these herbs are now perfectly preserved and have a shelf-life of forever. There’s rumors you hear of folks finding hundreds-year-old herbal extractions in the basements of old apothecaries in France that are still perfectly viable.
I just leave the Poplar bark in the alcohol up in the cupboard until I need some. I like to pour a little off into a dropper bottle to keep handy in a first aid kit. That pint bottle will last for years most likely and it’s simple enough to make more when it runs out.
To take your Poplar bark tincture for pain relief, take one full dropper or about ¼ teaspoon every fifteen minutes for one hour (4 times). I mix the tincture with a glass of water to make it easy to drink. For acute pain or more immediate relief, you could try taking a dose every 5 minutes up to a half and hour. This amounts to less than a tablespoon of alcohol and an effective dose of medicinal components in Poplar.
I recently used Poplar and Willow bark tinctures to help me through a severe back strain that had be pretty well bed-ridden and in considerable pain. I did the every 15 minute doses and definitely got noticeable relief from the tinctures. I’m so darned healthy from all the wild foods I rarely get to try out these medicinal herbs on myself, so it's nice to have a little personal testimony!!!
Here's a couple of webpages on making your tinctures:
How To Make Your Own Tinctures
Holistic Health Tools: Tinctures
Sage Mountain: Step by Step Directions for Making Excellent Quality Tinctures
The only other way I find myself using Poplar bark is as an ingredient in my Wild Cherry Cough Syrup formula. I include it in the formula because of its anti-inflammatory and mild ibuprofen-like effects.
Some herbalists use Poplar buds medicinally, particularly the Balm of Gilead Poplar and cousin Cottonwood. These buds are very sticky and fragrant due to high amounts of resins. They are generally made into salves or ointments for topical use, but could just as well be tinctured and used for much the same as the bark is, having similar properties.
A Word About Herbal Pain Remedies
Herbal pain relievers don’t come close to what modern pain medication can do. They might help take the edge off a bit or help someone get relaxed and drowsy and hopefully sleep a little deeper, but they don’t give the blessed relief modern drugs can. On the positive side, they don’t have the side effects either.
There are some herbs that could give effective pain relief, but these tend to be the more dangerous herbs, and it takes great skill to safely use poisonous alkaloids to someone’s benefit. This falls in the realm of advanced herbalism, way out of the scope of this website.
Willow (Salix spp.)
Willow is another bark I collect for medicinal purposes. It is a plant that grows all over and is pretty easy to identify. Most folks are familiar with Willow. There are endless species of Willow and it is a botanical nightmare to try to sort them out and key in a specific species.
Willow bark is a posterchild for the story of how herbs evolved into drugs. It was used for centuries for its anodyne (pain-relieving) and anti-inflammatory properties long before the chemical constituents were identified and named and co-opted by the pharmaceutical industry. The famous chemical present in the Willow bark is “salicylic acid” (notice Willow’s Latin name “Salix”). Salicylic acid is the key ingredient in aspirin and chemists today have used the natural-occurring salicylic acid as a blueprint for synthetic acetylsalicylic acid. I always get a chuckle when a reference says that Willow contains an “aspirin-like substance” when in truth it is the aspirin that contains a “Willow-like substance”.
The bark of the White Willow is the preferred species in the herbals, but all Willows contain some measure of salicylic acid, among other things. Medicine made from a milder variety might simply require a slightly larger dose to get the same effect as White Willow. Willow bark is safe enough when used sensibly to allow for a little experimentation with dosage.
I use Willow bark exactly like an aspirin substitute, for all of the same reasons: fever, headache, inflammation, pain. While aspirin is known to cause problematic side effects, the salicylic acid in Willow bark is buffered by other medicinal components in the plant, such as tannins and mucilage. For example, synthetic or isolated salicylic acid can cause gastric bleeding, while the tannins and mucilage present in the Willow alongside the salicylic acid are actually useful remedies for preventing and combating gastric bleeding!
I cut healthy, vibrant Willow branches from some beautiful setting by a river or pond in the fall. Willow is a plant you could never overharvest: when you cut one branch, five more spring up in its place! In fact, basketmakers and willow-workers take advantage of this tendency with the ancient practice of coppicing. It is amazingly prolific and hardy in this way.
Once I have the bark peeled and prepped, I use some to make a tincture, using the same method as for Poplar bark tincture. Then I dry the rest in a dehydrator. I don’t make tea with Willow bark as it is too bitter, but it’s possible to grind the dried bark and take it as capsules. To grind the bark, I put some back into the dehydrator or in a low-temp oven (200° or less) and get it crispy dry. Then I put it in a small electric coffee grinder and whiz it up into a powder. There will be a lot of fiber that doesn’t break down well, so next I put it through a fine meshed sifter. You can buy empty gelatin capsules to put the powder in and take two capsules every 4 hours for an average size person. I only make powder as needed because powdered herbs oxidize rapidly and quickly lose their vitality. Store any unused powder in the freezer.
It’s possible to make your own herbal pills or tablets from powdered herbs. They will look crude and not anything like the uniform, pressed tablets made in the labs. You can use the same technique I shared in the section on making Slippery Elm lozenges. You can buy a product called Willoprin which are manufactured Willow 'aspirin' tabs at the store as well.
I also like to ramble through the Willows later on in the winter when I’m needing some fresh air and exercise and go after the long slender Willow shoots to make harvesting baskets. This crafty side of herbalism is yet to come on the February Herbwalk page. (Rose did not get a chance to complete this part.)
Finally, just for fun, here's a cool page on Willow mathematics: Aspirin Math