Red Willow Bark is a spiritually important herb to the Lakota. Although it assumes the Willow name, it is actually from Red Osier Dogwood. The tree is indigenous to central and southern Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America. Red Willow Bark is an especially popular herb in winter, as it is usually gathered when the tree’s sap production decreases); typically after the fall leaves have fallen and before the spring leaves have sprung.
Native American Uses of Red Willow Bark include smoking; whether in a pipe or rolled, or as teas or oils. It is used in ceremonies and socially. It can be shared with close friends and family to promote kinship. Red Willow bark can be used by itself or combined with other herbs. Red Willow smoke is not addictive and does not cause mood alteration or other psychogenic activity. The smoke is said to help carry messages to the spirit world and aid in prayer. It is smoked to help the mind, body and spirit. It should never be used recreationally for pleasure.
Red Willow Bark acts a lot like aspirin, so it is often used as a pain reliever. Red Willow bark can be used to treat symptoms of the common cold, headache, flu, fever, muscle pain, menstrual cramps, arthritis, gout, and can even help with weight loss. It has been very helpful for people going through chemotherapy because a couple puffs can eliminate feelings of nausea almost immediately. Red willow bark can also be used to treat afflictions of the eyes and ears.