Desert Willow  by J. Zane Walley

The first recorded mention of Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis) as a medical herb is in Martín de la Cruz's book Libellus de Medicinalibus Indorum Herbis; the first medical book written in Colonial America. Authored in 1552, it was designed to display the rich culture and medical knowledge of New Spain natives. Cruz referred to the plant Aquahuitl, the Aztec word for Desert willow. It is also known as: flowering willow, false-willow, bow willow, and by Hispanic settlers as mimbre, Flor de Mimbre, and jano.

Desert willow, is willow-like shrub or small tree, which inhabits dry arroyos, and grows from 2,000 to 5,500 ft. It occurs in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and further south into Mexico.

Although not an authentic willow, Desert Willow has visual similarities to real willows, particularly in leaf formation. It has long, narrow lance-like leaves that are curved slightly, and are six to seven inches long. Their color is a light to medium green. Soon after budding and sprouting leaves, remarkable trumpet or Orchid-like flowers emerge. They are finely veined in a burgundy hue; with a background of white to light pink; and the throat tinged with soft yellow. They exude one of the most enchanting scents found in the desert.

Parts used are leaves, flowers, and bark from small stems. This herb is one of the best local herbs for use against Candida albicans. Candida is an overgrowth of yeast, which usually occurs in the areas of the mouth/throat or the colon/large intestine. Left unchecked, this bacterial overgrowth, (usually caused by eating or drinking foods and juices high in sugars and starches, or eating too many highly processed foods), overgrows the body's own defensive mechanisms, invading the tissues of the body, and can become a complex, debilitating, long-term illness. Since yeast is the organism involved in fermentation that changes sugars into carbon dioxide gas and alcohol, it becomes clear that this particular disease process could work in several ways to break down not only the body's defense system, but eventually, the structural soundness of body tissues as well.

By using Desert Willow in appropriate dosages over long periods of time, and by avoiding the types of foods on which yeast thrives (refined sugars, and simple sugars), control can be regained over this bacteria, and immune-system functions recover their health. It is an important herb in many biological defense-system dysfunctions, and is a benefit after treatments with anti-biotic drugs, or anti-inflammatory drugs, which interfere with the balance of friendly bacteria in the intestinal tract.

Externally, Desert Willow can be made into an anti-fungal, anti-bacterial tea, which can aid in the healing and prevention of infection in cuts and scrapes. It can also kill tineas (Fungus infections) of the skin such as ringworm, jock itch, or athlete’s' foot. It can also be applied as a poultice of the dried, ground herb, fresh herb, or flowers, or any combination thereof.

A fomentation, (a cloth dipped into the warm tea and applied to affected skin repeatedly) also works very well. Last, as a foot soak (as hot a batch of tea as you can stand.) Feet should be soaked for a half-hour or more; twice per day is best.

Dosages: Desert Willow can be made into a strong infusion by using 1 teaspoon herb/to a cup water brought to a boil, left to boil 10 minutes, and then left to steep (covered) for 15 to 20 minutes after removing the heat source. Drink 1/2 cup of this tea twice daily for long term chronic Candidiasis, or rectal aching. As with all medications, consult with your physician before using.


"The vitamin has been reified. A chemical intangible originally defined as a unit of nutritive value, it was long ago reified into a pill. Now it is a pill; no one except a few precise scientists define it as anything else. Once the vitamin became a pill, it became "real" according to the precepts of American Cartesianism: "I swallow it, therefore it is."

Florence King