Drugs A - Z
Generic Name: Populus tremula
CategoryHerbs & Supplements
Aspen, balm of gilead, cottonwood, pando, poplar, popple, Populus sieboldii, Populus tremula L., Populus tremuloides, quaking aspen, Salicaceae (family), the trembling giant.
Populus is a genus of trees that includes the cottonwoods, poplars, and aspens, all of which are sometimes termed poplars or popples. Most of the available scientific evidence has reported on aspen, and there are very few reports mentioning cottonwood.
Aspen is a deciduous tree native to northern hemisphere temperate climates. Although aspen has shown antibacterial and antiplatelet activity, there is currently insufficient available evidence in humans to support the use of aspen for any indication.
Aspen pollen, bark, wood, and saw dust are known to cause allergic reactions in sensitive people, including contact dermatitis, rhinoconjunctivitis, and asthma, and there may be cross-sensitivity to other tree pollens, especially in the Salicaceae family.
EvidenceDISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
TraditionWARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiplatelet (blood thinner), rheumatism.
Adults (over 18 years old)
There is no proven safe or effective dose for Populus species in adults.
Children (under 18 years old)
There is no proven safe or effective dose for Populus species in children.
SafetyDISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to Populus species.
Side Effects and Warnings
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists poplar buds (Populus balsamifera, P. candicans Ait., and P. nigra L.) as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) for flavoring.
Salicyl alcohol and salicylaldehyde in aspen bark, wood, and sawdust may cause contact allergic reactions, such as skin rash or eczema.
Aspen pollen may cause allergic rhinoconjunctivitis and asthma and there may be cross-sensitivity with other tree pollens, especially in the Salicaceae family.
Use cautiously in patients with sensitivity to aspen pollen, bark, wood, or sawdust, or other species of the Salicaceae family.
Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
Populus species are not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.
Interactions with Drugs
Extracts from aspen bark may have antibiotic effects. Use cautiously with antibiotic medications due to possible additive effects.
Populus may increase the risk of bleeding when taking with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders; dosing adjustments may be necessary.
Aspen contains salicylates and thus may have anti-inflammatory properties. Caution is advised when taking aspen with other anti-inflammatory agents, especially aspirin.
Interactions with Herbs & Dietary Supplements
Extracts from aspen bark may have antibacterial effects. Use cautiously with herbs and supplements with antibacterial activity due to possible additive effects.
Populus may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto.
Aspen contains salicylates and thus may have anti-inflammatory properties. Caution is advised when taking aspen with other anti-inflammatory agents. Willow bark contains high amounts of salicin and may have additive effects with aspen.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature, and was peer-reviewed and edited by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com): Nicole Giese, MS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Tera Stock, PharmD (Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Catherine Ulbricht, PharmD (Massachusetts General Hospital); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration).
BibliographyDISCLAIMER: Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Aalto-Korte K, Valimaa J, Henriks-Eckerman ML, et al. Allergic contact dermatitis from salicyl alcohol and salicylaldehyde in aspen bark (Populus tremula). Contact Dermatitis 2005;52(2):93-95.
Celik G, Mungan D, Pinar M, et al. Poplar pollen-related allergy in Ankara, Turkey: how important for patients living in a city with high pollen load? Allergy Asthma Proc 2005;26(2):113-119.
Eriksson NE, Wihl JA, Arrendal H, et al. Tree pollen allergy. III. Cross reactions based on results from skin prick tests and the RAST in hay fever patients. A multi-centre study. Allergy 1987;42(3):205-214.
Estlander T, Jolanki R, Alanko K, et al. Occupational allergic contact dermatitis caused by wood dusts. Contact Dermatitis 2001;44(4):213-217.
Faustova NM, Faustova ME, Deineko IP. [Antibacterial activity of aspen bark extracts against some pneumotropic microorganisms]. Zh.Mikrobiol.Epidemiol.Immunobiol. 2006;(3):3-7.
Ince A, Kart L, Demir R, et al. Allergenic pollen in the atmosphere of Kayseri, Turkey. Asian Pac.J Allergy Immunol 2004;22(2-3):123-132.
Jolanki R, Suhonen R, Henriks-Eckerman ML, et al. Contact allergy to salicyl alcohol in aspen bark. Contact Dermatitis 1997;37(6):304-305.
Kagawa K, Tokura K, Uchida K, et al. Platelet aggregation inhibitors from Populus sieboldii Miquel. Chem Pharm Bull.(Tokyo) 1992;40(8):2191-2192.
Thiede WH, Banaszak EF, Fink JN, et al. Hypersensitivity studies in popple (Aspen tree) peelers. Chest 1975;67(4):405-407.
Von Kruedener S, Schneider W, Elstner EF. A combination of Populus tremula, Solidago virgaurea and Fraxinus excelsior as an anti-inflammatory and antirheumatic drug. A short review. Arzneimittelforschung. 1995;45(2):169-171.
Yazicioglu M, Oner N, Celtik C, et al. Sensitization to common allergens, especially pollens, among children with respiratory allergy in the Trakya region of Turkey. Asian Pac.J Allergy Immunol 2004;22(4):183-190.