Sometimes “modern” medicine is a little slow to catch on to a good remedy. In the case of one effective pain reliever, it’s about 2,500 years behind the curve.
Around 400 B.C., Hippocrates – who doctors call the Father of Modern Medicine – was using this herb to fight pain, fevers and inflammation.
Meanwhile, Native Americans used the same herb for many of the same reasons. They also discovered it was effective for toothache. In fact, they called the source of this herb “the toothache tree.”
The tree is white willow. And the herb is its inner bark, which contains a substance called salicin. Willow bark is still widely used in Europe for pain – and with good reason. It works.
But when chemists figured out how to make synthetic salicin in the 1800’s, many doctors forgot about willow bark. Today, especially in the U.S., this gentle herb doesn’t get much respect.
That’s a shame, because willow bark doesn’t have something that most pain relievers do: side effects. It’s incredibly gentle. Centuries of use across Europe, China and North America have proven its safety.
And – in spite of what the medical establishment would like you to believe – it’s very effective. Especially for lower back pain. Even recent studies show willow bark extracts work well.
A hospital study in Israel, for example, tested two doses of willow bark extract against a placebo for lower back pain.
After 4 weeks, only 6% of the placebo group was pain-free. But 21% of the low-dose willow group had no more pain. And a whopping 39% of the high-dose group got rid of their pain completely.1
Other studies have found willow bark can help relieve persistent joint pain.
German doctors split a group of adults with chronic joint pain into two. They gave half willow bark extract. The other half took a placebo. After just two weeks, the willow group had 14% less joint pain. But members of the placebo group were in greater pain.2
And at Columbia University, researchers combed through decades of studies. After reviewing the evidence in 2007, they agreed. White willow bark is effective for lower back pain.3
One reason it works so well is that willow bark contains more than just salicin.
German scientists felt there was too little salicin in willow bark to provide the level of pain relief the studies reported. So they analyzed the plant chemicals it naturally contains. They discovered two – polyphenols and flavonoids – which appear to add to willow bark’s effectiveness.4
Finally, cost is another good reason to give willow bark a try.
In a multi-clinic study, more than twice as many patients got complete pain relief using willow bark as those using the clinics’ normal services. And willow bark extract cost up to 40% less. 5
White Willow is also widely available as a nutritional supplement in health food stores and online. If you’re looking for a gentle way to ease pain – especially lower back pain – it’s worth considering.
Yours in continued good health,
Best Life Herbals Wellness Team
1 Chrubasik, S., et al, “Treatment of low back pain exacerbations with willow bark extract: a randomized double-blind study,” Am J Med. Jul 2000; 109(1): 9-14.
2 Schmid, B., et al, “Efficacy and tolerability of a standardized willow bark extract in patients with osteoarthritis: randomized placebo-controlled, double blind clinical trial,” Phytother Res. Jun 2001; 15(4): 344-350.
3 Vlachojannis, J.E., et al, “A systematic review on the effectiveness of willow bark for musculoskeletal pain.” Phytother Res. Jul 2009; 23(7): 897-900.
4 Nahrstedt, A., et al, “Willow bark extract: the contribution of polyphenols to the overall effect,” Wien Med Wochenschr. 2007;157(13-14): 348-351.
5 Chrubasik, S., et al, “Potential economic impact of using a proprietary willow bark extract in outpatient treatment of low back pain: an open non-randomized study,” Phytomedicine. Jul 2001; 8(4): 241-251.
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