The white willow, a tree native to Asia and Europe, received its name because of its fine white leaves. For generations, doctors from ancient civilizations and modern society alike have used white willow and its active ingredient, salicin, to combat pain and inflammation. When extracting salicin from the bark became too expensive, German researchers developed a synthetic salicyclic acid, the body’s natural byproduct in salicin breakdown. From this synthetic chemical, Bayer created aspirin, but the original source is still a competitive alternative for arthritis management.
1. Rich in Antioxidants
First, what are antioxidants? Think of them as a super chemical that serves as your body’s all-purpose warrior. It supports the immune system with its ability to catalyze free radicals and protect cell membranes. Arthritis is an autoimmune disease, so bolstering your immune system is certainly helpful. In white willow bark in particular, you’ll find tannins and flavonoids.
If you love your wine, you’ve probably heard of tannins and how they make wine healthier for you. You’re free to debate the nutritional value of wine amongst your friends and family, but the tannins are certainly helpful when fighting against viruses, fungi and bacteria. On the other hand, flavonoids are antioxidant compounds that’ll help your cells protect themselves against damage.
2. Reduces Pain Like Aspirin
The extracts from the white willow serve as the base for modern day aspirin and the plant’s products mimic aspirin’s affect on pain. In a German study, a daily dosage of 240 mg of salicin was compared against a placebo for pain reduction in osteoarthritis patients. The placebo group saw a 2 percent increase in pain while the willow bark group should a 14 decrease in pain.
3. Fewer Side Effects Than Aspirin
Aspirin and similar anti-inflammatory may cause side effects like stomach damage or irritation. Willow bark is a natural alternative with few and infrequent side effects. Generally, the bark’s active ingredients are easier on the body and its digestive system. Scientists and doctors believe the bark has lesser side effects either because the body has the chance to break down the plant naturally or the concentration of active ingredients is simply lower.
4. Trusted Medicine for Millennia
In ancient Egypt, medical professionals were already using white willow for its anti-inflammatory properties and Hippocrates, the Greek physician, attested to its medical benefits. In 1829, European scientist identified the active ingredient: salicin. After this, the compound was used to create modern day aspirin. If you’re looking for a natural remedy with a respectable track record and expansive reputation, white willow will fit the bill. It’s been a successful part of medical science for millennia.
5. Affordable Natural Remedy
When you’re treating arthritis, you’ll eventually have to start considering the cost of your medications and remedies. Luckily, you can purchase hundreds of capsules of white willow extracts for just a few dollars. In comparison to buying a smaller bottle of aspirin, you’ll save money immediately and in the long run without having to sacrifice your pain or inflammation relief. Other forms of the extract like oils and teas may be a bit more costly, but most individuals find them affordable for occasional use.
6. Effective Anti-Inflammatory
For centuries, white willow bark and its extracts have been used to combat inflammation. In addition to providing pain relief, it helps the body build its immune system and avoid attacking itself. These functions combined will help reduce swelling and inflammation overall as you arm your body with powerful antioxidants and immunity boosters.
7. Eases Lower Back Pain
Studies testing white willow’s analgesic qualities show a notable decrease in chronic back pain for patients who used the bark over the period of several weeks. Possibly due to inflammation, lower back pain is closely linked to osteoarthritis and many patients find they suffer from both. White willow extracts compel mechanisms that reduce both the pain and inflammation associated with chronic lower back pain. Clinical research so far indicates higher doses are more effective for lower lumber issues.
8. Multiple Methods of Consumption
Willow bark extracts come in a variety of forms. If you really want to start with the raw materials, you can harvest your own bark and extract the active ingredients yourself. However, if you don’t have a chemistry degree, you can easily purchase capsules, oils and teas in local vitamin shops and online. In most cases, you’ll have to apply or consume the product 3 or 4 times daily to ensure the remedy can take full effect. Capsules in particular are cost effective, but many patients enjoy the teas best.
White willow is an excellent natural remedy for the pain and inflammation of arthritis, but like all medicines, it can have unintended side effects when used improperly. Consult with your doctors before you begin your regimen to ensure the plant’s extracts will not interfere with other medications or conditions. Once you get the all clear, grab yourself some white willow and arthritis relief will be just a few capsules or sips away.