According to the National Health Institute (NIH), approximately 11% of the population is suffering from some form of pain, from mild or occasional to chronic or severe. That’s about 25.3 million Americans! Many of those aches are in the joints, and a reason that sends millions of people to their doctors for relief. For those seeking more than the traditional drugs and narcotics prescribed, white willow bark is proving to be a safe and effective way to bring joint pain relief.
What Is White Willow Bark?
White willow bark comes from the bark of white willow trees. It has been used in Chinese and European medicine for centuries and the earliest settlers in this country learned of its pain relieving properties from Native Americans.
White willow bark is often called nature’s aspirin due to the pain-relieving compound found in the bark called salicin.
How White Willow Bark Provides Joint Pain Relief
When salicin is ingested, the body converts it to salicylic acid, which lowers prostaglandin levels. Prostaglandins are long-chain hydroxyl fatty acids produced naturally by the body and can be found in the lining of the stomach, the intestines, the uterus and all smooth muscles throughout the body. They help regulate body temperature, control inflammation and vascular permeability. They are also responsible for uterine contractions during birth and the cause the painful cramps some women experience while menstruating. Too many prostaglandins circulating in the body, especially the joints, causes pain.
The salicin in white willow bark is similar to aspirin and in addition to pain relief can help reduce inflammation in the joints and reduce fevers. Several studies have actually shown it to be as, or more effective at relieving pain, than aspirin. It does take longer to bring pain relief but typically its effects last longer, making it a good alternative for those seeking joint pain relief who do not want to be popping synthetic drugs all day.
Besides joint pain relief white willow bark can also be taken for:
- Menstrual cramps
- Lower back pain
If you would like to try white willow bark, the recommended dosage is 300 mg in capsule form twice a day with a meal. Just be sure to purchase a product that is standardized to 15 percent of the active ingredient salicin.
White willow bark is for adults only. There is no safe dosage determined for children. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not take it either. Always consult with your doctor before taking any supplement to avoid unfavorable drug reactions. Those who are sensitive or allergic to aspirin should not take white willow bark supplements.
With any medication or supplement there is the possibility of side effects. Fortunately white willow bark side effects tend to be mild but include:
- Upset stomach (nausea)
- Skin rash
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Kidney or stomach inflammation
Natural Pain Relief
Most people will experience some degree of joint pain in their lifetime. If you are looking for an alternative to traditional pain relievers for joint pain relief, consider taking a white willow bark supplement.