Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Willow Bark for Pain

It should perhaps be no surprise to know that willow bark is an effective herbal pain killer when you realize that the main active ingredient in aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) is a derivative of salicylic acid which is one of the three main ingredients of the willow bark herb.

It was this connection between the active ingredient in what is still the world’s most popular over-the-counter painkiller and the active ingredient in willow bark that originally suggested that it would be a successful herbal painkiller. Unfortunately however, because the absorption rate of salicylic acid from willow bark is somewhat slower than the absorption rate of its chemical cousin and because there is a longer duration, the herbal remedy is not quite as effective as the chemical version.

On the other hand, there is some evidence that a sustained dose of willow bark over a week or so will start to reduce back pain (a daily dosage of 120 to 240 mg a day is recommended), while other studies suggest that a regular dose of willow bark can help to bring some relief to those suffering osteoporosis without any noticeable side-effects.

However, this is a herb that should be avoided if you have a high level of sensitivity to aspirin or suffer peptic or gastric ulcers. Moreover, if you are susceptible to diabetes, gout or have any form of kidney or liver disease, you should not use willow bark.