Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Treat Pain with White Willow Bark Safely

Every year there are to many complications even death from overuse and complications from NSAIDS.  Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs.  Ibuprofen is often called Vitamin I, by many of my patients.  I routinely hear, "I just pop some Vitamin I and that should take care of it?"

For the record, I'm not against NSAIDS.  I've taken them.  I do always tell people not to take them as preventative, (it causes more inflammation) and don't stay on them long.

Inflammation is a major problem though.  It needs to be addressed to get out of pain faster.  Lets look at some natural alternatives.  It turns out the ancients had some pretty cool knowledge.

I was reading that records indicate that White Willow Bark was used in Mesopotamia 6000 years ago!
In the 1800's the active ingredient in white willow bark was discovered and called salicin.  Chemically modified to salicylic acid, then acetyl salicylic acid, which we now call aspirin.

It has been shown now that willow bark when used to control acute low back pain was more effective then placebo and as equal to COX-2 inhibitor or NSAID.   They were less expensive and less dangerous.

Studies show that 240mg of salicin, as compared to Vioxx as a pain reducer was just as effective with less side effects.  240 mg is about the same that is in a baby aspirin.

So my recommendation is to use white willow bark supplement from a reputable company as either part of your primary anti-inflammatory cocktail or to help limit your NSAID use.


AlanL said...

What would be the argument/benefits for natural willow bark over aspirin?

Jason Ross said...

The side effects of willow bark in the studies were the same as a placebo. None really. You don't develop any GI irritation from the willow bark that some people have with Aspirin.