With the frequent use of anti-inflammatories, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and other pain relievers being associated with an increasing number of health problems today, many people are interested in natural pain relievers as than alternatives .
One of them, white willow bark , used in folklore and natural medicines for centuries, shows promise for treating pain naturally with little risk of side effects.
What is white willow bark?
According to a 2015 article in the journal Pythotherspy Research, “willow bark extract has been used for thousands of years as an anti-inflammatory , antipyretic, and pain reliever.”
In other words, white willow bark benefits include decreasing inflammatory responses that contribute to chronic disease, fighting pain , and reducing fever.
The bark of the white willow ( Salix alba ) contains a chemical called salicin , which has anti-inflammatory effects.
Salicin works similarly to acetylsalicylic acid , the active ingredient in aspirin. In fact, in the 1800s , salicin was used to develop aspirin.
Willows are part of the Salicaceae family and are native to Europe, Central Asia, and North Africa .
There are a number of willow species whose bark is used to make extracts, medicines, and supplements . These include the following species:
- white willow or European willow
- black willow or swamp willow
- the fragile willow
- the purple willow
1. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects
Since the time of Hippocrates , people have chewed white willow bark to naturally ease pain and inflammation. Today, studies show that willow bark has the ability to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress and increase the activity of antioxidants, including glutathione.
Both in vitro studies and animal studies have shown that the pain-relieving effects of willow bark are due to its ability to scavenge free radicals and down-regulate inflammatory mediators , including tumor necrosis factor-α and tumor necrosis factor-α. nuclear factor kappa B.
It also seems to affect the production of prostaglandins, thereby reducing the inflammation that causes pain such as cramps and fevers.
2. Used to manage arthritis symptoms and chronic pain
Some research has shown that white willow bark can help people with chronic joint pain and injuries, although study results are somewhat conflicting.
Some studies have shown that white willow bark extract is not an effective treatment for the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, while others have found that it may reduce osteoarthritis-related pain and back pain as well as certain prescriptions.
3. Defense against common diseases and fever
By supporting the immune system , providing antioxidants, and reducing inflammation, white willow can be used to help get rid of fevers, treat colds, help manage flu symptoms , and speed recovery from colds. other diseases.
The increased defense against bacteria and viruses appears to be due to white willow's polyphenol and flavonoid content , as well as other compounds. These antioxidants have been shown to have anti-fever and antiseptic properties.
4. May Help Support Athletic Performance
Because it can provide natural pain relief , white willow bark extract is used by some athletes to support performance and recovery.
Anecdotal reports and a small number of studies suggest it has the ability to reduce muscle and joint pain and combat fatigue that interferes with physical abilities. It has also been widely used throughout history to help treat inflammatory conditions, such as bursitis and tendonitis .
5. May Fight Headaches and Improve Mood
Some studies claim that white willow bark reduces headaches , fatigue, and anxiety .
Although more formal research is needed to confirm how it can improve a person's mood, energy, and focus, it appears that white willow bark may have these effects due to its anti-inflammatory potential. and its ability to reduce oxidative stress - which can interfere with cognitive functions.