Tree bark may not be the first remedy that comes to mind when you’re suffering from aches and pains. But, according to researchers, maybe it should be. Extracts from the White Willow tree are full of pain-relieving properties, and may even help you lose weight, to boot.
White willow bark is a very tough, dark-colored bark from the white willow tree. For centuries this bark has been used by Native Americans for a whole host of medicinal purposes. The flowers of this tree are a brilliant white when it is in full bloom, and have a very fine texture to them.
White Willow Bark History
Use of white willow bark
for medicinal purposes in Europe dates back to the days of the father of medicine: Hippocrates. A standard prescription for all manner of ailments was to chew strips of bark from the white willow tree. They didn’t know how the bark produced its effect, but they sure knew that it worked. The bark worked analgesically, providing those who partook of it with much desired pain relief.
In the early 1900s, French pharmacist, Henri Leroux, along with his Italian counterpart, Raffaele Prina, were able to pinpoint the component of the part which produced pain relief in humans. This component, salicin, has further been investigated and the main nutrients from this component, salicylic acid, has been separated from the other molecules. This acid has become a main ingredient in one of the world’s most utilized medications: aspirin.
Before you dismiss the bark in favor of aspirin, it’s important to note that white willow bark does more than merely relieve pain. Studies have shown that white willow bark also contains other components that have antioxidant properties, as well as being able to reduce fevers, boost immunity, and work as an antiseptic.
White Willow Bark & Arthritis
A number of studies have analyzed the effects of white willow bark
on treating the symptoms of osteoarthritis. In one German study a group of patients was given 240 mg of willow bark extract per day. A control group was given a placebo. After 14 days, the white willow group’s pain scores went down by 14%, compared to 2% for the placebo group.
Other studies have generated similar results, showing that white willow bark is an effective treatment for osteoarthritis pain.
White Willow Bark & Weight Loss
Though it shows no evidence of being a weight loss
stimulator itself, when taken alongside weight loss supplements there does seem to be a higher level of weight loss recorded than with mere weight loss supplements alone. Aspirin is a known intensifying agent for thermogenics, or heat producers. These thermogenics produce heat throughout the body by increasing the rate at which the metabolic system works.
If your metabolic rate is already high before you have started to train for the day, you can be assured that you will get into the fat burning zone faster, and are more likely to continue burning fat post-workout for longer.
As aspirin and white willow bark both have salicylic acid in them, it is reasonable to believe that completing a course of weight loss stimulants along with white willow bark
will see weight loss achieved at a faster rate than using the supplements on their own.
How to Take White Willow Bark
This all sounds great, but where does one find this bark? Are you supposed to tear it from a tree and nibble away at it whenever your knee is feeling a bit niggly?
Fortunately, things have come a long way since Hippocrates’ day. Many companies produce White Willow Bark
supplements. You can commonly find them either in powder or capsule form at most health food stores. As it is all natural, it can be taken daily without any risk of side effects. This is most beneficial to those who do not want to become dependent on pharmaceutical pain relief.
However, as with any supplement, it is important to weigh any potential reactions you may experience. It is not recommended for those who have sensitivity to aspirin.
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There are a multitude of products on the market that claim to help relieve aches and pain, and which stimulate metabolic health. Though many come and go, White Willow bark
is making a resurgence. If it was good enough for the father of medicine, surely it’s good enough for us.