White willow bark has been used throughout the ages in both China and Europe. Back around 400 B.C., Hippocrates recommended chewing on the bark to his patients in order to reduce fever and inflammation. When selecting a supplement or herb to try, it’s always good to have that kind of history behind it, and that’s why it’s the health tip of the day.
The main ingredient in white willow is salicin, the same ingredient that aspirin was derived from. But being in a natural state, there is a very low chance of side effects with willow bark compared to a chemical derivative. Long-term use of NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.) can lead to complications such as gastrointestinal discomfort, stomach bleeding, ulcers etc. Even though with white willow a small potential exists for similar side effects as regular aspirin, it is very low, and will tend to be mild. I’ve experienced some stomach bleeding from NSAIDs (Aleve), but have NEVER had a problem with white willow-I often take it on an empty stomach before breakfast.
Willow bark is an effective herbal pain relief for headaches, backaches, and osteoarthritis. Although there aren’t a lot of scientific studies related to the following, some herbalists will recommend white willow for these kinds of pain: menstrual cramps, fever, flu, tendonitis, and bursitis. It is slower than aspirin to take effect, but once it does, the relief lasts longer. Even though researchers feel that salicin is the ingredient that is responsible for the relief, studies have discovered other elements of the bark that have antioxidant, fever-reducing, antiseptic, and immune-boosting properties.
With all of the previously mentioned benefits, no list containing any health tip of the day would be complete without white willow bark. If you have low to moderate daily pain you should REALLY consider giving it a try. It has done wonders for me, safely and without any negative effects. Always check with your health care provider before taking anything new (those who are sensitive to salicylates, like aspirin, should not use willow bark).