If you lived 200 years ago then the chances are good that your family physician regularly prescribed willow bark to control a variety of health problems such as a raging fever or cold and flu symptoms. Willow bark comes from several varieties of willow trees such as the pussy, black, white, European, crack, and others. Harvesters strip away the bark of the sides of the tree’s trunk and branches in long thin sheets to create a variety of medicines.

What Does Willow Bark Do?

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Hippocrates prescribed willow bark to treat a variety of health conditions.

Willow bark acts like aspirin to reduce fever and cope with pain. Throughout history, people have used the holistic formula to treat a headache, arthritis, joint pain, menstrual cramps, goat, and more. The history of the holistic herb can be traced all the way back to Hippocrates when people would chew on the tree’s bark like it was a stick of gum.

Salicin: The Active Ingredient

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Excessive use of willow bark probably led to Beethoven’s death.

A chemical compound known as salicin is the active ingredient found in willow bark. In low quantities, salicin is safe but when used too frequently it can pose a danger. In fact, it is believed that the composer Ludwig von Beethoven may have ingested too much of the herbal formula which led to his death. When Beethoven died, he underwent an autopsy (which was exceedingly rare for the period). The medical report determined that he died as a result of kidney damage caused by the salicin in the tree.

Dangers of Willow Bark

As with any medication, moderation is the key. You cannot consume a large amount of aspirin without facing possible side effects and willow bark is no different. Dr. Matthew Brenneck who is a board-certified naturopathic doctor practicing at the Rocky Mountain Wellness Clinic in Fort Collins, Colorado stated, “The use of too much White Willow bark or Aspirin can lead to gastric ulcers, which can be very painful and are associated with gastric cancers as well. Too much White Willow bark can also be the cause of Reye’s syndrome in children, which can cause liver and brain swelling and have a possibility of death.”

Nature’s Aspirin

Willow bark, known as ‘nature’s aspirin,’ appears to offer comparable benefits. Nowadays, white willow bark enthusiasts use the cureall in the form of powder or as a capsule. The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests using 240 milligrams a day to achieve similar results and benefits as aspirin.

The Many Uses of Willow Bark

The standard uses of willow bark are as a fever reducer or to ease the pain. However, there are other uses. Below is a list of the most popular remedies provided by the bark formula.

Smoother Skin: Treats Acne

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Provides smoother skin with reduced acne

Acne is emotionally devastating for many people. The skin condition can also lead to scarring if not treated early. Nowadays, if you peruse the ingredients of various topical acne medications you will see that the tree’s bark is one of the ingredients because it acts as an anti-inflammatory, astringent, and to soothe.

The tree naturally contains high levels of salicylic acid which acts as a natural exfoliant that encourages the skin to shed away dead cells that can clog pores. Also, the tree hide contains phenolic acids such as flavonoids, salicin, tannins, minerals, and salicortin. When applied to the skin, it spurs the rejuvenation of the cells.

In a study released by the Journal of Clinical Therapeutics, it was found that moderate to mild acne responded well to salicylic acid. In fact, the solution appeared to work better than benzoyl peroxide in treating acne lesions. When the human body processes salicin it turns into salicylic acid.

Back Pain Relief

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Provides much-needed back pain relief

As mentioned, for centuries the herb was the go-to formula for pain relief. However, it appears especially beneficial in treating neck, back, and muscle pain. Dr. Brennecke states “The components of white willow bark inhibit cyclooxygenase, which is responsible for the formation of prostaglandins, which is an inflammatory mediator. By stopping the formation of prostaglandins, the formula acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.”

In 2001, research was released in the Journal of Rheumatology that looked at 200 people who suffered from back pain. Participants using tree herb experienced a noticeable improvement in their discomfort compared to those given a placebo. Higher doses of the herb at 240 mg compared to 120 mg seemed to have greater pain relief.

Menstrual Cramps

Every month some women suffer severe menstrual cramps that impact their lives. The pain occurs due to inflammation of the uterine lining. The powerful uterine contractions occur as a result of prostaglandins. Willow bark appears to have the ability to regulate the prostaglandins and reduce inflammation which eases the pain and discomfort of the cramping. Herbalists have always advocated the use of the tree’s bark to treat the discomfort of menstrual cramping.

When asked about the herb for menstrual cramps, Dr. Brennecke stated, “Ibuprofen is a better choice when it comes to PMS and menstrual cramps but it would be fine to drink white willow bark tea while PMS and menstrual cramps are occurring, but if taken while menstruating, it could increase the bleeding.”

Although willow bark is the follow-up choice to ibuprofen, it is probably safe for those who suffer from stomach upset from aspirin.

Heart Attacks and Stroke Prevention

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May prevent heart attacks

The American Heart Association advocates the daily use of a low dose of aspirin to prevent strokes and heart attacks. Aspirin helps reduce the chance of internal clotting that can prove fatal. However, willow bark might work in a similar fashion.

The tree species has salicylates just like aspirin. However, the dosage appears undetermined. If you drink a cup of the rick dark bark tea every day then you might not achieve the required dose like you would taking a low dose of aspirin each day.

Arthritis and Osteoarthritis Pain

Arthritis and osteopathic pain make everyday life difficult. The tree garnered formula appears to inhibit cyclooxygenase and prostaglandins which reduce inflammation. In a study released by the Journal of Rheumatology, it was found that willow bark at a dose of 240 mg reduced pain significantly.

Combining Willow Bark with Kratom

Combine willow bark and kratom to increase the benefits.

The greatest benefits reaped are when you take two herbs that Mother Nature created to find relief. Both willow bark and kratom effectively reduce inflammation so when used together you can gain greater relief. However, more research needs to be carried out to prove this theory but, at this time, herbal champions believe very strongly in the benefits of both herbs.

Kratom is perfectly legal. You can buy the herb at brick-and-mortar stores or at online vendors such as My Kraton Club. It comes as powder, capsules, or extract. Some users enjoy mixing kratom with the tree herb in warm tea. The combination of the two formulas relaxes, soothes, and potentially eases inflammation in the user.

Headache Relief

Willow bark is widely used to ease tension-related headaches. Salicin found in the willow bark can take longer to work after ingesting but, once working, it seems to last significantly longer than aspirin. It has been a common headache treatment for centuries and contains to be favored by those who advocate the use of herbal medications.

Many headache sufferers enjoy brewing a cup of warm bark tea to sip instead of turning to non-prescription or prescription medications. The kratom and willow bark combination is another option that many holistic health practitioners are trying to treat headaches

If you would like to learn more about using kratom and willow bark please contact My Kratom Club.