Some of us would have experienced the occasional throbbing headaches or thumping migraines as a result of sleep-deprivation or mental health. Or maybe the sporadic body ache that pays its visit with age. Instinctively, most of us would head to our medicine cabinets, draw it open and reach out for that bottle of aspirin or a slab of Panadol. These pain suppressors are the popular go-to drug for many users around the world and have been reported to be one of the most prevalent and sellable pharmaceutical products for over a century. However, do you know that nature has its own aspirin equivalent that has been utilised for thousands of years by the ancient population?
Willow bark, or what scientists label as “nature’s aspirin”, possesses a precursor to modern painkillers, which essentially delivers identical benefits as your aspirin or Panadol tablets and are able to effectively relieve a number of health ailments. Apart from its liquid and powder extract, the willow bark, particularly white willow bark, is made widely available in the actual form of its tree bark in bit-size for chewing.
What is Willow Bark?
Willow bark is essentially the bark of the white willow tree. This tree originated in Europe and Central Asia and its bark has been valued as an effective medicinal element for almost five thousand years. If you are thinking of searching for a white willow tree and scraping out its bark to save yourself a couple of dollars, think again. White willow trees consist of an inner and outer bark, both of which contain different concentrations of compounds, rendering each layer more suitable for specific ailments than the other. For this reason, we encourage you to make a trip down to the nearest store with your wallet and rely on a qualified herbalist or alternative medicine practitioner to advise you on the best willow bark supplements or powder for your condition.
Willow bark can be consumed in the form of tea by boiling the chopped bark bits or consume in its capsule form. Willow bark contains a wealth of unique nutritional compounds, such as salicin and tannin, which results in a positive impact on your body and reward you with incredible health benefits if prepared and administered correctly.
Researchers have studied the willow bark comprehensively in recent years and its health perks are found to be almost endless, which is why it remains such a valuable and trusted alternative medicine for a number of illnesses and disorders. Read on to find out more on the potential benefits of the willow bark.
If you look closely at the ingredients of your cosmetic and personal care products, you may find that some of them contain willow bark extract, and for good reason. The willow bark possesses astringent, soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as a reasonable dose of salicylic acid — a beta hydroxy acid that serves as a natural exfoliant in numerous acne treatments due to its ability to eliminate dead skin cells, while at the same time, unclog the pores. Additionally, it also contains phenolic acids, including salicortin and salicin, as well as tannins, flavonoids and other essential minerals — all of which are effective compounds with regards to skin rejuvenation.
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Therapeutics, it was found that mild or moderate acne problems can be effectively remedied with non-prescription agents such as salicylic acid. Researchers claimed that this agent can reduce primary lesions, thus reducing the level of acne-related lesions severity. The same study also indicated that salicylic acid is more effective than benzoyl peroxide when it comes to reducing flare ups. Several other studies have shown that the salicin in willow bark is converted into salicylic acid when it is processed in the body, which makes it a favourable beauty ingredient in skin care.
Lowers Risk of Heart Attacks
Several studies have shown that the white willow bark contains salicylates, a compound that exists in aspirin and is therefore believed to have the same effect on the heart as the drug does. According to the American Heart Association, a low dose of aspirin a day may prevent the chances of a stroke or heart attack as the capsule has been scientifically linked to minimising the probability of internal blood clotting, which is often the trigger to these potentially acute health issues. Since numerous studies have established the effects of aspirin and willow bark to be similar, it has led suggestions that the willow bark extract may bring about comparable benefits.
Eases Menstrual Cramps
Menstrual cramps are typically the result of uterine lining inflammation and the muscular contractions caused by prostaglandins. Some studies have shown that the willow bark extract to possess the ability to normalise the creation of prostaglandins and lower inflammation, which inevitably relieves cramps and other PMS symptoms.
The Bottom Line
Willow bark has been shown to be effective in alleviating several mild discomforts and treating certain health conditions. Although it may seem as a bright prospect and a potentially suitable alternative to aspirin, we highly encourage you to discuss the consumption of willow bark with your doctor or physician before chomping on willow bark bits.