White Willow Bark

Dating back to ancient Egyptian and Greek medicine, white willow bark was cited by the physician Hippocrates (400 B.C.) as an effective remedy for both soreness and elevated temperature. In fact, its use became so wide-spread in the 1800's, that a German company called Bayer created a synthetic version of it based on the active ingredient, salicin. You may be surprised to find out that this synthetic form was known as acetylsalicylic acid, another name for our common-day aspirin. Unfortunately, this synthetic version commonly known as aspirin is highly irritating for stomach lining, and has even been indicated in stomach bleeding and the development of ulcers. For this reason, white willow bark is a more gentle, yet equally effective, substitute.

Purported medicinal uses of White Willow Bark
White Willow Bark White willow bark is most readily used as a treatment for pain, inflammation and fever, and is particularly helpful for the following:

  • Relief of pain in the joints
  • Treatment of acute pain
  • Pain relief for rheumatoid and osteoarthritis
  • General pain reliever

And the wonderful news is that, unlike common aspirin, white willow bark is not nearly as irritating to the lining of our stomach.

Research on White Willow Bark
One German study on people with osteoarthritis found that patients taking white willow bark had lowered pain by 14%, when compared to a placebo group, who actually showed a 2% increase in pain.

Another study published in the American Journal of Medicine also supported the evidence regarding white willow bark’s ability to aid in pain management. The study showed that 39% of patients with lower back pain reported being pain-free while taking specified doses of the herb.

A 6-week trial on the effectiveness and safety of willow bark found that patients with hip and/or knee osteoarthritis, as well as patients with rheumatoid arthritis, greatly benefited from taking the herb for pain relief. In the osteoarthritis trial, a daily dose of 240 mg of salicin (willow bark’s main active ingredient), was shown to significantly reduce pain and inflammation.

White willow bark has also been used safely with the same benefits for dogs.

Avoid taking this herb if your dog is currently taking ginkgo, Vitamin E or garlic. Consult a doctor if your dog is taking any prescription medication, as there may be adverse side-effects in the combination with medications.

Adverse Reactions
Rare side effects may include generalized stomach discomfort.

Biegert C et al. "Efficacy and safety of willow bark extract in the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis: results of 2 randomized double-blind controlled trials." Journal of Rheumatology. 31.11 (2004):2121-30.

Chrubasik S et al. "Treatment of low back pain exacerbations with willow bark extract: a randomized double-blind study." American Journal of Medicine. 109.1 (2000):9-14.

Schmid B et al. "Efficacy and tolerability of a standardized willow bark extract in patients with osteoarthritis: randomized placebo-controlled, double blind clinical trial." Phytotherapy Research. 15.4 (2001) 344-50.

- Ingredient used in Human formula

- Ingredient used in Canine formula