The willow tree, scientifically known as Salix Alba, is a deciduous tree that grows in waterfronts, meadows, groves, humid places, hilly areas and fields. Its stem, which usually grows crooked, can reach up to 25-30 meters in height. At first, the bark is smooth and has a grayish-green color. Over time, vertical cracks begin to develop on the bark of the willow tree. Its leaves are spear-shaped and can be up to 10 centimeters long. They are of a greenish-gold color and have irregular edges.
Acetylsalicylic acid, the active ingredient in the famous medicine called aspirin was first extracted from willow tree bark in 1838. This ingredient has been subsequently chemically synthesized and began to be used on large scale in the anti-inflammatory medicine industry. The bark, leaves and flowers of young willow branches are harvested for therapeutic purposes. White willow bark is composed of an important quantity of salicylic compounds, as well as wax, vitamin, cellulose, resin and oxalates.
Due to these naturally beneficial compounds, white willow bark is a very effective ingredient in the treatment of many illnesses, including those that pertain to the arthritis class.
What is arthritis?
The term “arthritis” is an umbrella term that refers to a wide variety of diseases that share a lot of common ground in both symptomatology and treatment methods. Up to this moment, medical research in this field has discovered over 100 types of arthritis, and the numbers seem to be rising as research progresses. Out of all these types, the most common are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriatic arthritis, juvenile arthritis, septic arthritis, reactive arthritis and fibromyalgia.
Arthritis consists in the inflammation of one or more joints of the human body. If the inflammation occurs at the level of two or more joints, it usually occurs symmetrically, meaning that it can affect both knees, both hips, both hands etc. The symptom palette of most arthritis types is comprised mainly of pain, swelling and stiffness at the level of the diseased joint or joints.
The benefits of white willow bark
The active substances that can be found in white willow bark give its derived medicinal products antirheumatic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, sedative, antipyretic, toning, astringent and hemostatic properties. White willow bark products are used in the treatment of rheumatic affections, in order to diminish pain and combat fever, as well as in states of nervous irritability and anxiety, nervous insomnias, muscle pain and even excessive foot sweating.
What is more, aspirin, which we have previously established to be derived from white willow bark, is a very popular non-steroid anti-inflammatory medicine used in the pharmaceutical treatment of many types of arthritis, alongside ibuprofen and other common medicines. The treatment of psoriatic arthritis is an exception from this, due to the fact that aspirin can worsen the rashes that appear at the level of the skin in the case of this particular type of arthritis.
The inappropriate usage of white willow bark can cause some unpleasant side effects such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea and even convulsion. Therefore, as always, it is best that you consult with your doctor before taking the decision to include this natural ingredient in your treatment plan.