When was the last time you chewed on some bark to help with your aches and pains? Never, you may say? According to researchers, it’s about time you started. Extracts from the white willow tree are full of pain relieving properties, and may even help you lose weight to boot.
White willow bark is very tough, dark colored bark from the weeping willow tree. The bark has been widely used in Native American medicinal remedies (think the weeping willow tree from the Pocahontas legend). The bark receives the name “white willow” because when in full bloom, the leaves of the tree are covered in a fine white hair.
The first recorded use of the white willow tree for medicinal purposes dates back to Hippocrates era (approximately 460-370 BCE). Patients who complained of varying ailments ranging from pains through the joints, to migraines, and even “women troubles,” were advised to chew the bark of the willow tree. This bark worked as an analgesic, providing much desired pain relief.
In the early 1900s, French pharmacist Henri Leroux, along with his Italian counterpart, Raffaele Prina, were able to pinpoint the component of this part which produced the pain relief in humans. This component, salicin, has further been investigated and the main nutrients from this component, the salicylic acid, has been separated from the other molecules. This acid has found its way to become a main ingredient in one of the world’s most utilized medications, aspirin.
Before you dismiss the bark in favor of aspirin, it’s important to note that white willow bark does more than merely relieve pain. Studies have shown that white willow bark also contains other components that have antioxidant properties, as well as being able to reduce fevers, boost immunity, and work as an antiseptic.
Though it shows no evidence of itself being a weight loss stimulator, when taken alongside weight loss supplements, there does seem to be a higher level of weight loss recorded than mere weight loss supplements alone. Aspirin kick starts thermogenic ingredients in weight loss supplements. These thermogenics produce heat throughout the body by increasing the rate at which the metabolic system works. If your metabolic rate is already high before you have started to train for the day, you can be assured that you will get into the fat burning zone faster, and are more likely to continue burning fat post-workout for longer. As aspirin and white willow bark both have salicylic acid in them, it is reasonable to believe that completing a reasonable use of weight loss stimulants with white willow bark will see weight loss achieved at a faster rate than using the supplements on their own.
This all sounds great. But where does one find this bark? Are you supposed to tear it from a tree and nibble away at it when your knee is feeling a bit sore? Fortunately things have come a long way since Hippocrates day. Many companies produce white willow bark supplements. You can commonly find them either in powder or capsule form at most health food stores. As it is all natural, it can be taken daily without any risk of side effects. This is most beneficial to those who do not want to become dependent on pharmaceutical pain relief. However, as with any supplement, it is important to weigh any potential reactions you may experience. It is not recommended for those who have sensitivity to aspirin.
There are a multitude of products on the market that claim to help relieve aches and pain and stimulate metabolic health. Though many come and go, white willow bark is making resurgence. If it was good enough for the father of medicine, surely it’s good enough for us.
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