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White Willow Bark

White willow bark was first discovered many many years ago. The use of white willow bark dates back to the time of Hippocrates (400 BC) when patients were advised to chew the bark to reduce fever and inflammation. White willow bark contains salicin, which is an ingredient very similar to aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid). The use of white willow bark is continued today to treat pain (particularly low back pain and osteoarthritis). Salicin is the component taking all the credit for pain relief and reducing inflammation. However, other studies have identified several other components of willow bark that have antioxidant, fever reducing, antiseptic, and immune boosting properties.

Studies have shown that while white willow bark posses the same ability to relieve pain and reduce inflammation, it seems to take longer to produce results when ingested. However, although taking longer to set in, it yields longer-lasting results than aspirin or other man-made products. For this reason, white willow bark is gaining popularity in the weight-loss and diet world.

While white willow bark has been shown to have no effect on weight-loss when taken alone, it seems to aid in weight loss supplements. Research has shown it may be able to extend the activity and effects of other ingredients when used in dietary supplements. Aspirin seems to have an impact on ingredients called Thermogenics. These thermogenics are the typically the most common ingredient used in weight loss supplements, as they have an effect on raising metabolic rates and speeding up the fat burning processes in the human body.

There are some things to keep in mind, however when taking white willow bark as a dietary supplement because of salicin’s close similarity to aspirin. Individuals who have a known allergy to aspirin should not take white willow bark or extract. Children under the age of 16 should not be given the supplement because of the slight risk of developing the Reyes Disease, a rare but serious illness associated with the use of aspirin in children. Women who are pregnant and breastfeeding should also avoid white willow bark and/or extract. Some researchers also suggest that people with asthma, diabetes, gout, gastritis, hemophilia and stomach ulcers should also avoid white willow bark. As always, advice from a medical practitioner should always be sought prior to using a new dietary supplement.