Willow bark extract has been used for thousands of years as an anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, and analgesic. In spite of its long history of use, relatively few human and animal studies have been published that confirm anecdotal observations. A small number of clinical studies have been conducted that support the use of willow bark extracts in chronic lower back and joint pain and osteoarthritis. Willow bark extracts also are widely used in sports performance and weight loss products presumably because of anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities, although no human studies have been published that specifically and directly document beneficial effects. In recent years, various in vitro and animal studies have demonstrated that the anti-inflammatory activity of willow bark extract is associated with down regulation of the inflammatory mediators tumor necrosis factor-α and nuclear factor-kappa B. Although willow bark extracts are generally standardized to salicin, other ingredients in the extracts including other salicylates as well as polyphenols, and flavonoids may also play prominent roles in the therapeutic actions. Adverse effects appear to be minimal as compared to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs including aspirin. The primary cause for concern may relate to allergic reactions in salicylate-sensitive individuals.
Keywords: Salix alba; Willow bark extract; analgesic; anti-inflammatory; lower back pain; osteoarthritis; sports performance; weight loss.
Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.