You worked in the yard all day, and your back hurts. You
want to take something for it,
but you hate taking drugs… so what are some options?
There’s Aspirin, of course. A
friend suggests Acetylsalicylic acid instead; and then you read
that Native Americans used to chew willow bark to ease pain.
A pill, some kind of acid, or natural willow bark extract? Which
would you choose?
As long ago as the fifth century B.C., Hippocrates is said to have
used ground up willow bark to ease aches and pains. Willow bark
contains salicin, the basis of a class of drugs called salicylates.
By the late 1800s, salicylates had become the standard drug for
the treatment of pain and arthritis. However, the treatment was
very irritating to the stomach.
In 1897, a German chemist by the name of Felix Hoffmann set
out to create a less-irritating medicine for his father’s arthritis.
What he came up with was a buffered acetylsalicylic acid, the
basic ingredient of modern aspirin.
In truth, all three choices can reduce pain, but willow bark is not
always available just when you need it. Also, the amount of the
active ingredient varies widely, so how much bark do you chew,
and will they let you chew it at work? It stains your teeth, and
there is the stomach irritation and bleeding – not a good thing.
It is tempting to go for “all natural” remedies, but if you want to
know what you are actually taking, and that it has been shown to
work better than a placebo, take the medically proven pill.