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Red willow pain reliever

Discussion in 'Hygiene and First Aid / Medicinal' started by ThreeFires, Jan 23, 2012.

  1. ThreeFires

    ThreeFires Tenderfoot

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    I'm not big into sharing natural medicines, mainly because I'm not a doctor, but this one really does work well. So, I thought I'd share it. Red willow also goes by Red osier dogwood and I'm not sure if it has other names. But, it works great for toothaches when chewed, that I do know. :) Beware if you are allergic to aspirin as it contains the same ingredient that causes the reaction.

    Here's a quick vid where I tested it out. I had a real bad toothache and it was taking the fun out of things. But, after chewing a pinch of the bark my tooth felt much better in short order.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQyk3O8tIM8
     
  2. bushwacker bob

    bushwacker bob Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)

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    The dried bark of red dogwood also makes an acceptable tobacco substitute.(Cornus Alba sibirica)
    I suspect you are refering to salix alba britzensis which is not widely seen in the UK
     
    #2 bushwacker bob, Jan 23, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2012
  3. Toddy

    Toddy Mod
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    Is this the kinnikinik (not sure of the spelling, sorry :eek:) that the native Americans use ? Not native here....but is it related to the red and yellow stemmed shrubs that are planted in urban flower beds as landscaping features ?

    Native European willows do work in a similar fashion, I find goat willow best because it tastes best of them all :)

    cheers,
    Toddy
     
  4. Paul_B

    Paul_B Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)

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    Whilst sipping pine needle tea recently a group of us were talking about natural remedies and willows came up for the much known salicylic acid (not sure of spelling) or the main, active ingredient in aspirin. You can actually buy bark of some trees as a herbal remedy for intestinal problems so I was wondering about willow bark for pain relief. Is it the outer bark or the inner?? Am I right in thinking it has the thick, outer bark and an inner layer you can scrape off to make an infusion??

    Are all UK found willows relatively safe to use IF you have no reaction to aspirin that is?? Also is it possible if you take a tea style infusion to the same frequency as you would aspirin tablets (at most) would you get too much of it into your system for your own health?? I am not likely to do this as tablets are so easy to get hold of and aspirin hardly works for me (paracetemol does but not aspirin) but I'd be interested if anyone knows about risk of overdose by infusions.

    Thought I would ask on this thread to save opening up another that is so similar.
     
  5. Toddy

    Toddy Mod
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    This is where it gets awkward.......herbal medicines are as effective as the preparations of the pharmaceutical companies, but, and it's a big but......what plant, what season, where, and in what, is it growing, how was it cropped, how has it been prepared ....and the list goes on, then you bring in who's it for, what's the need, what age, health, fitness, allergy.....it can be a minefield.

    So, bearing that in mind, I find that fresh or dried, *I* just chew a bit of the bark about the size of a toffee penny. I strip the outer layer off as fine as possible first, and just take my time to the chewing. It's not really chewing, it's more just keeping it moving in my mouth in lots of saliva and kind of squeezing at it with my teeth. It can be very bitter, but bitter's not a bad thing, and after a little it soothes that away too.

    The herbal preparation can be found in old books under 'Willowfine'.

    The original aspirin is the meadowsweet though.

    Both are so common around where I live that I don't think to dry the bark to use as an infusion. There are about thirty willow trees within two or three minutes walk of the house.
    Meadowsweet I dry the flourish, and that I do make into tea. It soothes and eases arthritis and is a very great kindness.

    Xylaria mentioned the willow not so long ago, and she has a website now for the bushcraft company she works with, I think she gave clearer information than I did.

    cheers,
    M
     
  6. Paul_B

    Paul_B Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)

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    Meadowsweet! That was the other thing I read about combining with inner bark of willow for an infusion I think anyway. Getting some plant and tree ID books soon and foraging books (hopefully that show some of this information about remedies from nature). I'm not into new age homeopathy but a strict drugs type from the doc but some of the old remedies like willow do have scientific fact behind them so I'm happy to try. You won't find me in Holland and Barrett soon looking for cod liver oil but I might get some willow and the like.

    Amazing what being impressed bu scots pine needle tea has done for me accepting non-drug company stuff!!
     
  7. Paul_B

    Paul_B Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)

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    PS thanks Toddy. Your knowledge is quite high on this sort of thing. Impressive.
     
  8. lannyman8

    lannyman8 Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)

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    i just scrape the "green" outer bark off then use the white inner stuff to chew on, i use a nice fresh looking piece of newer growth from the tip of a branch....

    i chew form between 2 - 5 mins, normaly untill the mix becomes sweet tasteing then spit it out, it takes a while to get working but works for longer than asprin, i did over do it a bit one day and felt a little tipsey as it where...:)

    regards.

    chris.
     
  9. ThreeFires

    ThreeFires Tenderfoot

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    Cornus sericea is the latin name I have for it, easily removed red bark, grows in wet areas, and has a white inner bark that is easily exposed by removing the outer red bark. This is where the medicine is, the inner bark or cambium layer I believe it's called. It's a dogwood species, not willow. I find common names confusing, especially across borders. But, yes, it makes an excellent tobacco substitute or additive and the smell reminds me of Teaberry. Most people I know call it red willow because of the properties, aspirin and it is easily weaved into baskets and such like other "willow" or Salix species.
     
  10. ThreeFires

    ThreeFires Tenderfoot

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    There is a yellow stemmed variety here. They both get white berries, and yes the red, for certain, was used as kinnickinick, however you spell it. LOL! But, kinnickininck from what I've gathered is a general term meaning anything smoked, or perhaps anything added to tobacco.

    I don't know if it relates to across waters since I'm in the US, but the best way I've found to ID it is by the red bark, combined with opposite branching, along with the white berries if visible, and the very distinct dogwood leafs that have veins which will cling and hold the leaf together when torn apart. And, if you find all these features except the red bark, and it's yellow instead, then you have the yellow variety. I've not used the yellow variety and am unsure if it has the same properties. I suppose if it smelled like Teaberry when scraped then it likely would, as that is the smell of the medicine.

    I hope this hasn't confused the subject, but once you see it, it is unmistakable even from a distance as the red bark shows right through at a distance especially in winter.
     
  11. ThreeFires

    ThreeFires Tenderfoot

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    Paul_B, I pretty much just use it the way Toddy and Chris described, by chewing. It's the inner bark you want, but I'll chew the outer too if I'm in a rush. It works extremely well and unless you aare allergic to aspirin it would be hard to OD on it. BUT, it doesn't take much aspirin to overdose. The raw form prom plants is supposed to be much easier on your system. I get very little relief from taking two aspirin, but by chewing or more or less allowing a small wad of the inner bark to rest in my mouth and swallowing the saliva, as gross as that may or may not sound, I get a whole lot of relief in short order and it seems to last much longer.

    I've used Wintergreen or Teaberry in the same manner and don't get near the relief as with the red willow. As far as other true willows I can't say much as I haven't used them enough, nor do I know enough about them to feel confident saying one way or the other. We have many varieties of true willow in Michigan, and many more that are non-native, so I can't begin to ID or use them, other than for weaving fish traps and such.
     
  12. Toddy

    Toddy Mod
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    It is one of the dogwoods planted for colour then. Usually kept pruned hard back every year. Apparantly it's being considered an incipient weed of some Irish wetlands (probably means they'll remove it like we do the rhodies). It doesn't seem to set seedlings but spreads by layering of the roots to form large clumps.
    http://www.watsonia.org.uk/Wats18p33.pdf

    I only know of it from the council plantings and as an occasional colourful bit in basketry.
    Come to think on it, the two flowerbeds I knew that had it growing, it wasn't thriving (no idea why, Lanarkshire is sodden wet) and has been howked out.

    Thank you for the information on it's other use :)

    cheers,
    Toddy
     
  13. ThreeFires

    ThreeFires Tenderfoot

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    You're welcome Toddy and thanks for the link. That's it! an incipient weed. I find that link a bit ironic as we have so many non-native invasives here from all over the world. I hadn't considered american plants wreaking havoc elsewhere.

    Here, if I find it cut back, it's usually because someone is trimming it for straight shoots to do their weaving with. Another thing I've found it good for is making grills for cooking over the fire. I'm not very artistic, lack patience, but it is good for those who are.
     
  14. BoonDoc

    BoonDoc Forager

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    When self medicating using natural remedies, it is important to have the correct dosage. With Willow Bark, there is a trick that I learned from a North American First Nation herbalist:
    Everyone has a way to find the correct amount of Willow Bark to use for their pain. Use the hollow of your palm to hold the bark. Whatever you can fit into the palm of your hand is the maximum dosage for that particular person.
    This does not mean stacking it up. It means just a small mound of the bark.

    Stay safe....
     
  15. Toddy

    Toddy Mod
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    Do you mean a small mound of fresh bark or dried ? and is that a day's worth or one dose ?
    Either way, I've got little hands but that would be waaaay too much for me for normal use. Interesting method for maximum though :)

    cheers,
    Toddy
     
  16. PDA1

    PDA1 Settler

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    he analgesic effect of willow bark and meadow sweet has been known and used for thousands of years. The early chemists of the 19th century discovered that the active ingredient was salicylic acid. Its use was tempered by the fact that the acidic nature caused stomach upset. esterification to acetyl salicylic acid reduced that effect and Aspirin was born. Use by hikers/campers must be moot, as any hiker will be carrying at least a minimal FAK (one of the "ten essentials"), which will include analgesics. Any will only cost pennies per dose and be more effective and more controlled. They can also be administered immediately without cutting up trees, brewing foul tasting infusions and persuading the injured to drink or chew them. Let's face it, there are much better OTC analgesics available to the hiker. "Vitamin I" (Ibuprofen) is the hiker's friend, is very efficacious for typical hiking injuries, and also costs only pennies per dose. No contest as far as I'm concerned.
     
  17. ThreeFires

    ThreeFires Tenderfoot

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    It's generally accepted that willow bark, as a whole herb, is more effective than aspirin, longer lasting as an analgesic, and less damaging to the body. Personally, I find it to last much longer and it really doesn't taste bad at all when chewed. Aspirin in itself is far too bitter to place in my mouth and allow to sit, plus it really doesn't work for the pain I have. But, to each his own, use what you feel comfortable with using. Nsaids, and other over the counter pain relievers kill people annually at a pretty high rate.

    There is plenty of red willow here, so no worries of taking away from the natural beauty of the environment or eliminating a species from existence. For me, pennies per dose is too expensive when I can simply walk out and get it for free. But, I get where you are coming from. I even carry Advil, aspirin, and Tylenol in my FAK for those who wouldn't want to chew on a shrub. :)

    Toddy, I thought you were asking BoonDoc, Maybe BoonDoc can clarify as an entire handful would be too much to fit in my mouth and I think would be far more than you need to take. The amount in the video I showed was more than is required, half of that would be plenty, but I was feeling exceptionally painful that day. LOL!
     
    #17 ThreeFires, Feb 11, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2012
  18. PDA1

    PDA1 Settler

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    My reading of the research is slower to act, but longer lasting. This is logical as the active ingredient, salicin, must be extracted from the bark before it can be digested, converted to salicylic acid in the bloodstream which has the analgesic effect. There would also be a problem of dosage if chewing freshly harvested bark, the salicin content will vary according to age of plant and time of year. I totally accept that using willow bark in one form or another may well be excellent, even preferred, for chronic conditions where the well documented side effects of upset stomach from Aspirin, and worse from non steroidals such as ibuprofen argue against their long term use. I don't see powdered bark as available from herbal pharmacies as a useful first aid tool as they take far too long to prepare (5 minutes simmering and 10 minutes steeping) or to become active when chewed. 2 or 3 ibuprofen almost always provides very quick relief if someone sprains, twists or breaks and ankle - the most usual hiking injury. I might also add that most of my hiking is between 2000 and 6000 feet, and I see very few willow trees or any other wetland plants:) I completely agree with you that long term continuous use of just about any of the common analgesics is not a good thing.
     
    #18 PDA1, Feb 11, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012
  19. Toddy

    Toddy Mod
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    I suspect that the use of the natural aspirins is often dependant on just what is available.
    Much of the UK is wet. We have a maritime climate, and are much warmer than our latitude would imply because of the gulf stream.

    Willow is common, even on exposed islands dwarf willow grows. So is meadowsweet (not the same as the North American one, ours is Filipendula ulmaria, I believe the American one is more usually the Spirea latifolia ? The flourish looks very different in the photos I have seen )

    The dogwoods are familiar in urban plantings and flowerbeds, and occasionally for basketry. They might be limited however because of their non native status and 'incipient weed' label.

    As a bushcraft forum most folks might well carry pharmaceutical aspirin/ibuprofen/paracetamol in their first aid kit, but we do like to know what we 'could' use, and if it might be a gentler but no less effective remedy.
    If it's not in season, or doesn't grow nearby, then to know that something else will work is no bad thing :D

    Incidentally, used topically, meadowsweet or hot willow poultice is an excellent anti inflammatory.

    cheers,
    Toddy
     
  20. Andy BB

    Andy BB Full Member

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    I think the above highlight some of the dangers of "DIY" medication. Contra-indications, lack of proven scientific testing, possibility of overdose and cross-contamination from a whole range of possible herbicides, pesticides and other industrial (and even natural) chemicals. I always worry when I see phrases like "It's generally accepted that willow bark, as a whole herb, is more effective than aspirin, longer lasting as an analgesic, and less damaging to the body". Generally accepted by whom? The medical community? IN what volumes? purity of source ingredients? active ingredient concentrations? Genuine, scientifically and statistically-valid studies to support such a claim? How big is a "handful"? Inaccurate identification of plant species?

    Apologies if this comes over as confrontational, as I don't mean to be. But just because something is "natural" doesn't necessarily equate to "safe" or "better". How many mushroom species are dangerous? Anyone had a nice infusion of deadly nightshade recently!

    Re mushrooms, one of the more amusing things I saw recently was on a chalkboard outside a cafe opposite to the boat-landing pier on the Gillie Islands in INdonesia. It read "Our magic mushrooms will f*** you up":)
     

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