The main question here is: Why would anyone grind up willow bark for pain relief instead of simply taking a couple of aspirin or Tylenol?
As it happens, there are those who believe that chemicals don’t belong in the human body. These hardcore individuals rely on nothing but plants and herbs for their medical needs. By and large, the bulk of the population that is interested in herbal healing is not as overzealous, but make a lifestyle of ingesting plants, herbs and roots that have been proven beneficial. Finally, there are those who only want the knowledge of how to heal with herbs if and when the time comes. So, for all of the above mentioned groups, here is the scoop on aspirin and pain relieving plants.
As it has been passed down through the generations, I’m sure some of you have heard that Aspirin comes from the bark of the willow tree. Well, not exactly.
Years ago, before chemical medicines were invented, the bark of the willow tree was widely known as a pain reliever even as early as the 5th century. Salicin or salicylic acid is a substance that chemically resembles aspirin. Today’s aspirin is made from chemical that are based upon salicin.
Spiraea is another plant that contains derivatives of salicin. Different from the willow in that the concentrations of salicylic acid are more consistently distributed, it gained recognition and consequently grew to be more widely used. Spiraea is a shrub that’s part of the Rosaceae family. This shrub is considered a weed and grows abundantly all over the world. Quick identification of the this plant, could prove invaluable.
Lastly, Meadowsweet is another shrub in the Rosacaea family that is known to be easier on the stomach than other salicin plants. In 1897, Felix Hoffmann created a synthetically altered version of salicin, derived from this species, which caused less digestive upset than pure salicylic acid. The new drug, named acetylsalicylic acid, was the true origin for aspirin as we know it today.