Pregnancy Use

It is generally not advised to recommend salicylate-containing medicines during pregnancy or lactation, although no restrictions are known for willowbark directly.

PRACTICE POINTS/PATIENT COUNSELLING

• Evidence from several RCTs suggests that willowbark is an effective treatment for relieving pain in chronic backache and osteoarthritis.

• The results of one clinical study suggest it is as effective as 12.5 mg of the synthetic COX-2 inhibitor rofecoxib when used at a daily dose of 240 mg salicin.

• People using willowbark may find they have lowered requirements for traditional anti-inflammatory medicines such as NSAIDs.

• Currently, there is no evidence to suggest gastrointestinal side effects or significant platelet inhibition.

• Due to its salicylate content, people with salicylate sensitivity should avoid use of willowbark.

ANSWERS TO PATIENTS' FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What will this herb do for me?

Scientific studies have found that willowbark is a useful treatment for relieving pain in osteoarthritis and chronic backache. It may also relieve symptoms of headache and fever.

When will it start to work?

Studies using willowbark preparations in diseases characterised by joint pain have found that effects start within 1 week's use. Are there any safety issues?

Willowbark appears to be free of major side effects or drug interactions, but it should not be taken by people with salicylate sensitivity.

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