When it comes to pain, chances are you, like everyone else, are looking for a quick fix. Something to make that irritating headache or awful backache disappear for a few short hours before it resurfaces again only to send you slumping toward your bed. While the majority of the world turns to Aspirin or Ibuprofen for this relief, you may be pleasantly surprised to hear that there is a natural alternative that, although may take slightly longer to work, doesn’t pose the risk of upsetting your stomach. This alternative I speak of is, of course, willow bark!
Before modern medicines were around, when anyone had a fever or inflammatory issues they were advised to chew on willow bark. It was noted to be especially useful against backaches and osteoarthritis, but was documented for use for other inflammatory issues and headaches as well. The secret behind this marvelous gift that the willow bestows upon mankind? The bark contains salicin, a very similar chemical to that found in Aspirin. In fact, the compound found in willow bark is actually what was used to create the Aspirin you use today! Salicin is metabolized into salicylic acid in the gut, which is why it may take slightly longer than Aspirin for you to notice any relief. Salicin alone does not produce the pain-relieving effects that the bark is touted for, however. Scientific testing has proven that the overall combination of polyphenols, flavonoids, and salicin found in the bark is what contributes to the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects.
Although the plant compounds move more slowly in the body than say, the 20 minute fast acting relief of the conventional alternatives, it is said to last longer AND leave you with fewer side effects. As for the passionflower? This enchanting flower is a mild nervine! This means that it has a relaxing and calming effect on the body which can be beneficial in times of pain or tension headaches due to stress or anxiety. Since the flower components are working alone instead of in combination with other relaxing herbs, its effects are mild and just enough to give you the calming action that your body needs.
1/4 cup passionflower
1/3 cup willow bark or young willow twigs (Salix alba is usually the species used)
80 proof brandy or 80 – 100 proof vodka (alcohol is what brings out the medicinal properties in the herbs)
Pint glass jar
Glass tincture dropper bottles
Fill the jar with the finely chopped willow bark or tiny willow bark twigs. Add in the passionflower. Both of these can either be fresh or dried, but fresh is usually preferred. Top the jar off with your brandy or vodka, leaving a little room at the top for the herbs to expand. Put the cap on and gently invert back and forth to mix.
Set mixture aside in a warm, sunny window for 4 – 6 weeks, gently mixing daily.
Once done steeping, strain out the herbs with cheesecloth and pour your tincture into your tincture dropper bottles.
For help with pain relief, take about a dropper full of the tincture (30 – 40 drops) mixed in a couple ounces of water up to about 4 times daily or only as needed.
Warnings and contraindications:
As with Aspirin, this tincture should not be given to children and should not be consumed while pregnant unless directed to do so by a healthcare professional. The active components in the tincture may interact with medications that are used for sedative purposes. It should not be used with other blood thinners as it can increase bleeding and blood clotting time. It should also not be used in combination with beta-blockers and other anti-inflammatory medications as it can make them less effective.