A systematic review on the effectiveness of willow bark for musculoskeletal pain

Vlachojannis, J. E. and Cameron, M. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5788-8790 and Chrubasik, S. (2009) A systematic review on the effectiveness of willow bark for musculoskeletal pain. Phytotherapy Research, 23 (7). pp. 897-900. ISSN 0951-418X


Since ancient times preparations from Salix species have been used to alleviate pain. The aim of this study was to update the evidence of the effectiveness of willow bark products in the treatment of musculoskeletal pain. OVID(MEDLINE), PUBMED, Silverplatter, and CENTRAL and manual searches were used to identify clinical trials investigating Salix preparations. Authors SC and JEV extracted the data independently and discussed disagreements.

Seven manuscripts were identified, reporting four trials with confirmatory and four with exploratory study designs. Three manuscripts presented the same trial data: repetitious reports were excluded. One confirmatory and two exploratory studies indicate a dose‐dependent analgesic effect not inferior to rofecoxib in patients with low back pain. In one exploratory and one confirmatory study conflicting results were achieved in participants with osteoarthritis. No significant effect was seen in a confirmatory study in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, but this study was grossly underpowered. All studies investigated ethanolic extracts with daily doses up to 240 mg salicin over periods of up to six weeks. Minor adverse events occurred during treatment.

The review provides moderate evidence of effectiveness for the use of ethanolic willow bark extract in low back pain. Further studies are required to find out if treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis requires extract with higher doses than 240 mg salicin per day.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 02 Feb 2021 03:56
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2021 03:56
Uncontrolled Keywords: willow bark; Salix; salicin; low back pain; osteoarthritis; effectiveness
Fields of Research (2008): 11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1104 Complementary and Alternative Medicine > 110499 Complementary and Alternative Medicine not elsewhere classified
11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1103 Clinical Sciences > 110322 Rheumatology and Arthritis
Fields of Research (2020): 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4208 Traditional, complementary and integrative medicine > 420899 Traditional, complementary and integrative medicine not elsewhere classified
32 BIOMEDICAL AND CLINICAL SCIENCES > 3202 Clinical sciences > 320218 Pain
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 92 Health > 9201 Clinical Health (Organs, Diseases and Abnormal Conditions) > 920199 Clinical Health (Organs, Diseases and Abnormal Conditions) not elsewhere classified
C Society > 92 Health > 9299 Other Health > 929999 Health not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 20 HEALTH > 2001 Clinical health > 200105 Treatment of human diseases and conditions
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.2747
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/38791

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