Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Unfortunate Truth About Aspirin

Aspirin, you know what it does and you probably take it yourself.
Unfortunately aspirin has a bit of a dark side to it and may not be as safe as we'd like to think.

The History of Willow Bark and Aspirin

Aspirin has a bit of a dark side lodged in its history, in the mid 1700's the active ingredient of Willow Bark was first discovered, this compound was named Salicin.

We know today that the compound Salicin found in willow bark works like aspirin but is metabolically quite different. The compound Salicin is synthesized into salicylic acid by the body after it has bypassed the stomach and is then converted into aspirin, unlike aspirin however which harms the stomach lining and can cause ulceration and internal bleeding.

The problem was that extracting Salicin was not feasible at the time and people needed more willow than was available.

They could produce Salicin in the laboratory if they tried but they would not be able to patent it that way since it is a naturally occurring compound and very quickly any drug company would be able to make their own painkillers making for a very competitive market.

Unfortunately for the world, this did not happen, in fact what actually happened is that in 1897 (over 100 years later) salicylic acid was first isolated and was found to have analgesic effects but unfortunately had negative effects on the digestive system.

Shortly after that, an even easier to synthesize compound which we now know as Aspirin (Acetylsalicylic Acid) was created and patented by Bayer and the rest is history, Willow is almost all but forgotten today.

So which is safer? Willow Bark or Aspirin?

Willow bark, unlike Aspirin does not cause digestive problems or internal bleeding and provides the same pain relief as Aspirin. However, willow bark is almost 3x the price.

Why haven't I heard of Willow Bark before?

Although herbal remedies are making a comeback, with all the quack remedies out there for pain like MSM and the like.

In addition, we have yet to learn much of the knowledge that was lost to history such as dosages and preparations. Willow bark is simply not something that a drug company can make a lot of money out of and as such, it is not marketed very much.

I hope you found this post interesting, if you did please leave a comment and share with all your friends.

Peace Out :)

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