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Willow bark trials for osteoarthritis

Two RCTs were found examining the effectiveness of willow bark in treating hip and knee osteoarthritis. Willow bark was well-tolerated by participants who received it in both RCTs. Lack of effectiveness was the most common reason for withdrawal.

Trial 1

In the first trial, 127 participants were randomised to receive willow bark (240 mg of salicin), 100 mg diclofenac (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) or a placebo once a day for six weeks.

  • Participants who were on diclofenac had the best levels of pain relief.
  • Those assigned willow bark didn’t significantly differ from the placebo group.

Trial 2

In the second trial, 78 participants were randomly assigned to either willow bark (240 mg of salicin) or placebo tablets once a day for two weeks. Participants taking willow bark achieved a 14% reduction in pain, compared to only 2% in the placebo group.


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