All of this makes willow bark a wonderful natural pain medicine. It is safe and effective for arthritis, back pain, and likely many other types of pain! I would begin with enough to get 240 mg of Salicin a day until maximum benefit is seen (~ 6 weeks), as the benefit is dose related in severe pain. At that point, you may often be able to lower the dose to 120 mg or less a day or take it as needed.
Boswellia Serrata, also known as Frankincense, has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Boswellia has been found to be quite helpful in treating inflammation and pain and it also does this without causing ulcers like aspirin family medications. It has been shown in studies to be helpful for both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
In the latter study, 30 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee were given 1000 mg of an extract of Boswellia or placebo for eight weeks and then the groups were switched for the next eight weeks. All of the patients on the Boswellia showed significantly decreased pain and improved ability to walk. In fact, the improvement was quite remarkable with the pain index falling by 90% after eight weeks with a similarly dramatic increase in function. This was recently discussed at more length in the wonderful patient oriented newsletter "Nutrition and Healing" by Jonathan Wright M.D. -- a physician that I have great respect for (see www.wrightnewsletter.com). The article was written by Kerry Bone.
Boswellia has also been demonstrated to have significant anti-inflammatory properties, inhibiting leukotriene synthesis by inhibiting 5-lipooxygenase activity. It also decreases the activity of human leukocyte elastase (HLE). Blocking 2 inflammatory chemicals that are increased simultaneously in a variety of human diseases is unique to Boswellia. This results in its being helpful in asthma and colitis as well as pain. In one study of asthmatics, 40 patients were treated with 300 mg 3 times day for 6 weeks. 70% of the asthma patients showed improvement in symptoms and lung function and a decrease in allergic blood cells (eosinophils). Boswellia also helped in the treatment of ulcerative colitis. In one study giving Boswellia 300 mg 3 x day for 6 weeks, out of 20 patients treated with Boswellia gum resin 14 went into remission, while with sulfasalazine(the standard prescription treatment), the remission rate was 4 out of 10. Test tube studies suggest that Boswellia also markedly inhibits cancer.
It does not appear to have any major side effects that resulted in people withdrawing from the studies but rarely cause minor gastrointestinal disturbances or rash. A common dose is 150-350 mg 3 times a day.
Cherry Fruit (Prunus cerasus)-- Although there are not as many human studies on the use of tart cherries, they also contain compounds which inhibit COX-1(inflammation) as effectively as ibuprofen, and tart cherries possess both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, research suggests that it may also inhibit Colon and perhaps other cancers. Cherries and other colored berries are very high in many antioxidants. As with eating cherries, taking cherry fruit is quite safe. Many people are finding that simply eating 10 – 20 cherries a day has been helping their arthritis considerably. 2000 mg of cherry fruit extract (present in 6 capsules of the Pain Formula) contains the active components present in 10 cherries or 32 oz of cherry juice. Early research, as well as how many people come back for more after they have tried it (which to me is a significant indicator of effectiveness) suggests that cherry fruit holds a lot of promise!