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Reviews > Health & Safety > Pain Relievers > Natures Willow Balm > Test Report by Mike Lipay

Nature's Willow Pain Relief Balm

Reviewer Information
Height:5' 6" (1.6 meters)
Weight:159 lb (72.1 kg)
Home:Southwest Pennsylvania, USA
Background:I’ve been hiking since ’65 with occasional backpacking trips (backpacking became a love affair in the early 80’s). My first sleeping bag weighed in at 8 lb (3.6 kg) by itself! These days my loaded pack only weighs about 15 lb (6.8 kg) sans food. While most of my adventures are in the Northeast I’ve also been spending a good deal of time in the desert Southwest and most places in-between. My trips tend be in the cooler months - September through May - as I’m not much of a hot-weather person.

Initial Report - Aug. 16, 2020

Nature's Willow Pain Relief Cream is an all-natural product meant to provide temporary relief of arthritis, back pain, sore muscles, and joints. It is a combination of botanicals and non-botanicals (complete list below). The label says that it is a patented blend of white willow bark and helichrysum.

Product Information
Manufacturer: Nature's Willow LLC

Size: 3.5 Fluid Ounces (103.5 ml) (not verified).
Active: 3% Menthol
Botanical: Camphor, eucalyptus oil, geranium oil, helichrysum gymnocephalum oil, lavender oil, spearmint oil, white willow bark.
Other: Almond oil, caprylyl glycol, cetearyl alcohol, cetereth, cetyl alcohol, glycol monostearate, isopropyl palmitate, jojoba seed oil, mineral oil, phenoxy ethanol, propylene glycol, stearic acid, stearyl alcohol, water.
MSRP: $10 US

Initial Impressions

The tube comes with a brown cap that must first be removed. Underneath, on the tube, is a protective foil that also must be removed by pulling on a small foil tab. Finally, replace the cap to use the product.
I was somewhat surprised when I first read the back of the tube which says, “A blend of white willow bark and helichrysum, our patented formula makes short work of pain.” Then I read the extensive list of ingredients to find that willow bark is at the end of the list of botanical ingredients.

I was equally surprised to find that the only ingredient listed as an “active” ingredient is 3% menthol. I expected that the two touted ingredients would be listed as active not inactive ingredients. According to the Food and Drug Administration, “Inactive ingredients are components of a drug product that do not increase or affect the therapeutic action of the active ingredient, which is usually the active drug.”

The presence of camphor is quite apparent upon opening the tube and taking a whiff, it clearly stands out from the blend of other fragrant oils (mint, lavender, eucalyptus), something to keep in mind when considering Willow Balm.


The product came in two forms: a 3.5 oz (103.5 ml) tube (pictured above) and two single use packets of 0.14 oz (4 ml) amount (pictured to the right). I could not find the single use packets on the website, so I assume this is a promotional format. I find this disappointing as the FAA guidelines for liquids is limited to 3.4 oz (100 ml) so if I encounter a picky security agent the tube could be confiscated. To open a packet the top is bent back then torn off, making the packet truly a one-time use since there is no way to seal it back up.

First Use

My first use was a good one, just finished a 16-miler (25.8 km). By the time I got back to the base camp my shoulder, calves, and thighs were killing me (plus I has two hot spots on both feet). I had the tube with me, not the packets, so I didn’t have to be concerned about how much I would have to use. I decided to give the Willow Balm a good test, I applied it to one side of my body and left the other side untreated - the results were mixed. After an hour my thigh felt much better, as did my calves, the hot spots had “cooled down”, but I can’t really say if it was the cream or just time as the other foot felt better as well, finally the shoulder (from carrying the pack) didn’t seem much better at all (maybe a little, but not enough to make a difference). After three hours the pain in the thighs and calves were gone, hot spots all felt good, but the shoulder still hurt, I took two pain pills and went to bed for the night.

Date Location Trail Distance Hiked Altitude Weather
Aug 6-7, 2020 Black Moshannon State Park, Pennsylvania Bog, Moss-Hanne, Allegheny Front, Indian, and Hay Road Trails. 16 mi (25.7 km) 1,866-1,952 ft (569-595 km) Sunny, 77-85F (25-29 C), 68-62% Relative Humidity
Observations: After the hike I had several sore muscles, an hour after applying the cream results were mixed with some muscles feeling much better while others experienced no change.

Willow Balm Pain Cream shows promise, but it’s too early to make a definitive statement, continued testing is required. The one thing I will note is that the smell is strong, with the camphor overpowering the various other essential oils.

Long Term Report - Sept 20, 2020

Date Location Trail Distance Hiked Altitude Weather
August 20, 2020 Kinzua State Park, Pa Kinzua Bridge Trail 4.4 miles (7 km) 1,790-2,106 ft (546-642 m) Sunny, temps ranged from 68-78F (20-26C)
Observations: While the elevation change doesn't seem all that much (316 ft, 96 m) it was a very steep climb on loose scree, plus the tricky descent. My thigh and calf muscles were sore at the end of the trip. I applied the balm to my right leg, within 20 minutes I was applying it to my left leg as well, I felt that much better.
Sept 2, 2020 Ohiopyle State Park, Pa Whitewater Rafting 7.6 miles (12.2 km) N/A Hot, sunny, temps 78-84F (26-29C)
Observations: Whitewater rafting works the arm and shoulder muscles more than any other activity I participate in, and after 7 hours of paddling I was sore. This time I didn't put the balm on just one arm, I went whole-hog and put it everywhere that hurt. By the time our bus ride back to the outfitters was done I was feeling normal again, while others in our group were still complaining about hurting. This is one of the few times that even my shoulders felt good, as this was pain from use not from straps sitting on them.

I’ve used the Willow Balm pain relief cream for daily use as well as the activities above. At 60+ muscles tend to get sore easily, especially back and shoulder. I’ve been using the Willow Balm regularly in place of my usual pills as a first go-to for pain relief, I’ve now exhausted the tube. What I have found is that the amount of relief depends, for me, on the type of pain. I find it far more effective on back, arm, and leg pain where the pain comes from the strain of using the muscles. I find it far less effective on shoulder pain, where the pain comes from my backpack straps.

I was pleased with the quickness that relief comes, when it comes. After applying the Willow Balm to my back, legs, and arms the pain starts to disappear within minutes, by 15-30 minutes the pain is usually gone, or very close to it. As stated above, it’s not as effective on the shoulder pain, after an hour I usually give up and go for the meds.

    Things I like:
  • Easy to apply.
  • Fast acting - usually within 15-20 minutes.
  • Relieves most of the pains I encounter on hiking/backpacking/kayaking and everyday life are well.
  • While the smell is strong, it disappears quickly, usually within 15 minutes.
  • Locally available. I’ve been able to find Willow Balm at local stores, so when I run low/out I have a chance of picking it up where I’m hiking, instead of having to carry excess amounts.
  • I would still like to see the amount of camphor reduced, as the smell is one of the major turn-offs from this product. Since it is not listed as an active ingredient I do think a lesser amount should be possible.


This ends my Long Term Report, I’d like to thank Nature's Willow Balm and for the opportunity to test Willow Balm Pain Relief Cream.

Read more reviews of WB Ventures, LLC gear
Read more gear reviews by Mike Lipay

Reviews > Health & Safety > Pain Relievers > Natures Willow Balm > Test Report by Mike Lipay

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