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Reviews > Health & Safety > Pain Relievers > Natures Willow Balm > Test Report by joe schaffer

Nature's Willow Balm

Test Report by Joe Schaffer

INITIAL REPORT - August 18, 2020
LONG TERM REPORT - December 2, 2020

NAME: Joe Schaffer
EMAIL: never2muchstuff(at)yahoo(dot)com
AGE: 72
HOME: Bay Area, California USA

     I enjoy California's central Sierras, camping every month with a goal to match my age in nights out each year. For comfort I lug tent, mattress, chair and such. Typical summer trips run 5-8 days; 40 lb (18 kg), about half food and water related; about 5 miles (8 km) per hiking day in the bright and sunny granite in and around Yosemite. I winter base camp most often at 6,000 to 7,000 ft (1,800 to 2,000 m); 2 to 3 nights; 50 lb (23 kg); a mile or so (1.6 km) on snowshoes.

Products: Willow Balm and Bug Bite Balm

Manufacturer: WB Ventures, LLC.

Features and claims slightly edited from website:    
    Helichrysum is a natural essential oil that has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and also aids bruising and pain relief. It's an antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory. The ability of helichrysum to lower blood pressure helps improve the condition of blood vessels by lowering inflammation, which can lead to smoother muscle function.

    White willow bark is a natural pain reliever that works much like aspirin. White Willow bark contains the salicin, which has anti-inflammatory effects. Salicin is the active ingredient in Willow balm. When the body converts salicin into a salicylic acid, the result is pain relief similar to aspirin.

Warranty: unknown

Country of origin: USA

MSRP:  US $10 for 3.5 fl oz (104 ml) Willow Balm
             US $6 for 0.5 fl oz (15 ml) Bug Bite Balm

My Specs:
gross weight
        Willow Balm 4 1/8 oz (118 g)
        Bug Bite Balm 5/8 oz (19 g)
        Packet: 1/4 oz (6 g)

Received:   August 7, 2020

My Description:
    Both product packages indicate an active ingredient of 3% menthol as a counterirritant. The website indicates an active ingredient of salicin for the Willow Balm; and helichrysum for the bite balm. Both balms have a long list of other ingredients looking (to the untrained eye) much the same for each. Neither product is to be used more than 3-4 times a day, though no indication appears in directions regarding application amount. These potions appear to be substantially based on a multitude of natural ingredients, which I interpret to mean from things that were recently living and not a commingling from a chemist's shelf.

    Included with the four packages of balm was a cloth logo patch. Nice patch, but I don't sew stuff on my clothes; an adhesive label I'd be happy to stick on my bear can.

The bite balm comes in a small enough tube to carry. The pain balm tube is a little heavy to suit me, though the relationship between its effectiveness and the degree to which the old bag of bones is acting up would serve as the deciding algorithm in whether it displaces an apple sauce cup in the kit. The tiny packets make lots of sense for backpacking, but I don't find them on the website.

    My first impression on the website was that it could use a little tuning up. Some of the tabs unexpectedly lead to the same page. As a bone-headed consumer, the subjective evaluation of effectiveness and any placebo benefit could be influenced by presentation.

    The packaging does seem appropriate, though, causing me to believe the product was not mixed in a wash tub behind the rabbit hutch. I generally don't trust anything other than Lagavulin to quiet the noise from angry muscles, joints and festering bites; but I'm eager to give these less toxic brews a shot.

Field Conditions:

I managed five backpack trips toting the potions for a total of 27 days and 87 mi (140 km). No bug load to speak of. No strains or sprains.

At home, in between backpack trips, I applied a total of an ounce (29 g) of the unguent to a nagging latissimus dorsi muscle. 


    Sampling Willow Balm at home I found it soothing. Initially it feels cool, and then after a few minutes it begins to feel hot. (It brings back memories of ma applying a eucalyptus ointment to any complaint of illness, most often on the tongue; whereby I would find immediate improvement sufficient to get out of bed and catch the bus to school.) I smeared it over a saucer-size area of the back. I should concede the point that I don't like putting stuff on my skin, and that preference did not change. However, the relief the product provides makes my initial resistance short-lived. Shrugging off the aforementioned memory I like how it feels after a few minutes and the muscle discomfort seems to diminish. The odor is not necessarily particularly pleasing, nor do I find it in any way unpleasant. It is strong, but not obnoxious. In a much less concentrated form the smell is certainly familiar in areas where I live, home to stands of eucalyptus.

    I didn't carry the tube of Willow Balm as it is too heavy. From using it at home it appears the tube contains a very large number of applications. Applying Willow Balm liberally to that whining muscle perhaps a dozen times I still used less than a third of the contents. I applied it under an assortment of tee shirts and none took up any coloration or retained any odor after washing.
While I had the two little pain packets with me, nothing ever hurt enough to deploy them as I don't like strong odors in my tent. At home I don't care about getting odors on my clothes and body, but out in the woods I'm going to have to hurt more.

    As regards the bite balm, I managed to avoid any personal experience. However, my partner suffered an insect bite that was probably of acrachnid origin. On the first morning of it she endured the discomfort of a half-dozen red and swollen bites, declining the offer of the ointment. By evening she was more amenable and I basted her leg like a turkey breast. The logic applied was that any predator drawn to it would not likely discriminate by volume. I slathered the cream on to give the best chance of a definite result. In the morning she was still uncomfortable and uncertain whether more or less following treatment. Perhaps I should have held closer to a tester protocol and treated half the bites and left half untreated, but it was clear she needed relief and a test result seemed less important than possible abatement. There were enough bites on her leg I also doubt she could have discerned the difference between which ones might have felt better and which ones not. The discomfort prevailed for several days. On one of the days she asked for a second treatment.

Quick shots:
a) Natural ingredients
    b) Creams both seem helpful
    b) Willow balm tube too large for backpacking

Thank you Nature's Willow and for the opportunity to test this product. This concludes test reporting.

Read more reviews of WB Ventures, LLC gear
Read more gear reviews by joe schaffer

Reviews > Health & Safety > Pain Relievers > Natures Willow Balm > Test Report by joe schaffer

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