Yesterday, while browsing on Facebook, I stumbled upon an article talking about the possible link between acetaminophen use during pregnancy, and behavioral problems in children. The numbers of children and families affected by behavioral disorders are shocking. A whopping 6.4 million American children between 4-17 have been diagnosed with ADHD, one of the most common disorders.
Studies like this really make me think.
“Oh no, there’s really no harm that could come of taking some Tylenol when you have a headache” my OB told me, at 8 weeks pregnant. Of course, she wasn’t intentionally trying to cause some random behavioral disorder in the tiny blob growing in my tummy, but how much do we really know about the pill we’re swallowing down? My family and I definitely like to take a more natural approach to most things, so we haven’t had Tylenol in our house for quite some time. But, the article I read on Facebook really made me want to start digging into the facts of one of the most over-used OTC pain-relievers, and share it with you.
Most people recognize acetaminophen, or for my UK readers paracetamol, under the brand name, Tylenol. However, this drug is found in numerous medications, both over-the-counter and prescription, and may be one of the most dangerous ones so readily available to you. In fact, it is the number one reason people call the Poison Control Center with over 100,000 calls per year. This harmless drug sends 56,000 people to the ER and accounts for nearly half of all acute liver failure in the US.
In 2014, the FDA issued a safety alert statement, recommending that health care professionals stop giving prescriptions with more than 325 mg of acetaminophen because taking more than 325 mg per dose of acetaminophen may not “provide additional benefit that outweighs the added risks for liver injury.” Knowing this information now really makes me rethink all that extra strength Tylenol I’ve popped in my lifetime. With each pill at 500 mg, and the dosing at 2 pills every 6 hours, who knows what I’ve done to my liver.
Your liver is not the only thing affected by acetaminophen. Acetaminophen use, and accidental overuse, can wreak havoc on your skin-the largest organ you have. Acetaminophen has been linked to two, potentially fatal skin conditions: Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN). These conditions cause severe blistering of the skin, and require hospitalization. To me, the scary thing is knowing how easy it is to take too much.
Another thing I find interesting is how quickly Tylenol is recommended on teething infants. This is so strange to me, because in 2011 the FDA recommended that all infants’ Tylenol remove their analgesic (pain-relief) claim, because there is no evidence that it relieves pain in children between 6 months and 2 years of age.
As if all that evidence wasn’t enough, the science behind glutathione and acetaminophen’s impact on our body’s production of it was enough to make me toss all the acetaminophen products our house had. Glutathione is considered the mother of all antioxidants. It has been praised as protecting the body from chronic illness. Glutathione detoxifies your body, recycles antioxidants, and is vital to the immune system. It protects against aging, cancer, and disorders like dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and autism. The only problem? With every dose, acetaminophen significantly decreases these levels in the body. Imagine what this is doing to you.
There are alternatives.
One of the most common reasons for Tylenol use is headaches. Headaches are also a tell-tale sign that your body is low in magnesium. Honestly, most Americans should be on a magnesium supplement anyway, as studies have shown that nearly half are severely deficient in it. A daily magnesium supplement is all I needed to stop my migraines during pregnancy. Coincidentally, adding a supplement to big A’s routine actually stopped his brutal Charley Horses at night.
When taking Tylenol for aches and pains, it is very likely that there is inflammation in the affected area. Ginger has actually been proven to rival drugs like Ibuprofen and Motrin for its anti-inflammatory capabilities.
In our house, our favorite pain reliever is turmeric. Because of its active ingredient, curcumin, turmeric is an incredible pain reliever. Because of a car accident a couple of years ago, big A has a bit of back pain, and turmeric has made a world of difference in his life. He takes a daily supplement, as well as taking some if he notices any pain. I also cook with turmeric almost every day.
It’s scary to me how little we really know about these medications that are so common and so easy to get. I just hope that as we know better, we do better.
Until next time,
Author: Savannah Baker
Savannah is a full-time mom of one, and can often be found outside on one of her various adventures. She enjoys carving her own path through natural and holistic living, as well as discovering ways to use food as medicine.