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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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,
Savannah

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.

  • Brittany

    This is an interesting read. I was having eye twitching and muscle cramps a few months back and upon research felt I was deficient in magnesium. So I started taking a supplement and it helped. I was no longer having the issues. But my husband and I both have headaches regulery and I didn’t realize magnesium could be the cause of that also. Maybe I should start taking the supplements again.

  • mylittlerobins

    This is an interesting link. I honestly believe that screen time is the biggest factor in ADHD. For every hour of screen time a child has per day, his or her chances of being diagnosed with ADHD increase 10%. So, a child who is in front of a screen for 10 hours a day (at school and at home, it’s possible!) has a 100% chance of this diagnosis!

  • Wow! I had no idea about this! A very very interesting read! I am going to have a read about Cucumin as well now. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing this!

    #KCACOLS

  • Really interesting post. And I think it's good to question the safety of over-the-counter remedies whilst appreciating their contribution to health. #KCACOLS

  • Very interesting read. Thanks for sharing on #KCACOLS Hope you'll link up again next Sunday.

    Nadia – ScandiMummy x

  • Wow what a really interesting read I never knew the alternatives you could take that are every day household staples like Turmeric and Ginger!

    Thank you for linking up to #KCACOLS and I hope to see you back again next week x

  • Interesting post. I do believe paracetamol is a safe and effective drug when taken appropriately. However it's always a good thing to be mindful about what medications we are taking and in what dosage. #KCACOLS

  • A really informative post. I hate to take any tablets of any kind and try to keep away. xx
    #KCACOLS

  • Oh, I need to get me some turmeric

  • Yay! I'm so glad(: I was so wowed by the things I was finding out as I was researching for this post. Definitely scary! Thanks for reading <3

  • We've really been getting into lots of homeopathic stuff since I first found Hyland's for their teething tablets. I love it! There are so many natural ways to approach things that we like to try first as well (:

  • Thank you for reading!! <3

  • Thanks for reading!

  • Yes!!! For so long, they've been viewed as so common, as if there is no harm in a common drug. Thank you tons for reading <3

  • wow I learned so much reading this post!! Very interesting

  • I always try using natural homeopathic remedies as much as we can at least

  • Very interesting perspective! Thank you for the information.

  • Great article. I remember the doctors giving all of us Tylenol while pregnant and telling us that it was the safest option. Thanks for the reminder to be aware of the generic and out of country names.

  • Thanks for the reminder. It's easy to overlook things like this, since the media tends to brush it off and ignore it, and we've been told for years how safe these drugs are.