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Taking Tylenol Even at a Recommended Dose Can Harm Your Liver

July 20, 2006 | 18,742 views
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Regular doses of Tylenol, the widely used painkiller that contains acetaminophen as the active ingredient, may be enough to cause liver damage, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study involved 106 participants, some of whom took four grams of Tylenol (or eight extra-strength Tylenol tablets) every day for two weeks. One group took Tylenol alone, another group took Tylenol with an opioid painkiller and a third group took placebo pills.

Up to 40 percent of the people taking Tylenol, alone or with the other painkiller, had abnormal test results that signaled liver damage. No such results occurred among the placebo group.

The researchers recommended that people take no more than four grams of Tylenol a day, and no more than two grams daily for heavy drinkers.

Because acetaminophen is widely used in over-the-counter and prescription drugs, overdoses are common as people unknowingly combine medications. Overdoses of acetaminophen are the leading cause of acute liver failure.


 

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Nearly one out of three Americans takes acetaminophen. The most popular form of it is Tylenol, and it is a part of hundreds of pain relievers and pain remedies.

You may not realize that the maker of Tylenol is Johnson and Johnson. They are the same company that owns McNeil Nutritionals, which is the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:country-region w:st="on">U.S.</st1:country-region> distributor of Splenda.

Although acetaminophen is considered an over-the-counter medication, this does not necessarily mean it is safe or void of side effects. According to an FDA panel three years ago, 15,000 people end up in the emergency room every year because of acetaminophen poisoning.

You might be surprised to know that the most common cause of acute liver failure in the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:country-region w:st="on">United States</st1:country-region> is from taking Tylenol (acetaminophen). Typically this is related to those taking overdoses in suicide attempts. But, as this study shows, acetaminophen can also harm you at regular doses.

Experts believe acetaminophen causes its damage by depleting your body of glutathione. If you keep your glutathione levels up, the damage from acetaminophen may be largely preventable.

Even conventional medicine recognizes this, as anyone who overdoses on it receives large doses of N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) in the emergency room. NAC is a precursor of glutathione and helps restore this necessary and important bionutrient when Tylenol suppresses it. So if for whatever reason you find yourself taking acetaminophen regularly, please take a trip down to the health food store and get yourself some NAC.

Pain is an important "clue" that your body provides you and it is typically seeking to warn you to correct the underlying disorder. So the best and foremost action you can take is to seek to identify the cause of your pain.

If you are unable to address the cause immediately, such as an accident, then you will certainly want to consider using the amazing tool of EFT. I previously ran a story of how you can use it for burns and muscle injuries, but you could use it for just about any type of pain.

Just last month I had a contractor in my home who had inured his fingers with a power saw a few weeks earlier, and he could not work properly because of it. So I took him aside and tapped with him. In literally a few minutes the pain had virtually disappeared and he had complete normal function of his hand.

It turns out the pain was related to him not forgiving himself for being "so stupid" and allowing himself to develop the injury in the first place. Once we got that out of the way the pain was gone; surely a much better option than Tylenol or Tylenol with codeine.

Tylenol is effective for discomfort due to inflammatory and non-inflammatory pain. If you want to treat any inflammatory pain without harming your health, you'll want to review my recent piece on seven safe and effective treatments, none of which have anything to do with a drug but are useful for inflammatory-type pain.

Ginger: This herb is anti-inflammatory and offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties. Fresh ginger works well steeped in boiling water as a tea or grated into vegetable juice.

Boswellia: This herb contains specific active anti-inflammatory ingredients, referred to as boswellic acids that animal studies have shown significantly reduce inflammation. This is one of my personal favorites as I have seen it work well with many of my rheumatoid arthritis patients

Fish Oils: The omega-3 fats EPA and DHA found in fish oil have been found, by many animal and clinical studies, to have anti-inflammatory properties that reduce joint inflammation and promote joint lubrication.

Those of you who read the newsletter regularly know that I'm a fan of krill oilas I have seen clear and often substantial improvements in my patients who use it. It has shown particularly positive benefits in those with rheumatoid arthritis.

Bromelain: This enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory. It can be taken in supplement form, but eating fresh pineapple may also be helpful.

Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO): This oil, found in fish and dairy butter, acts as a "joint lubricant" and an anti-inflammatory.

Evening Primrose, Black Currant and Borage Oils: These contain the essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is useful for treating arthritic pain. I personally prefer the use of GLA supplements from evening primrose oil, but borage oil contains a higher concentration of GLA, which means you need fewer capsules, and it tends to be less expensive.

<st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Cayenne Cream: Also called capsaicin cream, this spice comes from dried hot peppers. It alleviates pain by depleting the body's supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmits pain signals to the brain.

 

 


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