Until recently, acetaminophen (also known as APAP) was considered to be a fairly harmless painkiller. After all, it’s found in commonly used over-the-counter drugs like Tylenol, as well as stronger prescription medications like Vicodin and Oxycodone. Acetaminophen has been sold in modest quantities all across the world, and has been used to treat everything from mild headaches to more severe forms of pain. But is it really a good idea to ingest this drug?
In 2011 an FDA advisory panel asked drug manufacturers to consider lowering the suggested dose and maximum daily dose of acetaminophen. This request was followed by a recommendation by an FDA advisory panel in 2009, made up of 37 expert doctors, to implement a total ban of certain acetaminophen-containing prescription drugs such as Vicodin.
After much debate, the FDA then announced in January 2012 that they would be requiring drug manufacturers to limit the strength of acetaminophen to no more than 325 milligrams (mg) in each acetaminophen-containing tablet or capsule. In addition, these drugs must include warnings on the labels about the potential risk of severe liver injury.
What fueled this change? As it turns out, acetaminophen overdose is one of the leading contributors to liver failure. If you think you’re absolutely safe ingesting an acetaminophen pill, think again. Many patients who use acetaminophen inadvertently overdose on the drug. Acetaminophen is one of those drugs that requires an ever-increasing dosage to achieve the same effect. When it’s available over-the-counter, this makes it easy for people to add more of the drug to their bodies, and to exceed the recommended dosage.
So, by taking the drug, you might succeed at killing your headache for awhile, but you might also unintentionally harm your liver while you’re at it.
We’re glad the FDA is taking action to address such a dangerous problem; however, there’s still an ugly fact we must deal with: many people still rely on unnatural drugs to treat symptoms of an illness, rather than embracing a more natural method – one that truly addresses the root of the problem. Regardless of whether or not the FDA’s new regulation results in fewer instances of acetaminophen overdose, the fact that people are still taking it at all may be cause for concern.
For many aches and pains, there’s usually a more natural solution that can be applied instead of popping a chemical-based pill. Chiropractic care, for example, offers a natural remedy for headaches. The philosophy behind this method of treatment is that many unpleasant symptoms find their origin in a malfunctioning central nervous system. If your hypothetical symptom manifested itself in the form of a headache, a chiropractor wouldn’t simply prescribe you a pain-reliever and send you on your merry way; said chiropractor could assume there might be a bone out of place that was interfering with your central nervous system, blocking it from optimal performance.
X-rays would probably be done to locate the source of the problem; then the chiropractor would attempt to realign whatever was out of place. The end goal, of course, would be to return your central nervous system to optimal performance, thereby eliminating the nagging symptoms that were causing your pain!
By contrast, if you were at a traditional doctor’s office, you might be subjected to blood work, CT scans, and numerous other tests costing tens of thousands of dollars. In the end, you may be prescribed a chemical with a list of side effects that were worse that your original ailment. This doesn’t help anyone at all.
The great thing about alternative medicine is there are all sorts of natural remedies that can help to reduce discomfort. Chiropractic care is only ONE of many forms of healing available. There’s also acupuncture, natural herbs, and non-chemical practices for reducing emotional stress (a common source of headaches). For thousands of years, our ancestors used many of these natural options and were often able to avoid the nasty side effects we see today with many chemical drugs.
Of course, modern medicine certainly has its place in the world. It can literally be a life-saver. But it should not be the only option to consider when facing a health ailment - and it certainly, in many cases, may not be the best option.
The next time you feel pain, don’t just cover up the problem and hope it goes away. Find a real solution by addressing the CAUSE of the pain. You’ll feel much better for it.
Throughout his lengthy career, Dr. Char has spent a lifetime researching and applying holistic treatments to benefit thousands of patients worldwide. As an ardent supporter of naturopathic medicine and a well known voice of reason in the holistic medical and dental community, he has authored three books and countless articles on the subject of wellness. He is also a nationally recognized authority on alternative and complementary medicine, and has used both successfully throughout his distinguished career. www.drjohnchar.com/blog