Got a headache? Take two Tylenol. Sore muscles? Take Tylenol. Every day, millions of Americans reach for a bottle of Tylenol to control everyday aches and pains. But a recent British review of 1,800 studies involving the use of acetaminophen, the generic name for the active ingredient in Tylenol, found that regular use increases the risk of premature death by a frightening 60 percent.
"You don't need to be one of the people who are murdered by their pain relievers every year," said best-selling author Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, author of Real Cause, Real Cure. "People are risking their lives every day and don't know it," he tells Newsmax Health.
Acetaminophen is the most common pain reliever in the United States, and it has been widely recommended because it's much less likely to cause stomach problems than aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers (NSAIDS). But the margin between a safe dose of acetaminophen and a toxic dose is small.
The 1,800-study review revealed that long-term use of acetaminophen was linked to kidney disease, gastrointestinal bleeding, and an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure.
Taking too much acetaminophen can also cause liver damage, and it's easy to overdose since Tylenol is an ingredient in many over-the-counter medications.
"Each year, up to 65,000 Americans die from painkillers, both prescription and non-prescription, yet recent statistics show that up to a third of all Americans have chronic pain," says Dr. Teitelbaum. "They're suffering needlessly.
"It's time to rethink how modern medicine treats pain," he said. "There are effective treatments, but doctors don't have a clue as to what the research is showing about safe, natural pain relievers.
"Many natural options have been shown in studies to be more effective than prescription medications, and all with a lower risk of death and fewer side effects."
Dr. Teitelbaum recommends the following natural supplements to treat pain:
• Curcumin. Curcumin, the active compound in the spice turmeric, is a potent anti-inflammatory that gives turmeric its bright yellow color. Studies show that turmeric reduces inflammation as powerfully as the prescription drug phenylbutazone (Butazolidine). "A common dose is 500 to 1,500 three times a day."
Dr. Teitelbaum's top pick for fighting chronic pain is an extract of curcumin called BCM-95. "Studies show it's way more effective than Tylenol for fighting the chronic pain of both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis."
He recommends two brands that are particularly effective. "'Curamin' is the most effective pain reliever in the world," he said. "I've seen it knock out pain that morphine wouldn't touch. Give it six weeks to get the full effects. 'End Pain' is also very effective and it's less expensive.
"Not only is the pain gone, but your body is much healthier. Curcumin also fights depression, Alzheimer's, and cancer."
• Willow bark. Willow bark contains salicin, a chemical similar to acetylsalicylic acid, the pain-relieving compound found in aspirin. According to the University of Maryland, there's good evidence that willow bark both relieves pain and reduces inflammation, and it may cause fewer gastrointestinal side effects than NSAIDS such as Advil.
Several European countries have approved willow bark to treat numerous ailments including headache and arthritis. Willow bark can be bought as an extract or powdered in capsules. "Willow bark has been shown to be effective in both osteoarthritis and back pain," says Dr. Teitelbaum. He recommends taking enough willow bark to get 240 milligrams of salicin a day and reducing the amount to 120 milligrams a day or less depending on pain.
• Boswellia. Boswellia serrata, also known as frankincense, treats inflammation and pain without causing ulcers like aspirin family medications," says Dr. Teitelbaum, "and it's been shown to be helpful for both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. "A common dose is 150 to 350 milligrams three times a day."
• Tart cherries. "Studies have shown that tart cherries inhibit inflammation as effectively as ibuprofen," he says. Eating 10 to 20 cherries a day may help arthritis, or taking 2,000 milligrams of cherry fruit extract. Cherries contain antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties, and studies have shown that they may also reduce the risk of colon and other cancers. In addition, they contain melatonin that promotes restful sleep.
In addition to the direct damage Tylenol can cause, it also interferes with the body's production of glutathione, a vital antioxidant.
"We hear a lot about how important antioxidants, such as blueberries and grape seed, are for the human body, but the human body makes two antioxidants, and glutathione is the more important one."
How big an adverse effect does Tylenol have on glutathione? "The most effective way to remove glutathione from the body known to man is Tylenol," says Dr. Teitelbaum. "If you go into the emergency room with Tylenol poisoning, the first thing they give you is NAC, which the body uses to make glutathione.
"If you take an occasional Tylenol, it's not going to cause premature death," says Dr. Teitelbaum.
"But if you take Tylenol on a regular basis, you can take a new product called clinical glutathione, which is a tablet that dissolves under the tongue. You can buy it at any health food store on online. If you take that each day you'll protect yourself from the side effects of Tylenol.
"You don't have to risk your life or your health to rid yourself of pain," he says. "You don't have to die to get pain free!"
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