PLEASE NOTE: When I reference Tylenol throughout the post it is also equal to Acetaminophen, Paracetamol, Panadol, Calpol, etc.
Tylenol = Acetaminophen, Paracetamol, Panadol, Calpol, etc.
Tylenol use even one time per year increases a child’s risk of asthma by at least 50%. As well, the risk of allergies and eczema are also increased with the use of Tylenol. The risk does seem to be dose dependent but the risk of asthma, eczema, and allergies is not worth it in my opinion. Just looking at asthma in this part of one study… “The public health significance of the findings is suggested by the population attributable risk for symptoms of severe asthma due to acetaminophen (or Tylenol, paracetamol, etc) of 43%.” Another well studied problem with Tylenol is taking it during pregnancy. Tylenol is also the #1 cause of liver failure in children, it is incredibly hard on the liver and is not a benign medication. One study looked at Tylenol use and pregnancy and found that “Those with the highest levels of exposure had 2.86 times the risk for ADHD and 3.62 times the risk for autism, compared to those with the lowest exposure.” Yet another characterizes it’s action in the body like this.. “…the authors note that the long term effects of acetaminophen exposure on neural development have never been evaluated in humans and point out that even at very low doses, acetaminophen triggers immune system activation and oxidative stress responses-both of which are hallmarks of autism.” That study found that prenatal exposure to Tylenol increases the risk of autism by 19% and for ADHD by 21%.
While we are starting to see more and more articles and even lawsuits about this, most OBGYNs still recommend Tylenol to pregnant women for pain, headaches, etc. How is this the case? Well, one study found that on average it takes 17 years for the findings from research studies to make it into conventional practice. SEVENTEEN YEARS. So when your healthcare provider hasn’t “heard of” any issues with it…have they looked at the literature?
It should be noted that one of the reasons Tylenol has such deleterious effects on the body is that it depletes glutathione levels, our body’s master antioxidant. “Acetaminophen may have a systemic inflammatory effect, possibly increasing oxygen stress resulting from the depletion of glutathione-dependent enzymes, which may in turn lead to enhanced TH2 allergic immune responses. Furthermore, acetaminophen may suppress the immune response to, and PROLONG the symptomatic illness from, rhinovirus infections, which are a common cause of severe asthma exacerbations in childhood."
Another medicine used for pain and fever reduction is ibuprofen. This medication does deplete glutathione levels but in smaller amounts than Tylenol. The issue with ibuprofen, especially in children, is that it is hard on the gut. If not taken with food it can cause nausea and vomiting. Ibuprofen is filtered by the kidneys and is very hard on them especially if it used frequently and dehydrated (which happens often with illness and is often when adults and children take ibuprofen). Ibuprofen use in women (even just here and there) can delay ovulation which can really effect a woman’s ability to get pregnant. Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs are very hard on the gut and not tolerated by many people, but here and there use is much better in my opinion than Tylenol. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t be my first go in my home.
Okay, so what are those other options? Let’s talk about three of the most common reasons children and adults take Tylenol.
1 | FEVER REDUCTION
Well first, refer to my blog on fevers, "Don't Fear the Fever - Why Fevers Can Be Okay".
Often times, parents (and sometimes medical providers) jump to fever reduction when we should let the body do what it needs to do…yes, I typically bring a fever down a bit when it hits 104, but I usually opt for natural fever reducers and not medication. So what do I use instead of Tylenol for fever reduction? Diluted peppermint oil on bottom of feet and back, warm epsom salt baths with a drop of lavender on the epsom salt then pour the epsom salt into bathtub (not cold as that will bring the temperature down too fast), homeopathic (which depends on the accompanying symptoms…here is a good blog about the different options, apple cider vinegar soaked cloths on forehead/bottom of feet, the wet sock method. More on that here.
I also use Earthley’s herbal tinctures. I use Feel Better Fast which contains Echinacea root, fennel, astragalus, elder flower, and cinnamon. This is a tincture that is safe for 6 months +..for adults I use this or Pain Potion from Earthley. Pain potion is indicated for 6 years and up. Using immune supporting herbs like what is in Immune Biotic is helpful, as it contains astragalus, echinacea, calendula, and dandelion. Echinacea can be too immune stimulating for those with autoimmune disease and using something like medicinal mushrooms as those found in this supplement from Perfect Supplements can be a better option. I use their medicinal mushrooms with children too as these are all safe, but I start very slowly (generally, children’s dosing starts at 1/4 of the adult dose of anything) and usually mix in with a warm drink, make chocolates with them, etc. I also use anti-inflammatories like The Healing Body turmeric-ginger tincture from Wild Wholistic.
2 | PAIN There is definitely a continuum with this from someone recovering from surgery to a sore throat. So for example, when my oldest had a gymnastics injury I used Arnica 30c (2 pellets under the tongue per dose) and diluted Young Living essential oils topically (I used Panaway or Deep Relief). For younger children I would use Young Living's Copaiba, Lavender, Frankincense, or diluted Peppermint essential oils. I could also use the Earthley Pain Potion with her or the Wild Wholistic turmeric tincture (usually just a few drops for 1+ ages). For something like a sore throat I would use Propolis throat spray, gargle filtered water + Thieves, a spoonful of local honey, or again, use homeopathic remedies. Gentle lymph massage is also very helpful for a sore throat as it facilitates drainage and helps local inflammation.
Headaches are a common reason people take Tylenol. A lot of times headaches are related to dehydration so first things first…electrolytes! I use Earthley electrolyte powder or Jigsaw (linked in my Fullscript), or I will use Quinton minerals (linked on Fullscript). I also take a dose of magnesium as magnesium can help headaches a lot! I use Smidge magnesium or Crucial Four magnesium bicarb. For kids, I like MagSoothe from Jigsaw (linked on Fullscript) or a tiny bit of magnesium bicarb from Crucial Four. I also use diluted Young Living essential oils topically for headaches. Peppermint or Deep Relief are my go-tos. Copaiba or Lavender or Frankincense is great for little ones. Using the Pain Potion from Earthley or The Healing Body turmeric tincture are also very helpful. Using a mini acupressure tool like this one from PranaMat is so helpful during a headache. Gua sha massage is great for sinus or other headaches. It all depends on the cause of the headache.
For chronic pain issues we need to look at root cause. But in the meantime addressing inflammation is helpful. I would use Wild Wholistic turmeric tincture or something like Agilease from Young Living as it contains turmeric and boswellia. Prana Mat full body mat for chronic headaches and back pain is also a very helpful tool. Chiropractor, craniosacral therapy, lymphatic massage, etc would all be things I would do on the road of addressing root cause. Someone with chronic widespread joint pain I would look at tick borne illnesses. Working with a bioresonance or frequency medicine practitioner will be much better for detection of these chronic infections.
3| TEETHING See image below. I also love diffusing Gentle Baby and Lavender overnight in the bedroom as this helps to foster bonding and helps the baby feel safe.
Do I worry about a here and there dose of ibuprofen for random pain? No. But is it my go to? No, its not. There are so many other options. BUT do I use Tylenol at all in my home? No, I don’t. It has systemic effects that carry consequences, especially with long-term use. If my children did receive a dose, I would focus on extra Vitamin C as Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant, is needed by the liver and is helpful to offset the effects of Tylenol on the liver.
Every situation is not so easy or simple but I hope in this blog I have offered some help answering the question of what to use instead of Tylenol. As you can see there are so many options!
PLEASE NOTE: This is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. These things are supportive in nature. This is not meant to be medical advice, this is meant to be educational. Please speak to your healthcare provider before changing anything in your healthcare routine.
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