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Health October 2015

Dear Pharmacist

Acetaminophen is Popular! Protect Yourself from Its Side Effects

By Suzy Cohen

The mere ritual of drinking wine with dinner and then taking acetaminophen-containing pain relievers will silently strain your liver to the point of injury.  You may get diagnosed with “fatty” liver or diabetes or obesity. 

Tylenol is popular. It is known generically as “acetaminophen” or “paracetamol,” and is one of the leading pain relievers in the entire world. It’s probably in every medicine cabinet (including mine), right next to my ibuprofen. 

Most people know ibuprofen can hurt the gut, whereas acetaminophen can hurt the liver. Today I want to focus on protecting you if you like to take acetaminophen.

Many years ago, probably in 2001, I warned you all to take a certain supplement called “NAC”, in order to protect your liver and restore glutathione levels if you needed to take acetaminophen routinely. I was right about NAC, and today, 14 years later, conventional physicians are starting to recommend NAC too.

NAC can help reduce toxic effects of acetaminophen according to research published in the journal Drug Development Research, in August 2015. This article provided an outright statement that recommended drug companies add the amino acid NAC, short for N-Acetyl Cysteine to the drug acetaminophen, in order to prevent toxic drug side effects. (But I told you this years ago in my column, and in my free newsletter which you should get if you haven’t already! Sign up at suzycohen.com.)

Acetaminophen is what I call a “drug mugger” of the antioxidant glutathione which can’t be produced in the body without a little help. It needs NAC in order to be made. There are more than 600 medications on the market that contain acetaminophen which can provoke serious adverse effects.  In fact, acetaminophen tops the worldwide list for drugs known to cause acute liver failure, sometimes caused by one single overdose, or by a therapeutic miscalculation. By the time a correct diagnosis is made, up to 90 percent of the liver may be shut down.

The mere ritual of drinking wine with dinner and then taking acetaminophen-containing pain relievers will silently strain your liver to the point of injury.  You may get diagnosed with “fatty” liver or diabetes or obesity. 

The drug toxicity and risk associated with acetaminophen caused researchers to boldly advise that NAC be added to ALL acetaminophen preparations. Their goal is to have makers replace current over the counter acetaminophen products with those that also contain NAC. The rationale is to prevent accidental (and intentional acetaminophen toxicity) that occurs today and protect your liver with every dose. Several million people use acetaminophen without a second thought. The only time NAC or similar prescription forms are used is if you show up at the emergency room with an overdose. 

The wheels of medical progress and change spin slowly.

So here’s my suggestion, and you can obviously consult with your physician to be 100 percent sure:  Every time you take acetaminophen, take an NAC supplement with it. Consider at least 600 -1800 mg per day of NAC. Fill your diet with sulfur-rich foods and consider the new glutathione boosting probiotic now available called Reg’Activ. Other important glutathione supporting nutrients are selenium, zinc, glycine, glutamine, R-lipoic acid, PQQ, silymarin, and B complex.

 

A licensed pharmacist for over 22 years, Suzy Cohen shares the pros and cons of medication use as well as natural substitutions for most any of your health concerns. Visit Suzy’s website at www.dearpharmacist.com.

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