Better known by its brand name, Tylenol, it is recommended as the first-line pain reliever for low-back pain, and you probably don’t think twice about taking a tablet or two if you’re feverish or in pain from virtually any cause.
Aside from back pain, headaches, arthritis, sprains and menstrual cramps are among the most common reasons for its usage (although Tylenol is found in hundreds of over-the-counter medications, such as cold medicines, as well).
Tylenol has gained so much popularity because, you would think, it works … or, at least people believe it works.
This latter reason may, in fact, be giving Tylenol too much credit, as a new study revealed even a placebo worked better at relieving pain than Tylenol.
Lancet Journal Study: No Difference in Recovery Between Tylenol and Placebo
The research, which was funded by drug maker GlaxoSmithKline Australia, involved a randomized, placebo-controlled study conducted at 235 primary care centers in Australia.
Patients with low-back pain were randomly assigned to receive up to four weeks of regular doses of paracetamol (three times a day) or placebo.
The median time to recover from low-back pain was 17 days in the paracetamol group while those in the placebo group recovered a day sooner, after 16 days![i]
The implications of this are astounding, and call into question whether Tylenol should be used at all to treat back pain. The researchers noted:
“Our findings suggest that regular or as-needed dosing with paracetamol does not affect recovery time compared with placebo in low-back pain, and question the universal endorsement of paracetamol in this patient group.”
Tylenol Overdose is a Leading Cause of Fatal Liver Damage
If Tylenol were a completely safe substance and might work to help relieve pain, a case could be made for taking it. However, given the new study showing a placebo works just as well, if not better, Tylenol usage becomes quite controversial.
The problem is that Tylenol is very hard on your liver. If you take too much, you could suffer from fatal liver damage.
We’ve been warning about this problem with these drugs for some time now, and back in 2011 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) specifically asked all makers of prescription acetaminophen products to limit dosages to 325 milligrams (mg) per capsule.
One tablet of Extra Strength Tylenol contains 500 mg of acetaminophen — higher than the set limit for prescription products.
The daily recommended maximum for adults is 4,000 mg, which sounds like a lot until you realize just how many products contain this drug. Pain relievers, fever reducers, cough/cold remedies, sleep aids and others may all contain acetaminophen.
Acetaminophen products may also cause fatal skin reactions known as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS), toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) and acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis (AGEP). Though this is rare, it happens often enough that the FDA issued a warning about it last year.[ii]
So what’s a person with back pain (or other aches or injuries) to do? It’s time Tylenol took a back seat to what really works to relieve pain while also healing the underlying cause of most pain (i.e. inflammation).
What really works is Heal-n-Soothe, the all-natural pain- and inflammation-reliever that has already helped more than 165,000 people become pain free. Oh, and did I mention that it’s 100% safe and side-effect-free? So say buh-bye to Tylenol and, instead …