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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Tylenol Most Common Cause of Liver Failure

Acetaminophen poisoning is now the most common cause of acute liver failure in the United States. Attempted suicides account for many cases, but almost half are the result of unintentional overdose.

Unintentional Overdose Worse Than Intentional

Some 36 percent of Americans take acetaminophen at least once a month, making it the most widely used pain reliever in the United States. Taking more than the recommended dose, however, can lead to fatal liver injury.

And those who had unintentionally taken overdoses usually have even worse outcomes than those who has done so intentionally, since unintentional overdoses are usually not recognized as such immediately.

Cases Nearly Doubled Over Five Years

Researchers examined the case histories of almost 700 liver-failure patients over a six-year period. They found that:
  • Cases of acute liver failure blamed on acetaminophen use rose sharply from 28 percent in 1998 to 51 percent five years later.
  • More patients overdosed unintentionally on acetaminophen (48 percent) than did so intentionally (44 percent)
  • Sixty-three percent who accidentally overdosed used a prescription acetaminophen compound while 38 percent had been taking two acetaminophen meds at the same time.
  • Some patients had been taking less than 4 grams of acetaminophen daily before their livers failed.

As Little as 7.5 Grams Per Day

The data suggests that consistent use of as little as 7.5 grams of acetaminophen a day may be hazardous. Rather than resulting in chronic illness, acetaminophen injury has a threshold of safety that, when exceeded, can have immediate and devastating results.

Hepatology December 2005; 42(6): 1364-1372EurekAlert November 29, 2005

Dr. Mercola's Comment:
You probably already knew that acute liver failure is one of the more health-harming side effects of acetaminophen. Experts believe acetaminophen causes its damage by depleting your body of glutathione. If you keep your glutathione levels up, the damage from acetaminophen may be largely preventable.

Even conventional medicine recognizes this, as anyone who overdoses on it receives large doses of N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) in the emergency room. NAC is a precursor of glutathione and helps restore this necessary and important bionutrient when Tylenol suppresses it.

Pain is an important "clue" that your body provides you and it is typically seeking to warn you to correct the underlying disorder. So the best and foremost action you can take is to seek to identify the cause of your pain.

If you are unable to address the cause immediately, such as an accident, then you will certainly want to consider using the amazing tool of EFT. Last month I ran a story of how you can use it for burns and muscle injuries. But you could use it for just about any type of pain.

Tylenol is effective fordiscomfort due to inflammatory and non-inflammatory pain. If you want to treat any inflammatory pain without harming your health, you'll want to review my recent piece on seven safe and effective treatments, none of which have anything to do with a drug but are useful for inflammatory-type pain:

Ginger: This herb is anti-inflammatory and offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties. Fresh ginger works well steeped in boiling water as a tea or grated into vegetable juice.

Boswellia: This herb contains specific active anti-inflammatory ingredients, referred to as boswellic acids that animal studies have shown significantly reduce inflammation. This is one of my personal favorites as I have seen it work well with many of my rheumatoid arthritis patients

Fish Oils: The omega-3 fats EPA and DHA found in fish oil have been found, by many animal and clinical studies, to have anti-inflammatory properties that reduce joint inflammation and promote joint lubrication.

Those of you who read the newsletter regularly know that I'm a fan of Carlson's brand fish oil and cod liver oil as I have seen clear and often substantial improvements in my patients who use it. It has shown particularly positive benefits in those with rheumatoid arthritis.

Bromelain: This enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory. It can be taken in supplement form, but eating fresh pineapple may also be helpful.

Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO): This oil, found in fish and dairy butter, acts as a "joint lubricant" and an anti-inflammatory. The delicious raw butter we carry from organic pastures contains "Wulzen anti-stiffness factor." This factor has been found to be highly effective in reversing arthritis and protects against calcification of joints.

Evening Primrose, Black Currant and Borage Oils: These contain the essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is useful for treating arthritic pain. I personally prefer the use of GLA supplements from evening primrose oil, but borage oil contains a higher concentration of GLA, which means you need fewer capsules, and it tends to be less expensive.

Cayenne Cream: Also called capsaicin cream, this spice comes from dried hot peppers. It alleviates pain by depleting the body's supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmits pain signals to the brain.

by Dr. Joseph Mercola


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