I used to take acetaminophen for minor aches and pains.
Right now, though, I don’t even own this potentially dangerous drug, which accounts for at least 50,000 emergency room visits a year.
In the United States, acetaminophen is the leading cause of sudden liver failure.
This is one OTC medication I don’t miss. taking.
In the first place, for me, it never seemed to work. Secondly, essential oils seem to do a much better job. If you have a headache, or muscle pain, they bring instant relief.
If you already own some oils, you can whip up your own pain-killing recipe. Instructions are readily available on the Internet. (You can also find my favorite formula at the end of this article.)
Or, you can buy a premixed essential oil blend. One I highly recommend is Plant Therapy Rapid Relief Synergy. This includes a mix of analgesic aromatics.
Please understand I’m not a licensed healthcare professional. So I can’t give medical advice or make any claims that a specific essential oil blend or any other natural remedy will heal your pain. All I can do is share my story of how aromatic oils bring relief from my chronic nerve pain.
Risks of Taking Acetaminophen
Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, acetaminophen has the potential to harm your liver.
Acute liver failure is very serious. It often results in death. Much of the time, it’s preventable, because it’s caused by acetaminophen.
Early symptoms can easily be mistaken for stomach flu. More advanced signs include jaundice and mental deterioration.
In the United States, the leading cause of rapid liver failure is acetaminophen poisoning, usually the result of an inadvertent overdose. Even a little too much can set off a precipitous chain of events.
Many people take acetaminophen for pain relief. That’s because it generally doesn’t cause gastrointestinal distress, a common side effect of a ibuprofen and other NSAIDs.
Even though acetaminophen didn’t help me, it is widely acknowledged to be effective. It’s often used for severe trauma, as well as for post-surgical recovery.
But popping a pill, whenever you have minor discomfort, is something I don’t do anymore. Especially since much safer pain relief exists.
Acetaminophen and Liver Failure
Since acetaminophen is an OTC drug, many people assume it’s very safe. So they may take a little more than the recommended dose.
Or they accidentally take too much. This is easy to do. Acetaminophen is packaged in different forms. So, someone may swallow a capsule. Then, they inadvertently take more in a cold and flu preparation. Unfortunately, this combination may be deadly.
In the United States alone, acetaminophen reactions send at least 50,000 people to the ER every year. But one 2011 study that ran in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine estimated the true incidence was even higher, exceeding 78,000 visits.
Because it is so easy to overdose, the FDA, as of January of 2011, no longer allows OTC acetaminophen sold in strengths above 325 milligrams.
The mainstream medical community is well aware of the risk. All emergency rooms have a compound called n-acetyl cysteine. The body uses this to make glutathione, so the liver can excrete toxins. If you take too acetaminophen, it’s important to quickly seek medical care.
Essential Oil Blend For Pain
Nowadays, for minor pain, I reach for my essential oils. These all-natural plant extracts are safer than acetaminophen. Essential oils are strong. So you do have to use them judiciously. This means not ingesting them and not applying them directly to the skin, unless they’re put in a carrier oil. (You can use olive, grapeseed or coconut oil as carriers.)
When I have a headache, I rub these diluted aromatics into my forehead. My headache instantly disappears. I also do this for muscle aches too.
I also use essential oils for nerve pain. I’ve recovered from a potentially crippling nervous system problem. Although I have no proof, I strongly suspect natural remedies, incluidng essential oils, play a role in why my condition is not progressing, and has even reversed itself. (I’m also on a strict diet, and take various herbs. Homeopathy has helped as well.)
For chronic pain, essential oils don’t have the side effects associated with OTC pain relievers. Plant Therapy Pain Aid, shown here, is a great alternative.
Because it contains peppermint oil, it can be rubbed (diluted) into the abdomen for indigestion and muscle cramps. Other oils in this synergy blend include clove, laurel, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, chamomile, juniper and thyme.
Essential oils are very strong. So you just need a little. A good ratio is one drop for every teaspoon of carrier oil. The 10 ml bottle of Plant Therapy Pain Aid should last a long time. This oil is made by a trusted company that works with a world-famous aromatherapist. All of its oils are double tested for purity. An outside lab conducts one batch of tests.
Natural Alternatives to Acetaminophen
If you’ve read this far, I sincerely hope you’ll do more research into the risks of acetaminophen. Then you can explore better alternatives.
Most of the severe reactions happen from taking too much. But this isn’t always the case.
In 2006, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported problems with the recommended dose. These included elevated liver enzymes, which mean the liver is stressed. This was seen in a group of healthy volunteers on a daily dosage schedule.
Some factors make certain individuals more susceptible to potentially dangerous reactions. These include drinking alcohol and fasting. Heavy coffee consumption may also increase the risk.
Here are more reasons not to take acetaminophen:
- The American Journal of Respiratory & Critical Care Medicine published a study showing an increased incidence of asthma among teenagers who took acetaminophen.
- The Journal of Clinical Oncology reported, in its May 9, 2011 edition, that acetaminophen raises the risk of lymphoma and myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood disease that often evolves into leukemia. (These problems occurred among heavy users.)
- Allergic reactions are also documented.
Essential Oil Pain Relief
The toxicity of some OTC drugs is the reason our family uses essential oils as part of our natural pain relief strategy. If you already own oils, here’s a really easy recipe. I can’t claim it will heal your pain, but I can pass along information about this and other folk remedies. I’ve purchased each of the oils below, so I can recommend these brands with confidence.
- 2 tablespoons of olive or grapeseed oil
- 3 drops of peppermint oil (available here)
- 2 drops of clove bud oil (available here)
- 3 drops of myrrh oil mix (available here)
Mix all of these together and store in a covered glass jar. This should be stored away from light and heat. Use as needed.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These products are not meant to diagnose‚ treat or cure any disease or medical condition.
Everything in this article is included only as information, and not intended as medical advice or opinion. People with health concerns should speak to a doctor. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use essential oils or herbal remedies unless directed to do so by a healthcare professional.