Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Tylenol Dulls Both Physical and Emotional Pain

Tylenol ( acetaminophen) is a very popular over the counter pain reliever that has been used for years and it doesn't cause people to enter states of altered consciousness like a narcotic.  Tylenol is thought to be quite effective and benign in use.

Acetaminophen as a pain reliever is different from ibuprofen in that it inhibits the messengers that help to transmit pain signals and induce fever. The body produces prostaglandins in response to an injury or illness. Acetaminophen reduces the pain by helping to block this signaling.  Ibuprofen actually inhibits the production of the prostaglandins and their inflammatory effect on the body.  In a sense, acetaminophen is affecting the way we feel pain and process it in our brain.

Since acetaminophen is working in the brain with perception, it may also act on emotions and have other neurological effects besides pain relief.  It has been shown to lessen our perception of both positive and negative stimuli.  In a sense it has a general blunting effect on an individual's evaluative and emotional processing.

While we think of acetaminophen as a purely physical relief, it can lessen the effects of emotional distress like social rejection, anxiety and other mental discomfort. Unfortunately, acetaminophen has been shown to degrade a person's evaluative responses and people make mistakes when processing information.  Inasmuch as people are less reactive and have a blunted perception from acetaminophen, they tend to make errors in certain situations.

Since acetaminophen is not necessarily reducing pain and it affects our emotional state, we should consider these things before using it.  There may be other alternatives like herbs, vitamins or physical therapy that may reduce our pain and keep our neurological processes unaffected.  Acetaminophen has been shown to cause liver toxicity when taken in excessively, so fniding an alternative is a good thing.

Stay healthy & well,

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