The Problem With Some Headache Medications … and a Simple Way to Solve It

October 24, 2006
Volume 03    |   Issue 45

You may have heard that some common pain medications cause more problems than they solve. Just because you can buy something in a drugstore, that doesn't mean it's safe.

Take acetaminophen, found in many over-the-counter drugs including Tylenol. A small amount taken occasionally may be safe. But Poison Control centers across the country report between 70-100 deaths from it each year. And there are far more cases of non-fatal liver damage. In fact, acetaminophen is the most common cause of liver failure.  Your risk of liver failure triples if you take 1,000 tablets of acetaminophen over the course of your lifetime. 
That sounds like a lot, but it's less than 20 pills per year.

The good news is that this dangerous side effect is completely unnecessary. There's a simple antidote you can find in any health food store that protects your liver from damage.

The remedy is N-acetyl cysteine, also known as NAC.

NAC is a nutrient that comes from cysteine, a sulfur-containing amino acid. When you take it in therapeutic doses, it acts as a potent antioxidant. And it protects your liver from acetaminophen toxicity. In fact, NAC has prevented the need for liver transplants in a number of cases of Tylenol overdose.

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Even if you take only small doses of acetaminophen on occasion, consider taking NAC. Take 200 mg of NAC for every 500 mg of acetaminophen. This dose will prevent liver toxicity.

Finally, if you're taking Tylenol for headaches, I've got a better solution. Next week, I'll tell you about this 100% safe remedy. And it's just as effective as over-the-counter pain medications.

Your voice of reason in Women's Health,


American Journal Health System Pharmacy, vol 56, June 1999.

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