Tylenol is touted as a perfectly safe pain medication to pop for the every day headache, backache, pain in the behind (lol), etc etc. In proper dosage, Tylenol is, indeed, very safe to take for the occasional ache and pain. Where you can go wrong, however, is to assume that it's safe to take, even in proper dosage, on a consistent basis.
I unfortunately fell into Tylenol's vicious cycle and am in the process of escaping it. While I have always been migraine-prone, a combination of the stress of acute illness, other very stressful life events, and working in an office environment left me with awful headaches and neck pain on a daily basis. I have an allergy to ibuprofen (Advil), so I turned to acetaminophen (Tylenol) to find relief and allow me to continue to perform my job productively.
What I did not know was that long-term usage of acetaphetamine depletes the body of its most powerful anti-oxidant, glutathione. I also did not understand that as someone who has the MTHFR gene mutation, my body is already depleted of glutathione. Therefore, doing anything to further deplete my body of this critical antioxidant can have terrible health-related consequences.
Besides the increased likelihood of falling into acute or chronic illness, guess what one of the symptoms of low glutathione is? Increased headaches! So of course, not understanding any of this, I continued to turn to acetaminophen. I then further depleted my body of glutathione. Acute illness turned into chronic illness. I developed insomnia (another symptom of low glutathione), which increased my headaches and migraines even more. I turned to acetaminophen increasingly often. The cycle persisted.
Once I understood this dynamic, I made a decision to only turn to acetaminophen if I absolutely could not function that day without it. Instead, I began to focus on healing myself from the inside out with lifestyle changes. Basically, to increase my natural levels of glutathione and enjoy its benefits. Interestingly, once I made this lifestyle shift, the temptation to reach for the pain medication has consequently greatly decreased! Now, I rarely need to resort Tylenol and am much healthier overall.
So, besides cutting back on acetaminophen, what can you do to increase your body's levels of glutathione?
-Take a compounded glutathione supplement under your doctor's guidance (this should not be taken long term)
-Take N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC), which is the pre-cursor to glutathione and will boost production naturally
-Eat a healthy diet, rich in sulfur, selenium, and Vitamin C, and natural folate
-Take a methylfolate B vitamin
-Drink turmeric tea
-Try bone broth
-Get 7-8 hours of sleep per night
-Get regular physical activity, including especially de-stressing exercise such as yoga
-Receive a nutritional IV that contains glutathione
-Avoid excessive alcohol -Basically support detox pathways in the body in any way