Tylenol Not Safe for Migraineurs, Especially Pregnant Women & Children

It’s damaging to your brain.  Tylenol (acetaminophen) is one of the most well-known and commonly used medicines for reducing fever and relieving pain, especially in children.  For a long time, people were led to believe that Tylenol is “safe” for use in the treatment of fever or pain, although it could have adverse effects on the liver. Have you ever been reminded to take a Motrin for a hangover rather than a Tylenol?  It’s because toxicity here is dangerous and could be fatal. 

Millions of people take this over-the-counter (OTC) medicine every week, but most don’t realize what it does to the brain. 

We’ll cover that in this post because the fact is, Tylenol is dangerous to your brain’s health, especially if you’re a migraineur, pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or a child under 12. 

What Does Tylenol do to the Brain?

From fever to a broken heart, and body pain to mental pain, Tylenol boasts of treating your every ailment.  In 2010, Scientific American suggested you should take a Tylenol if you’ve been rejected and feeling blue.  They’d found in research that Tylenol dulled and blunted pain. 

Our brains have shared spaces with multiple functions, and there are overlapping biomechanisms between physical and social pain (like the pain of rejection).  It’s not hard to understand why someone who’s had a breakup pops a Tylenol to numb and blunt that pain, but is it really safe?  No. 

In a 2013 study, researchers doled out Tylenol or a placebo to a group of people who were exposed to the researcher’s rigorous testing, exposing subjects to a jarring conflict, which was that we’re all going to die sooner or later.  Terror management social psychology states that people who are faced with mortality become more committed to their belief systems.  In this study, however, the people taking Tylenol didn’t react as strongly.

It sounds like it helps with stress, right?  Wrong.  It’s blunting your brain’s ability to care. 

People who were taking Tylenol in this study:

  • Didn’t care when they made mistakes
  • Daydreamed a lot
  • Showed less empathy than their placebo counterparts

Tylenol reaches the brain and depletes the unique antioxidant for brain health, glutathione.  This antioxidant helps us fight off inflammation and oxidative damage.  Low levels of glutathione have been linked to cancer, autoimmune disease, diabetes and more. That’s not something you want under attack.

The Concerning Side Effects of Tylenol

When given Tylenol:

  • People are less likely to care when they make a mistake
  • They don’t care about social rejection
  • They don’t respond as strongly to existential anxiety
  • There’s a tendency to daydream more
  • There’s an overwhelming reduction in sensitivity to the world around you.

What Migraineurs Can Do or Take Instead of Tylenol

Your body is a temple.  I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true.  Caring for yourself means keeping the body clean of things that shouldn’t be in the there, like pharmaceuticals, toxins from poorly grown foods, or ingredients that trigger migraines.  OTC pain relievers like Advil and Motrin are okay to use occasionally, but managing migraines and frequent headaches take a lot more time and work. 

Track your headaches and migraine symptoms in a journal.  Note the days, times, foods you ate, things you drank, any unusual stress events, and how you were feeling before the attack.  This will help you home in on what’s triggering you. 

There will always be claims that acetaminophen is safe to take at the clinical, therapeutic dosage.  That’s not entirely true, clearly, especially for migraineurs.  So, what now?  It’s time to shift into a new way of doing things.  Whole-body care means being aware of what’s good and bad for the body.  This is where you can start: stop taking Tylenol.