Sustainable Wellth

When does pain-free mean certain death? More often than you’d like

Published February 13, 2011

The painkillers we’re taking to make us feel better may actually be causing us a great deal of harm.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a limit on the amount of acetaminophen in analgesics due to risk of liver injury – meaning the common ingredient found in Tylenol, when combined with other medications such as cold medicine or opiate painkillers like Vicodin or Percocet, can have no more than 325 mgs per dose.

The reasoning behind this cap, according to this article in, is that people often take acetaminophen painkillers in addition to their regularly prescribed medication that already contain the ingredient, resulting in a far great dose than recommended or safe.

Another common pain reliever, Ibuprofen, has been found to increase the risk of death by heart-related incidents in otherwise healthy people. According to this study by cardiologist Dr. Emil L. Fosbol, certain non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs such as Advil or Motrin should be limited to 1,200 mg, or about 3 doses, per day.

What both revelations fail to mention is perhaps the most obvious point: pain is the first signal our bodies send that something is amiss. Masking the symptoms with substances that are proven to be toxic does not treat the problem, but in fact causes us more harm.

When taking painkillers, it’s not uncommon to “self-dose,” or take a quantity of medication that matches our discomfort level rather than reading the directions. Why then, when we regularly and intentionally overdose on substances, are we surprised and disturbed when we learn such behavior is causing liver failure and heart attacks?

Rather than taking responsibility for our own health, many of us have grown accustomed to waiting for published studies, government warnings, or our doctor’s advice to tell us what is harmful or helpful. However, most normal physicians are ill-equipped to help us solve these problems and most people are ill-advised to rely solely on their doctor’s orders. After all, most of us only see our doctors a few times a year or less and for only about ten minutes per visit at that. You can be almost certain that your doctor is not studying your charts at home. This is why they are prone to prescribe us drugs to alleviate symptoms rather than solve the root problem.

Natural physicians, on the other hand, realize the importance of educating their patients on how to take care of themselves and be more aware when a problem first presents itself rather than waiting until it develops into something far more serious.

If you are suffering from chronic pain, chances are you’ve been neglecting some aspect of your health. Taking prescription drugs or over-the-counter analgesics for prolonged periods of time causes our bodies to develop higher tolerances. Where once you may have needed two pills, eventually you will need four, and then six, then you’ll be moving on to stronger drugs like Vicodin to treat the same amount of pain.

What’s more, the more of these drugs we take, the more they build up in our system. Our body must then focus on getting rid of the toxic agents rather than healing itself. In other words, painkillers are actually preventing us from being healthy.

Like our vehicles, our bodies require regular maintenance. If our brakes squeal or engine sputters, most of us don’t hesitate to solve the problem to keep our car in its best shape. When our back is sore or our head aches, we should be similarly attentive.

When in pain, our first action should not be to grab the nearest prescription bottle and take a fist-full of chemicals, but step back and assess the origin of the pain. What’s in your food and water? What are you exposed to on a daily basis? Has waste built-up in your system to a level of toxicity? When such matters are addressed regularly, many of your common aches and pains will be alleviated.

Though the key to curative healing does not lie in your HMO, you can take responsibility for what you put into your body. When it comes to your health, it is up to you to ask more questions and understand your choices.