Each week, millions of Americans take one of the 600 medicines that contain acetaminophen, Tylenol’s active ingredient, for various aches and pains. Acetaminophen is the most common drug ingredient in the US, but this ‘harmless drug’ is linked to over 110,000 injuries and deaths per year. How can Tylenol, which is doled out like candy, be bad for you? Amazingly, no one really knows how acetaminophen works1, but people do know that this drug gets to your brain. Tylenol in your brain is concerning because it depletes glutathione2, an antioxidant that is especially necessary for brain health. Our bodies depend on antioxidants to balance oxidative damage and inflammation. If you’re popping a Tylenol with your morning antioxidant-rich KB Smoothie, Tylenol may rob you of the smoothie’s benefits! Tylenol Side Effects: Beyond Liver Damage Most people have heard that Tylenol can damage the liver (has anyone ever drunkenly warned you to take a Motrin, not a Tylenol, to prevent a hangover?). But since everything in our bodies is connected, it’s not surprising that Tylenol can do damage beyond your liver. A recent study showed that people who took Tylenol had increased risks of death, heart toxicity, gastrointestinal bleeding, and kidney damage3. Importantly, people who took more Tylenol suffered more damage. It’s also scary how Tylenol affects mood. After swallowing 1000 mg of Tylenol, people exhibited less empathy and blunted positive emotions. For reference, 1000 mg is two extra-strength Tylenol tablets, and the ‘safe’ range is 3000 mg per day. This means that popping two Tylenols can affect you physically and emotionally! If you’re pregnant or looking to become pregnant, please be especially careful about taking Tylenol. Research has shown that children exposed to acetaminophen in the womb had behavioral, communication, and motor skill problems. Another study linked prenatal acetaminophen exposure with increased ADHD-like behaviors and medication use. What about other painkillers? Hopefully you’re convinced to think twice before taking a Tylenol, but what about other pain-relievers like Motrin, Aleve, or Advil? These non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) must be safe, since thirty million people take them every day! Not so fast… Women who recognize the importance of hormonal balance should be wary. NSAIDs can mess with ovulation, especially progesterone levels, after only 10 days of use4. Additionally, NSAIDs injure the small intestine; in one study, 71% of NSAID users showed small intestinal damage, compared to 10% of non-users5. Damaged intestines can lead to intestinal permeability, or “leaky gut.” Leaky gut has been linked to depression, ADHD, and allergies. NSAIDs can cause leaky gut6 and harm your microbiome, the trillions of beneficial bacteria that live in and on us. Disrupting our bacteria can do more damage than we realize! How can I relieve my headache?! Now that you know the surprising dangers of Tylenol and other NSAIDs, what should you take for headaches and other aches and pains? Turmeric, the yellow root found in curry powder, contains a powerful anti-inflammatory and pain reliever called curcumin. This has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine as a treatment for pain, digestive disorders, and wound healing for centuries. Many studies show the beneficial effects of curcumin; curcumin works as well as ibuprofen to alleviate pain from knee osteoarthritis7 and PMS8. Next time you have a headache, try 1-2 grams of curcumin – or a turmeric latte! LeanMachine once had many headaches, but now (nearly 2017 as I write this article) has not had a headache, cold or flu, or any other illness since changes to diet and lifestyle at age 63 in 2010.
Other related subjects coming soon:
Cervicogenic Headaches, Trigeminal Headaches, Occipital Headaches, Giant Cell Arteritis Headaches, Lupus headaches, Anaemia Headaches, Sinus Headaches and many more.
In the meantime, email me here if you have any questions or special needs.
The Vitamin ConnectionAt the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, researchers measured vitamin blood levels in more than 4,500 young migraine patients.
A high percentage were deficient in:
- Vitamin D3 - 89% were low in Vitamin D3
- Vitamin B-2 (riboflavin) - 41% were low in Vitamin B2
- Folate - 63% were low in Folate
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) - 71% were low in Coenzyme Q10
Unfortunately, the study did not go the extra step and give vitamins to patients to see if this resolved the headaches, but they suggest it could work, presumably by "stabilising the brain".
Studies since then have revealed that Vitamin B-6, Folate and Vitamin B-12 can relieve or prevent migraines.
Other studies have included Vitamin B-2 as important for treating headaches.
LeanMachine suggests the following:
- Vitamin B-6 100mg 250 capsules
- Active Folate 400mcg 90 vcaps
- Active Vitamin B-12 1500mcg 60 vcaps
- Vitamin D3 5000 IU 360 gelcaps
- Vitamin K2 MK7 100mcg 60 vcaps (prevents calcium buildup in arteries with D3)
- Vitamin B-2 100mg 100 capsules
- CoEnzyme Q10 100mg 120 softgels
Many things cause migraines, but here are some things to consider:
What are the Symptoms of Migraine Headaches?Often the cause is either swollen or costricted blood vessels in the brain, causing symptoms such as:
- Throbbing pain, on one or both sides of the head
- Pain behind one of the eyes
- Moderate to very bad pain, often bad enough to prevent normal activities
- Pain which may worsen with normal physical activity
- Nausea, vomiting, or both
- Pain which worsens with exposure to light, noise, and sometimes smells
- Pain lasting up to 4 to 72 hours
- Less common symptoms include speech problems, tingling in face, arms, and shoulders, short-term weakness on one side of the body
One or Two Days Before it StartsOne or two days before a migraine starts, there may be pre-migraine symptoms:
- Depression or grumpy behaviour
- Very happy, very awake, or full of energy
- Restless or nervous
- Very tired or sleepy
- Very thirsty or hungry, or craving certain foods
- Loss of appetite
Just Before it Starts20% of people have an "aura" - a warning sign that a migraine may start in around 30 minutes.
During an aura, symptoms include:
- See spots, wavy lines, or flashing lights
- Have numbness, tingling or "pins-and-needles" in hands, arms, or face
We are concentrating on migraines in this article, but the solutions presented here can have a positive effect for all types of headaches.
It is worth noting at this point that LeanMachine, up to the age of 63, has always suffered from headaches of all types.
Since discovering the Paleolithic or "Caveman" diet, no colds, no flu, no allergies, and not a single headache of any kind!
LeanMachine is now nearly 7 years on at age almost 70 as I update this article, and definitely a believer in a healthy raw diet of zero processed foods!
Medication is the Wrong Way to Treat Migraines!Medications used to treat migraines typically create a life long dependence without addressing the origin of the headache.
Many of these medications can cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies, creating new problems as well as making headaches worse.
Panadol, Panadeine, Paracetamol, Tylenol, Acetaminophen are all different names for the same thing, and they ALL cause liver damage!
Manufacturers used to say the maximum daily dose is 8 x 500mg or 4000 mg daily.
They are now saying that the maximum daily dose is 6 x 500mg, or three grams (3000mg) daily, while others are still illegally claiming 4000mg (8 x 500mg) daily.
Studies prove that this amount of 3000mg daily causes liver damage, and can make the headache worse!
For those poor souls with unbearable migraine pain, how many of them stop at six tablets a day?
If any alcohol is consumed, liver damage can start at just 4 tablets (2000mg) a day!
Panadol Poisoning is the number one cause of liver damage in the Western world, made worse by the “safe and effective” advertising slogans, which are lies perpetuated by the drug companies to sell their products to unsuspecting patients.
In the USA, Poison Control Centers report 100,000 calls, 56,000 emergency room visits, 2,600 hospitalizations and nearly 500 deaths each year from Acetaminophen (Panadol, Tylenol) alone.
Up to nine out of every ten people on the liver transplant waiting list are there because of Acetaminophen (Panadol) overdose!
Acetaminophen is known as Tylenol in the USA, and as Panadol, Paracetamol and several other names in Australia, the UK and other countries.
Aspirin and other NSAID medications have both good and bad implications.
The bad: A 50% increased risk of intestinal bleeding and cerebral haemorrhage, especially if blood vessels in the brain have structural weakness.
Of course, no one knows if they have such a weakness until they suffer a haemorrhage, and often the result is death.
The coroner's report will list the cause of death as "cerebral haemorrhage" when it should be listed as "aspirin".
A study of over 2,000 people over 15 years shows a link between regular aspirin use and a higher risk (up to 300% increased) of developing the "wet" (more severe) form of age-related macular degeneration.
The relationship was "dose-dependent", i.e. the higher the aspirin dose, the higher the risk of the vision loss.
Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness among those over 55, with the wet form caused by leaking blood vessels causing degeneration of the central retina.
The Good: As a blood thinner, aspirin inhibits clotting, reducing heart attack risk and ischemic (clotting) stroke risk (but increases haemorrhagic stroke risk!)
Aspirin also reduces inflammation, pain and fever by preventing production of prostoglandins (a hormone-like substances), but this also depletes a protective layer in the stomach, increasing ulcer risk, and increasing bleed risk if an ulcer is formed.
Regular aspirin use is not recommended for anyone unless they are recovering from a previous heart attack or ischemic stroke.
Other prescription pain pills will be even worse, so forget them and use natural remedies which are proven to actually work.
Natural Alternatives to Pain Medication
- Feverfew - this herb got it's name because it reduces fevers and headaches. Typical dose 100mg to 300mg four times daily. No known side-effects.
- White Willow Bark - as effective as Aspirin or Panadol. Still some intestinal bleeding side-effects, but less dangerous than Aspirin.
Triggers for MigrainesTyramine:
Forget the leftovers!
Foods refrigerated after cooking can build up an amine chemical called tyramine, a by-product of the amino acid tyrosine.
This occurs naturally, aiding in blood pressure regulation, but too much may trigger migraines.
Foods are highest in tyramine if over 24 hours old, so leftovers from cooked meals should be avoided.
Worst are meats, aged cheeses, some nuts, pizza, pepperoni, sausage.
Some cheeses trigger migraines even when fresh, and after cooking and refrigeration are normally much worse.
People on MAOI medication (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors) and other "depression" drugs suppress the enzyme monoamine oxidase, which normally breaks down tyramine, leading to a higher risk of migraines.
A depressed person does not need more headaches.
Depression always leads to increased pain sensation, and pain may be why they came to be depressed in the first place, resulting in a never-ending cycle!
Food AllergiesFood-related migraines may be an allergy or a reaction to tyramine, but a food diary should be the first step.
Record everything that we eat or drink, whether it is cooked, refrigerated, re-heated, take-away, and any reaction which may follow.
This can be difficult, as a reaction may occur within a few hours (usually within 6 to 8 hours) or even up to 2 weeks, but eventually a pattern may form.
It will make the task easier if meals are simple and all snacks between meals are avoided (and this may eliminate the problem!)
Other Diet Issues:Cold meats often trigger migraines because of nitrates and nitrites they contain.
Only buy fresh meat from your local butcher, not from the supermarket, and never any sausages, hot dogs, cold meats, or any other processed meats as almost always chemical preservatives are added.
Fasting may trigger migraines, as can chocolate, cocoa, or caffeine.
Other Things to AvoidPerfumes, scented air fresheners, and scented soaps.
Hot tubs, SPA and swimming pools contain chemicals such as Chlorine, Bromine, Fluoride, etc which can trigger migraines.
Most processed foods - 99% of processed foods contain chemicals (anything with numbers on the ingredients list).
Eat nothing but fresh, preferably organic foods,never anything from a box, packet, can, bag, etc.
Drink only water, preferably from a water distiller or Reverse Osmosis system - never fizzy drinks or fruit juices.
Eliminate alcoholic drinks, or at least restrict to 1 drink daily, avoiding red wine altogether.
Hot and Cold ShowersHop into the shower with the water as cold as we can stand for at least a minute, then hot (but not too hot) for a minute, then cold, repeating this cycle a few times, finishing with cold.
This helps the body relax swollen blood vessels.
De-StressWe can suffer from stress as a result of positive or negative emotional experiences.
Meditation can relieve the stress, allowing the headache to subside.
Sit in a quiet, dark place, listen to some soothing music, and take the mind to a tranquil place, far away from the stress source.
Above all, if there are any problems, especially problems that seem insurmountable, just "Let them go", because all the worry in the world will not make the problems disappear.
OxygenOur brains can starve for oxygen when veins and cells around the brain swell, restricting blood flow.
The brain asks the body for more oxygen, and the body responds by increasing blood pressure to force more blood through, swelling the blood vessels even more.
Pressure is placed on surrounding nerves, worsening headaches.
Vision may be blurred, we may see auras or other side effects of migraine, all caused by pressure from swollen blood vessels.
Oxygen treatment has become more effective, especially for “cluster headaches” and can relieve symptoms for half of migraine patients.
Inhaled oxygen gives the brain the oxygen it needs without increasing blood flow, but when treatment stops, headaches may return in minutes, hours or days.
For permanent headache elimination, we must feed the brain enough oxygen all of the time.
The brain uses almost 40% of all oxygen delivered by the blood, but organs and muscles have oxygen priority, often leaving the brain short.
We can breathe more, but to breathe better without having to think about it, we must train the body to breathe better.
Use the Diaphragm
If we lie flat on our back and take a deep breath, we see our chest rise. This is lazy, non-diaphragm breathing.
When we watch young children breathe, their stomach will rise more than their chest, breathing naturally with the diaphragm.
The lower half of the lungs is far more efficient in oxygen delivery, with the bottom 13% of the lungs providing 60ml of oxygen in the blood per minute. The top 7% of the lungs provide only 4ml oxygen per minute, so we must practice diaphragm breathing.
A few minutes of diaphragm breathing will generate 20% more oxygen for the brain, often relieving even the worst headaches.
For those suffering from hypertension (blood pressure), a few minutes of deep diaphragm breathing can drop our systolic pressure by 20 points or more, staying lower for some time after we return to normal breathing.
Breathing Test - How posture affects breathingThese three exercises show how posture affects our breathing.
- Stand up straight, pulling shoulders up toward the ears, take a deep breath and hold the air.
Now relax the shoulders, and now we can suddenly draw in more air!
- Sit down hunched over with a curved spine and caved-in chest. Breathe in fully, then straighten up and we can breathe in a lot more air!
- Suck in the stomach muscles, breathe in fully, then relax the stomach and we can again breathe in as much air again now that our diaphragm is not pinned against our contracted stomach muscles.
More oxygen will breathe life into dying cells, destroy cancers, and keep our brain, organs and muscles healthy.
Too many of us sit hunched over a computer, or sitting with a curved spine in a comfy lounge chair, causing short, shallow breathing, and never exhaling completely until our subconscious mind forces a big sigh or yawn.
Yawning is a wake-up call to start breathing correctly. If we yawn while we are driving on a long trip, or sitting in front of the TV or working at the keyboard too long, it's a wake-up call.
If driving, stop. If sitting, get up. Walk around the room or the car a few times, practising deep diaphragm breathing.
Now resume the previous task, but pay attention to the spine - keep it straight to allow the diaphragm to work!
If we ignore warning signs when driving, our reflexes are slower, we tire easily, and we are the same menace on the road as the drunks!
Exercises to Aid BreathingRemove tension from the muscles around the head, the jaw, and throat. Massage the scalp, facial muscles, neck, and side and back of the head.
Regularly stretch the neck muscles - this can relieve headaches as well as neck ache.
Some may experience a rush of energy from better blood flow after these exercises.
Gluten IntolerancePeople with Celiac Disease are sensitive to gluten, which is found in all grain-based products made from wheat, barley, rye and includes most malted products or those where malts or grains are an ingredient.
However, almost everyone does better on a gluten-free diet, even if they have not been diagnosed as a Celiac.
Try eliminating all gluten from the diet for a month, and 99% of people will feel and look better, as the human body has evolved over 2 million years without grains, which only entered our food chain just 10,000 years ago, the last half of one percent of our evolution.
Allergy Lab TestingMany Labs yield inconsistent or incomplete results as they only measure one or two types of antibodies (immunoglobulins) - IgG and IgA.
When most doctors look for gluten sensitivity, they typically only measure IgG response to the gluten protein gliadin.
Unfortunately, gliadin is just one of thousands of different glutens.
Humans make five different types of antibodies, and also have other types of chemical reactions to allergens.
The five antibody subclasses are:
- Immunoglobulin A (IgA) - found in high concentrations in the mucous membranes - especially those lining respiratory passages, gastrointestinal tract, saliva and tears.
- Immunoglobulin G (IgG) - found in all body fluids (the most abundant type) - protects against bacterial and viral infections.
- Immunoglobulin M (IgM) - found mainly in blood and lymph fluid - the first to be made by the body to fight a new infection.
- Immunoglobulin E (IgE) - found in lungs, skin and mucous membranes, and associated mainly with allergic reactions, such as the immune system overreacting to antigens such as pollen or pet dander.
- Immunoglobulin D (IgD) - found in tiny amounts in the blood, and the least understood antibody.
We can't help the genes we are born with, but we can identify them and change our diet and lifestyle to accommodate them.
Gluten sensitivity and celiac disease can be evaluated with genetic testing.
Most research into gluten is linked to celiac disease, and most celiac disease research focuses only on wheat, barley, rye and sometimes oats.
Some studies have linked corn gluten to adverse reactions, and almost half of celiacs do not get better on a traditional gluten free diet, which is not really gluten free.
Anyone related to someone with celiac disease or anyone suffering from the following list should be tested:
- Chronic intestinal problems
- Infertility or recurrent miscarriage
- Chronic anemia
- Migraine Headaches
- Bipolar or Schizophrenia
- Low thyroid (Hypothyroid)
- ADD or ADHD
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Restless Legs Syndrome
- Sleep Apnea
- Type I or II diabetes
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Any Autoimmune Disease
Other Food Allergy SourcesAdditional food triggers for headaches are sugar, chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, cheese and other dairy products, wine, processed meats and all artificial sweeteners (Nutrasweet, Aspartame, etc).
None of these items are required for good nutrition so should be avoided anyway for good health.
Your doctor can organise a "delayed hypersensitivity food allergy test".
Vitamin and mineral deficienciesVitamins are often used for migraines, commonly vitamin B2, B-12(most common deficiency for celiacs), and folate. The minerals magnesium and zinc, and CoQ10 supplements can help.
Fix the SpineMany headaches begin with spine alignment issues and/or muscular dysfunction. Good chiropractors can often resolve these problems.
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DisclaimerLeanMachine is not a doctor, and everyone should consult with their own health professional before taking any product to ensure there is no conflict with existing prescription medication.
LeanMachine has been studying nutrition and health since 2011 and has completed many relevant studies including:
Open2Study, Australia - Food, Nutrition and Your Health
RMIT University, Australia - Foundations of Psychology
Swinburne University of Technology, Australia - Chemistry - Building Blocks of the World
University of Washington, USA - Energy, Diet and Weight
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA - Health Issues for Aging Populations
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA - International Nutrition
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA - Methods in Biostatistics I
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA - Methods in Biostatistics II
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA - Principles of Human Nutrition
TUFTS University, USA - Nutrition and Medicine
TUFTS University, USA - Lipids/Cardiovascular Disease I and Lipids/Cardiovascular Disease II
Technical Learning College, USA - Western Herbology, Identification, Formulas
Bath University, England - Inside Cancer
WebMD - The Link Between Stroke and Atrial Fibrillation
LeanMachine has now read thousands of studies, journals and reports related to health and nutrition and this research is ongoing.
Updated 11th December 2016, Copyright © 1999-2017 Brenton Wight and BJ & HJ Wight trading as Lean Machine abn 55293601285