Do you take popular painkillers like Tylenol or Excedrin? Then you’re putting acetaminophen in your body.
This might help relieve your head/body aches or even fevers. But it might also have an unintended side effect.
That’s because acetaminophen, the most-popular drug ingredient in America, was shown in a new study to decrease a person’s sense of empathy.
Empathy is our ability to step into the shoes of another person. It can help us understand their feelings and perspectives … and to use this understanding to guide our own actions.
Being able to empathize is a core characteristic that defines us as human. It allows us to live in a society where the betterment of the whole community reigns paramount.
However, researchers at The Ohio State University saw a unique reaction when participants who took acetaminophen learned about the misfortunes of others.
They observed that these individuals experienced less pain and suffering, when compared to those who took no painkiller.
"These findings suggest other people’s pain doesn’t seem as big of a deal to you when you’ve taken acetaminophen," said Dominik Mischkowski, co-author of the study and a former Ph.D. student at Ohio State, now at the National Institutes of Health.
"Acetaminophen can reduce empathy as well as serve as a painkiller."
So not only does this drug reduce your sense of physical pain, but also your ability to share the pain of others.
This is a fascinating discovery because the two mechanisms at play here previously would have been totally uncorrelated.
You can find acetaminophen in more than 600 over-the-counter and prescription drugs in the U.S. Click here for a fact sheet from the National Institutes of Health.
Why exactly would this happen? Well, the researchers aren’t exactly sure yet.
"We don’t know why acetaminophen is having these effects, but it is concerning," writes Baldwin Way, the senior author of the study.
Way also notes that …
"Empathy is important. If you are having an argument with your spouse and you just took acetaminophen, this research suggests you might be less understanding of what you did to hurt your spouse’s feelings."
Found in over 600 medications, acetaminophen is the top-selling drug in America. You might even have some in your medicine cabinet right now, with familiar names like Nyquil, Robitussin, Sudafed, Midol, Vicks or Vicodin.
The majority of people seek out these products for pain relief — not to alter their emotions. So these new findings are certainly cause for concern.
And that’s on top of the harmful side effects that are consistent with acetaminophen. Specifically, the damage it can do to liver.
So if you are in need of a pain reliever, consider whether short-term relief is worth risking longer-term damage.
More natural and homeopathic pain remedies include:
Curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric)
Cissus quadrangularis extract
Passion fruit (Passiflora edulis) (Seed) extract
Boswellia serrata extract (AprèsFlex®)
Do you personally use Tylenol or any other acetaminophen-containing products?
If so, does this new research make you reconsider acetaminophen use at all?
Please let us know by leaving a comment in the comment section below.
Happy and Healthy Investing,