5 Ways Tylenol Can Harm Your Children
With regards to children’s healthcare, and the healthcare of anyone in our western population, for that matter, administering medications for each symptom or discomfort or dis-ease state has become the standard of care. The use of medications has been seen to manage and sometimes cure our broken bodies and make life more confortable. People who are able to afford medications are even being envied by those who cannot afford or do not have access to the drugs they believe will help them.
In this day and age, with the rise in the prevalence of ADHD, autism, autoimmunity, infection, sleep disorders, mood disorders, and Type 2 Diabetes in our youth, we would be hard-pressed to find many children who have not been on or is not currently regularly taking medication for some condition or another.
Now, there are kids who need certain medications as their challenges go beyond their body’s natural ability to heal due to irreversible damage or accidents or challenges from birth. And you may be reading this thinking, not my child. She only takes Tylenol for fevers and ibuprofin for her headaches and during soccer practice when her knees are bothering her. So, you may think this article is not for you. But wait! It is exactly those medications we’ll be exploring here, the ones we parents often consider benign.
A Legacy of Pain Mismanagement
Recently, my grandmother had a very long 3-month ordeal in the hospital. To make a long story short, in order to get her out alive and intact, we intervened on every level of care, including that of the medications she was being administered.
It was a life-changing event for her as she went into the hospital from her assisted living apartment to coming out into a nursing home. But it was not all roses when she was living on her own, either. She was on a laundry list of medications no one was really monitoring while she lived away from family, including daily narcotics and other medications that were dangerous for her considering her personal weaknesses, conditions, lifestyle and nutrition choices, genetics, and medication interactions. And some of those medications were just plain unnecessary. When we questioned this during her stay in the hospital, many of the doctors we saw shrugged and said that she was 90, what did we expect? Pain management was the ultimate goal because she wouldn’t live much longer, anyway.
But the real kicker was that her pain was NOT managed in any way. With her 2-page long list of medications, nothing was helping with her excruciating knee pain (which turned out to have been amplified by the opiates) that caused her to become less and less mobile throughout the months that led up to this cascade of health decline:
…using a wheelchair to get everywhere that led to
…sitting too much that led to
… weakness and falls and infection and congenital heart failure
…you see where I am going with this?
It could have led to death, which it fortunately did not.
Throwing medications at discomfort can teach us to reach for the seemingly quick fix, to cover up, and to ignore root cases but does not serve us or our families in the end.
So, my questions for the doctors remained:
Pain and disease management at what cost?
Aren’t there other ways to manage pain or disease that don’t cause other side effects or damage organs?
What was pain, anyway, was she feeling discomfort or was it true pain? Could she tell the difference, anymore?
Well, I already knew the answers to those questions, and we took action and reduced her medications. Using methods such as massage and physiotherapy and aromatherapy and major nutritional adjustments and basic supplements, she has no more knee pain. Remarkable, considering that she had lived with this pain for as long as I can remember. It is what led to the severe loss of her mobility in the first place. Ironically, assessing her pain, where is was coming from, what kind of pain it was, assessing if some of the medications were actually causing further complications, reducing her medications and stopping many of them altogether has given her her life back. Literally.
Simply put, we had to stop, look at all of the pieces of the puzzle, listen to her body, and my grandma had to re-learn to do that, as well.
How Do “Benign” Medications Like Tylenol Harm Your Child?
My grandmother’s story is all too common. Our grandparents cry out for help, our children lay on couches or in beds thermometer sticking out of their mouths, pale or flushed, sometimes holding their heads in pain or burning up with fever. We want it to stop. We want to fix them. We don’t want our loved ones to be in pain. Our instincts as caregivers is to want to take that pain or discomfort away, but is that always the best idea, and are our methods always the best ones to employ?
So, let’s get to the reasons why “benign” medications are not, ever, “benign.”
1. Numbing the pain is not always good. Sometimes our children need to feel what is happening in their body so they can understand and help you understand the type, root, source, and cause of the discomfort. They can then ask the questions: What is it? AND Why is it happening? What is my body trying to tell me? They learn to listen to their bodies and can communicate their findings with us, and then we can use the appropriate course of action to address the cause.
2. Medicating for pain interferes with your child’s body’s natural immune response, and because of its suppressive nature, dumbs down the body’s own natural intelligence. With a confused immune system, your child’s body can actually mount a more severe attack on the source of the discomfort requiring more medication, or it can forget how to mount an attack at all the next time. It is imperative to modulate a healthy immune system as it is what will protect your child from infection and toxicity (which requires an active, appropriately responsive immune system) and prevent the onset of autoimmunity (an inappropriately overactive immune system that attacks its own tissues thinking they are foreign invaders).
3. Every medication depletes your child’s body of essential nutrients. Tylenol in particular, depletes the antioxidants Coenzyme Q10 (which is essential for heart, oral, and stomach health) and glutathione (which is the master antioxidant). Other medications can deplete minerals and B vitamins. Why is this important? If you think about oxidation, think about an apple rotting or aging. Oxidation is basically your internal apple turning brown. Antioxidants protect your child’s body from this process, detoxify, and fend off free-radicals which damage proteins and enzymes and genetic material. Protect your child’s protectors, because in our current world, there are plenty of other assaults by way of chemicals and metals and poor quality food that they have to contend with.
4. Even “benign” medications can cause organ damage, and it has been proven that Tylenol is toxic to the liver, in particular. Yes, this damage is more prevalent and likely if there is a prolonged use, but given the fact that children’s bodies are so sensitive and are still developing, extreme caution should be employed because even the occasional but consistent use should be carefully considered. Add up all the fevers, aches, pains, and bumps your children get throughout the year, and you may be surprised about how many opportunities there are to use medications.
5. Tylenol is chock full of unhealthy ingredients. If you have become a label reader (which I highly encourage you do), just have a look at the “other ingredients” from a bottle of Children’s Liquid Tylenol. Anhydrous citric acid, Butyl paraben, F, D, & C red dye # 40, flavors, glycerin, high fructose corn syrup, microcrystalline cellulose, carboxymethylo sodium, propylene glycol, purified water, sodium benzoate, sorbitol, sucralose, and xanthan gum.
A word about a couple of these ingredients:
Parabens are endocrine disruptors, meaning that they disrupt the endocrine (hormone) system and are shown to cause cancer.
Food dyes are a common allergen for children, and many children who have been labeled ADHD or have brain fog, learning difficulties, and mood and behavior problems have been discovered to have food dye allergies. There are many documented cases where a child was taken off of food dyes, and their whole life changed – they got along with siblings, had a better time of learning, were invited to birthday parties, again, were able to be in social situations. Can you imagine the impact that a simple discovery like this can have on a child’s entire experience in this life? And this garbage is in our medicine?
High fructose corn syrup is a cheap, highly processed sugar that is, for lack of better scientific terms, poison for the body and harmful to your child’s brain. Eating this “food” on a regular basis is detrimental to your child’s health and can cause a myriad of health problems including Type 2 Diabetes, brain degeneration, behavioral problems, mood problems, learning disabilities, the list goes on and on. Being that it is a highly processed sugar, it also suppresses the immune system. Yep, double whammy on the immune system here. This ingredient is also found in thousands of “food” products that litter our super market shelves. (Please see my previous blog about the health concerns regarding sugar.)
And the rest of the ingredients are equally harmful, except, maybe, the water. (See a future blog dedicated to exploring these ingredients coming soon.)
Let Your Child’s Body Do Its Job
OK, so if Tylenol and medications like Tylenol are not an option, what tools do we have? I am here to tell you: LOTS!
First, if your child is in pain or has a fever, don’t panic. Fever is the body’s immune system ridding itself of an invader. In order to prevent this sense of panic, educate yourself and stock your natural remedies toolkit, not your medicine cabinet. But if you are scared, remind yourself that you have the wisdom and the ability to care for your kids. Take a breath and assess the situation before you act. Listen to what is going on, and resist the urge to silence the symptoms.
If your child is ill, let them rest. Rest is the simplest thing to do but is the most important, regardless of its simplicity.
If your child is in pain, use appropriate methods such as hot or cold therapies, changing position, movement, meditation, breathing, etc., to also help alleviate their discomfort before reaching for the medication.
Educate yourself about therapies such as homeopathy, essential oils, massage, and herbal teas that work with your child’s body and not against it so that you can know enough to use them at home.
Give your child plenty of fluids. Fluids will flush and replenish and are needed for every process in your child’s body.
Build your child’s body with the right nutrition tools. Nutrients are the fuel your child’s body runs on, and it is imperative that s/he has what s/he needs to repair and then maintain. Nutrition is key.
Within reason, allow your child’s illness take its course. It is important to let them build their immune system in order for them to become stronger for the next assault.
Seriously consider your family’s use of over the counter medications. Your children can become better aware, more empowered, and better educated about their needs and how to handle health challenges when they are taught to listen to their bodies and use the tools that will strengthen and enliven them while preparing them for their future challenges.
And never be alone, know that most every parent out there has been through times like this with their children. Use our Children’s and Teen Health Community Facebook page to reach out to other parents for support.
May you and your children be well!
References: Thank you to Wendi Combes for an excellent discussion during our Second Biannual Children’s and Teen Health Summit about natural home remedies and the use of Tylenol! More of her expeertise can be found through her course, Parent’s Guide to Natural Home Remedies!