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Minimizing Damage from Over the Counter Pain Medicine - Zesty Ginger
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Today, we wanted to address a very commonly asked question: how to take over the counter pain medicines–like ibuprofen and tylenol–while minimizing some of the damage they have on the body.

Most ladies in our community like to stick to natural options and there are lots of alternative to pain medications out there.

The application of topic essential oils (we love a blend of peppermint, camphor, lavender, and cinnamon…it’s icy hot in the crunchy form!), stretching exercises, and ice/heat application are all great ways to beat aches and pains naturally. (See this post about tension headaches here if that’s your main problem.)

But sometimes, you just need to break out the big guns when nothing else is working.

While not everyone agrees with us, but we tend to have a very pragmatic approach to all different treatment options.

After all, we’re all about having a BIGGER toolbox of things to help you out rather than a smaller one.

(Quick note: Please note: always talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new supplements.)


There are a couple important points when we talk about ibuprofen/NSAIDs.

For one, studies have shown that doses greater than 600 mg are not any more effective for dealing with pain.  Therefore, 600 mg (or 3 200mg capsules) is the most we’ll ever take.

Liquid capsule forms of ibuprofen work the best since they reach the circulation in around 9 minutes.  But because of all of the additives that make it formulated to be liquid, we tend to not break out that form unless we really need something quick.

To minimize the gut damage from ibuprofen, we take it with 1 g of L-glutamine and a dose of collagen powder.

One of the dreaded side effects of NSAIDs is that the cumulative lifetime dose will determine how much kidney damage accrues. This is a very rare occurrence…but does happen with people who have taken daily NSAIDs for a long period of time.

For that reason, we always make sure to stay very well hydrated when we’re taking some sort of NSAID. Though the medication will still slightly diminish blood flow to the kidneys (which is how the damage happens over time), being well hydrated will counteract this decrease fairly well.



Tylenol is a funny medication in that it goes from being pretty mild to fairly toxic in a narrow window.

Most importantly, it is crucial to never go over 3 grams of tylenol in a 24 hour period. Even so, we generally aim to be under 2500 mg. (A regular tab is 325 mg and an extra strength tylenol is 500 mg.)  

To minimize the liver damage that tylenol can cause, we take it with 500 mg of N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC). Occasionally, we’ll even take a second dose of 500 mg NAC to give our liver some extra help.


Treating Pain with a Multi-Modal Approach

The concept of “multi-modal pain control” is a hot button subject right now in medicine.  It is based on the premise that using several different medicines (with different mechanisms of action in the body) in smaller doses so that they can synergistically treat the underlying condition.

Using this approach for ourselves, we tend to incorporate both the crunchy pain relieving options with low doses of the conventional medications.

It allows us to enjoy the benefits of all of the different options out there while still minimizing any damage. (As you know, the crunchy options have side effects as well sometimes!)


Digging Deeper

This discussion is part of a much larger picture of overall detox health. Your ability to process compounds while supporting your body is CRUCIAL for how you react to your surroundings and the amount of health you enjoy.

If you’re ready to make your body optimized to take on anything, join us for our Love Your Liver Seasonal Detox. It kicks off November 2nd and is going to be an amazing collection of like-minded women!



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