Sometimes, things have unintended consequences. We are all familiar with the medication commercials that show smiling people doing wonderful active things with loved ones…and the voiceover at the end of the commercial with someone speaking almost too quickly to make out, informing you that this miraculous drug can cause suicidal thoughts, heart problems, fainting and susceptibility to dangerous infection, etc! Those are prescription drugs, and the FDA has forced drug companies to include such warnings.
Though all medications have side effects because we simply have not yet figured out how to target only the receptors we want to target, there are no such disclosure requirements by the FDA for over the counter medications. This blog is full of the dangerous side effects of NSAIDS like Motrin and Ibuprofen, but a new study revealed a startling side effect for the over the counter drug Acetaminophen, which is the active ingredient in Tylenol.
The study out of Ohio State University Department of Psychology set out to test Acetaminophen’s Effects on Evaluation Sensitivity. They conducted two experiments to test whether acetaminophen blunted individuals evaluations of, and reactions to, both negative and positive images. One group was given a placebo and the other acetaminophen. The results of the study showed that the Acetaminophen group evaluated negative stimulus less negatively, and positive stimulus less positively, and found both positive and negative images less emotionally arousing. Interestingly, the medicated group and the non-medicated group had no difference in non-evaluative observations like color saturation, suggesting that acetaminophen has a general blunting effect on evaluative and emotional processing. Whow!
The upshot? Well, to repeat…all medications have side effects. Unlike NSAIDS, research has shown that Tylenol appears to work better with nerves and neurotransmitters, and we’ve noticed that it works much more effectively on nerve pain. However, it turns out that Tylenol blunts more than your nerve pain!