A drug is a drug whether it is purchased with a prescription or sold directly to you, the consumer, over the counter.

OTC’s treat a variety of illnesses and their symptoms. There’s something for everything that ails ya…

  • Pain
  • Itches
  • Coughs
  • Colds
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Acne
  • Athlete’s foot
  • Allergies
  • Migraines

And the list goes on and on, but make no mistake–over-the-counter (OTC) medications are indeed drugs. In fact, millions are dependent upon them.

The OTC industry is enormous. There are more than 80 classes of OTC drugs, and these are serious medications that need to be considered carefully.

In general, the consumer thinks OTC’s are safe because they do not require a prescription, but before you fill up your shopping basket with nonprescription drugs, let’s consider some of the risks.

First of all, OTC’s can definitely interfere with prescription meds. This can make them less effective, OR it can create serious side effects.

Few people realize that OTC pain meds shouldn’t be used with many heart, liver, kidney or stomach problems. A large majority of them should not be taken if you are pregnant. Also, an OTC should always be discussed with the pharmacist or your doctor about any potential contraindications with your prescriptions or existing conditions.

Legal medications, both prescriptions and OTC’s are the most common of abused drugs. Many are addictive and can cause serious damage if not taken correctly.

There are several factors to consider when you are considering using an OTC. First, why are you thinking about using it? Have you done your research on this drug, have you read the label, dosing instructions, and the ingredient list?

A common issue that is rarely considered is that many OTC medications treat multiple symptoms. For example, a cough medicine might treat a cough, but also a headache and runny nose. It is vital that you read and understand the label and ONLY use an OTC that treats your specific symptoms.

More is not better!

Not understanding the label of an OTC can result in double dosing, overdosing, and serious side effects as a result of mixing various OTC’s since they may contain some of the same ingredients. Also, it can result in taking unnecessary medications for symptoms you don’t even have!

This is why you should NEVER mix OCT’s and prescription meds without comparing all the ingredients. You also need to cross reference for possible adverse reactions with supplements and herbs.

You must also be sure to never give an adult strength to children or this can result in an overdose. Be certain to use a proper measuring tool, often there is one included.

Check the expiration dates. However, never flush any drugs down the toilet! Why? Because this will recycle in the water supply, whether municipal or well, and return as toxic, polluted tap water. Also, don’t throw out where pets or kids can find them.

Now, let’s take a look at a nearly 20 billion dollar annual cash cow for the OTC industry–NSAIDS. I’m talking about non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

These are drugs you can buy without a prescription to help reduce pain. Problem is, they can make other health conditions worse…

  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motril, Midol)
  • Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn)

While they produce fewer side effects than prescription corticosteroids, they can still harm the stomach and cause gas, diarrhea, heartburn, nausea, or constipation. In fact, they can irritate the stomach lining to the point of causing an ulcer and cause internal bleeding, abdominal pain, dark tarry stools, and blood in the stools.

Anyone who has ever had stomach issues in the past should never take NSAIDS. Also, if you take prescription blood thinners or corticosteroids, you should not take them either.

Fact is, NSAIDS increase your risk of heart attacks, strokes and clots. Cardio disease is a high risk with NSAID use, and it can also lead to ringing in the ears, blurry vision, rashes, blood in the urine, racing heart, and jaundice.

The problem is, most people using OTC’s do not connect the dots of their symptoms to the use of these non-prescription drugs. They simply write OTC’s off as totally safe since they do not require a prescription.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

One of the most dangerous and most commonly used pain killer is Tylenol aka acetaminophen, by Johnson & Johnson. This is also taken for fever relief. Since it is not an NSAID, some docs think it is safer without doing their homework.

Nearly 500 die each year from Tylenol use, and another 30,000 are hospitalized in the US from its well established but seldom discussed toxic side effects. Add to that another 50,000 ER visits and 100,000 poison control center calls.

So, what’s the deal with acetaminophen? In short, it is very toxic to the liver, even at standard dosing. When it metabolizes, it releases toxic chemicals. It is the cause of 46% of all acute liver failures in the US.

You are probably wondering why such a dangerous OTC drug remains on the market…? Multi. Billion. Dollar. Product.

They continue to push the false narrative of its safety, but the truth is, Tylenol is deadly.

Half a century ago, this drug became associated with suicide attempts. In 2016, a class action lawsuit with over 100 plaintiffs claimed that Tylenol caused liver damage and death.

It also has serious neurological and psychiatric impacts and contributes to autism disorder, ADD, and blunts emotional responses by flattening human empathy. Many of these neurological and psychiatric effects have resulted from a single 1000 mg dose.

Still plan on finishing off that bottle of acetaminophen in your medicine cabinet? You might want to reconsider and at least reach for a safer choice.

There are some natural alternatives to toxic OTC pain killers. Turmeric boswellia is one for pain and inflammation. Also, white willow bark contains salicin which is natural aspirin. It helps reduce inflammation, fevers, and pain.

At the very least, opt for plain old generic aspirin, without all the toxic additives. Just aspirin.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
            ~Benjamen Franklin

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