Posted on: May 20, 2016 at 10:39 am
Last updated: August 3, 2019 at 1:28 pm

Tylenol is one of the most common painkillers in the world. It can be used to treat minor pain, such as headaches and muscle soreness, or more serious conditions such as arthritis or fevers. There have been many negative side effects associated with the use of Tylenol, with many studies showing that it can dull the brain’s response to certain stimulus.


One recent study revealed another shocking effect that Tylenol has on your brain, that was it’s ability to dull feelings of empathy towards people in pain.

Tylenol and Empathy



The study was conducted by researchers at the Ohio State University. They examined the effects that acetaminophen, the main ingredient in Tylenol, had on participants who were learning about the misfortunes of others.

The researchers found that participants who had taken acetaminophen thought these individuals who were experiencing misfortune were in less pain and suffering compared to participants who had not taken the painkiller. According to Dominik Mischkowski, co-author of the study and a former Ph.D. student at Ohio State, this suggests that Tylenol causes people to lack empathy.

“These findings suggest other people’s pain doesn’t seem as big of a deal to you when you’ve taken acetaminophen,” Mischkowski says. “Acetaminophen can reduce empathy as well as serve as a painkiller.”

The study consisted of two experiments. Participants for the first experiment consisted of 80 college students, half of which drank a liquid containing 1000 mg of acetaminophen, while the other half drank a placebo liquid with no drugs in it. The study was a blind experiment, meaning the participants did not know which group they were in.


Then, an hour after consuming the painkiller, participants read descriptions of eight different scenarios where individuals were experiencing pain or suffering. Scenarios included anecdotes about people suffering physical pain, such as a knife cut that reached down to the bone, and emotional pain, such as someone experiencing the death of a family member.

Participants were then asked to rate the pain they believe each person experienced from 1 (no pain at all) to 5 (worst pain possible). In general, the participants who had taken acetaminophen rated the pain of the individuals in these scenarios as less severe compared to the group that didn’t take the painkiller.

The second experiment’s participants consisted of 114 college students that were, like in the first experiment, split up into two groups, one take acetaminophen and the other taking a placebo.

After the painkiller kicked in, participants then received two, four-second blasts of white noise that ranged from 75 to 105 decibels. They then rated the unpleasantness that the noise caused them on a scale of 1 to 10. They were then asked to rate how much pain that they believe this noise blast would cause to another, anonymous study participant.

The results showed that participants who had taken the acetaminophen rated the pain as less unpleasant for themselves and also believed it would be less unpleasant for others, compared to the group that took a placebo.

“Acetaminophen reduced the pain they felt, but it also reduced their empathy for others who were experiencing the same noise blasts,” Mischkowski explains.

This proves that, although Tylenol can reduce physical pain, it can also dull feelings of empathy towards pain other people may be experiencing.These findings are disturbing, especially considering that a lack of empathy is a primary trait for many psychological conditions including narcissistic personality disorder.

This significant decrease in empathy suggests that there is a need for natural, painkilling alternatives that do not provide such extreme changes in psychological behaviour.

Natural Tylenol Alternatives

Most people take Tylenol to relieve common forms of pain such as headaches and muscle cramps. It does this by raising the body’s pain threshold, meaning that, although one is technically experiencing the same amount of pain, they feel less of it. This shows that Tylenol doesn’t really fix the problem, it simply numbs your body to the symptoms this problem is causing.

Most people don’t know that common pain such as headaches and muscle cramps is usually caused by a mineral deficiencies, specifically magnesium. Several studies have linked headaches and muscle pain to a magnesium deficiency, and one even found that consuming magnesium helped relieve cluster headaches, which are generally considered to be the most painful type of headache.

Foods that are high in magnesium include spinach, almonds, chard, dark chocolate, fish, beans, avocados and many more natural, delicious meals. For more pain-relieving, Tylenol alternatives, click here.



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