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Do not take Acetaminophen/Tylenol with respiratory illness/fevers

Leslie Sheridan
Mar 14 · 3 min read

Edited to add: Since the WHO is recommending to NOT take ibuprofen and DO take acetaminophen (I don’t agree) it seems the most sensible approach is not to take *anything* if your fever is mild and manageable.

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I really do not know why the medical community is recommending that if folks get sick with Covid-19 (Corona virus) they should be taking products with acetaminophen. That is a dangerous recommendation, in my opinion.

I’m a veterinarian, not an MD. So, if your MD has recommended acetaminophen for you, please have a conversation with him/her.

Acetaminophen use results in consumption of glutathione which is our body’s strongest natural anti-oxidant. Glutathione protects our cells from damage. Acetaminophen depletes glutathione and allows for more damage by the inflammatory cascade.

Research is telling us that people who die from Covid-19 have elevated markers for inflammation. A ‘cytokine’ storm, you might have heard it called.

The following study showed that normal doses of acetaminophen resulted in a decrease in respiratory glutathione (which is all the evidence I need to NOT take acetaminophen:)

Here’s the simple breakdown:

  • Infection triggers our immune system
  • Our immune system fights infection in a variety of very complex ways
  • When our immune system ‘over-does it’ — there are bad chemicals produced that damage cells
  • Glutathione is our body’s built-in safety net to protect our cells from those bad chemicals
  • Acetaminophen depletes glutathione

Here’s the physiology/science-y stuff:

Acetaminophen is broken down in our bodies by several different mechanisms. One of the pathways (Cytochrome P450) breaks it down into a toxic substance called NAPQI. Our body gets rid of NAPQI by our ever-useful and favorite anti-oxidant, glutathione.

We veterinarians are familiar with this because acetaminophen kills cats. Cats have some funky pathways for breaking it down and a small dose of acetaminophen results in complete depletion of glutathione. NAPQI kills liver cells and cats get very sick, very quickly. We treat cats with acetaminophen toxicity by supporting the liver and two specific medications:

1) N-acetylcysteine (increases production of glutathione)

2) Vitamin C

You have likely heard that Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant. Both Vitamin C and Glutathione reduce the cellular damage from oxidative chemicals.

Oxidative cell damage and cytokine storm go hand-in-hand. If we want to limit the severity of the damage by Covid-19, we must support our body’s ability to withstand the effects of these ‘bad’ chemicals.

Our primary defense is Glutathione. So, don’t deplete it with acetaminophen, ok?

Vitamin C is present in high concentrations in white blood cells and is rapidly utilized during infection. Studies suggest that our body needs more Vitamin C in the face of an infection.

Oral Vitamin C can cause diarrhea, so you have to be careful with how much you take.

IV Vitamin C can actually help protect our cells AND possibly kill the virus. We’ve been using IV Vitamin C in septic (septic = overwhelming infection) animals for a very long time.

And a few years ago, an internist treated a dying septic human patient with IV Vitamin C and she lived. Since then, many clinical trials have been under way and the doctors in Wuhan, China are currently using IV Vitamin C to treat this nasty Covid-19 virus.

The takeaways:

1) Don’t take Acetaminophen

2) Do take Vitamin C

IF you do get really sick with a really high fever — ask to be treated with IV Vitamin C. It can’t hurt you and it could very much save your life.

If you needed more evidence, here you go:

This next study showed that normal doses of acetaminophen may be responsible for the increase in asthma in the recent past:

“It has been hypothesized that APAP, due to its increased usage and pro-oxidant properties, has contributed to the 2-fold increase in asthma prevalence that has occurred since 1980. These results support this hypothesis by indicating that APAP, at doses approximating the therapeutic dose of 15 mg/kg, depletes airway GSH (glutathione) and modulates acute respiratory responses.

Leslie Sheridan

Written by

Veterinarian, Professor, Adoptive Mom

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