Chronic pain is a way of life for millions of Americans, and many risk addiction by resorting to dangerous opioids to ease their suffering. Even those who are willing to risk addiction are finding painkillers harder to get as doctors cut down on the amounts of opioids they prescribe. Other desperate victims of chronic pain opt for over-the-counter relief, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil). But in addition to often being less effective, taking just slightly more than the recommended amount can have devastating consequences.
A recent study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) raised the risk of a heart attack as soon as one week after beginning their use, especially in higher doses. The medications include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cambia), celecoxib (Celebrex), and naproxen (Midol, Aleve).
A Scottish study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found that taking large doses of Tylenol over a period of time, even at recommended levels, can build up in the system and cause life-threatening liver damage. In addition to liver damage, ibuprofen can also cause gastrointestinal bleeding.
The answer to chronic pain, especially lower back pain and pulled muscles and ligaments, may be comfrey, an herb that's been used for thousands of years in topical ointments to ease pain.
"Comfrey is an effective pain killer that can be used to treat any kind of pain," says nationally recognized pain expert Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, author of Pain Free 1-2-3! "Comfrey cream can be rubbed on wherever you hurt, and it works immediately — within seconds."