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New Study Shows Tylenol Ease Fear, Anxiety and Dread


The results of a new study done at the University of British Columbia suggest there may be a commonly available drug that can be taken to reduce feelings of “existential angst.” The researchers discovered that a side-effect of the mild analgesic and fever reducer Tylenol is the easing of fear, anxiety and feelings of dread. The active ingredient in Tylenol is acetaminophen.

The full findings of the study were published under the title “The Common Pain of Surrealism and Death” in the journal of the Association of Psychological Science called Psychological Science.

According to lead author of the study, Daniel Randles, “Pain exists in many forms, including the distress that people feel when they are exposed to thoughts of existential uncertainty or death. Our study suggests that these anxieties may be processed as ‘pain’ by the brain- but Tylenol seems to inhibit the signal telling the brain that something wrong.” That’s a pretty good explanation if you ask me.

In order to test this theory, the UBC researchers asked participants to take acetaminophen or a placebo pill which is just sugar. They subsequently viewed a surrealist movie entitled Rabbits by David Lynch or write about death and then consider crimes ranging from rioting to prostitution. Compared to the placebo control group, those who took Tylenol were better able to cope with troubling concepts. The research team measured the severity of fines assigned to the crimes they were required to evaluate after exposure to “disturbing material”.

The study involved approximately 350 subjects who were given either a placebo or two extra-strength Tylenols. The team observed a “consistent and robust trend”: Those who had consumed the painkillers were less upset after viewing unsettling films or considering death.

Randles went on to say this drug which is utilized mainly “to alleviate headaches may also numb people to the worry of thoughts of their deaths, or to the uneasiness of watching a surrealist film- is a surprising and very interesting finding”. Randles co-authored the study along Professor Steven Heine and another undergraduate researcher. They believe the drug affected an area of the brain that deals with uncertainty and anxiety known as the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex.

The researchers stressed that the study was not designed to be clinical or to determine whether the drug should be considered an accepted treatment for anxiety.

Tylenol should be used in moderation as excessive doses or even prolonged usage can cause liver problems to occur. It should never be taken with alcohol and should only be taken as directed on the label or by a doctor. People with liver problems should avoid taking it and take something else instead.


Source: O’Connor, Elaine. “UBC Study Shows Tylenol Eases Fear, Anxiety and Dread.” The Province. 17 Apr. 2013. Web. 09 May 2013.

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Kevin Giles is a product of Santa Cruz, CA – the stoner capitol of the world. A born again Christian, Kevin loves his Lord Jesus and believes that his purpose in life is determined by God. He first entered drug recovery at the age of 19, suffering from an addiction to marijuana. He is a recent graduate of the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, where he earned his Master’s degree in Christian Ministry. Passionate about God’s Word, he aspires to become a pastor or missionary. Kevin has also earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from California State University, Monterey Bay. His interests include traveling, movies, golf, fitness and reading. He also enjoys being outdoors as well as spending time with friends and family. Kevin’s faith, education and life experience give him a unique perspective on addiction, recovery and spirituality.

Filed under: Alcohol and Drugs, Research · Tags: anxiety, fear, Tylenol is operated by Recovery Brands LLC, a subsidiary of American Addiction Centers, Inc.
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