Gut Health

4 Ways OTC Pain Relievers Are Bad For Your Gut Health

When you have achy muscles, joint pain, or a fever, do you turn to over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen or acetaminophen? If so, you probably don’t think twice about taking them. After all, they’ve been around forever, and the truth is that they work!

But, despite the perceived effectiveness, it turns out that these drugs can do lasting damage to your intestines and cause extreme imbalances in your gut bacteria. And having an imbalanced and unhealthy gut over a long period can result in a wide variety of health disturbances and problems.

If you currently take any kind of OTC painkiller, listen up: it’s time to pay some attention to your gut.

Americans Take a Lot of Pain Meds

According to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, oral pain medications rank third on the list of most commonly used OTC drugs in America, topping $4.9 million in sales in 2023 alone (not including online sales). In fact, a recent study found that 82% of Americans took OTC painkillers during an average 30-day study period! 

This OTC drug family includes:

  • acetaminophen (commonly sold as Tylenol)
  • ibuprofen (commonly sold as Motrin and Advil)
  • naproxen (commonly sold as Aleve)
  • aspirin

All of the above—except for acetaminophen—fall into the category of NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.) It’s been widely known that NSAIDs can cause all sorts of GI distress, from stomach pain to diarrhea to bleeding ulcers. Now, scientists are becoming more aware of how NSAIDs also have the ability to disrupt the gut microbiome, cause dysbiosis (an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the gut), and injure the protective gut barrier.

Potential GI problems are the key reason why some people turn to acetaminophen over NSAIDs; they think it’s safer. And while acetaminophen doesn’t cause the same kind of GI upset, it too has the potential to take a terrible toll on your gut microbiome.

All OTC Pain Medications Disturb Your Gut Health

No matter which brand of OTC pain reliever you grab off the shelf, taking it will negatively impact your gut health in one of the following 4 ways.

1. Harm to the Gut Barrier

All drugs with acetaminophen negatively impact your gut barrier. New research shows that drugs with that active constituent disrupt the gut barrier and “dramatically increase gut leakiness.

2. Harm to the Gut Bacteria

As previously stated, all NSAIDs disrupt your gut microbiome. However, it’s important to note that each type of NSAID impacts different bacteria. In fact, according to a recent study, researchers can tell which drug you’ve taken based on your gut bacteria (weird, but true). They can even tell if you’ve taken the painkillers alone or in combination with other medications. But in every case, harmful bacteria populations increased.

3. Higher Frequency = More Challenges

The more often you take OTC pain medications, the higher your risk of developing dysbiosis – a condition where harmful bacteria (pathogens) vastly outnumber beneficial bacteria (probiotics) in your gut microbiome. 

4. Vicious OTC Pain Med Cycle

Here’s where things can get really messy. Pathogenic bacteria and the compounds they produce – including lipopolysaccharides, or LPS toxins – cause inflammation in your gut. They also attack and damage the protective lining inside the gut. That gut barrier has a crucial job: Keeping pathogens and toxins inside the gut and out of the bloodstream.

When the gut barrier gets beat up, LPS toxins and other harmful compounds can escape into your bloodstream, circulating throughout your body and attacking tissues and organs. This “toxic streaming” as it is known can have far-reaching health consequences that may include everything from fatigue to brain fog  to joint pain.

Additionally, toxic streaming can increase inflammation all over the body. This in turn often leads to you reaching for more OTC pain relievers… which can increase toxic streaming… And the vicious cycle continues!

You can see how each problem aggravates the other. But there is a way to interrupt that negative cycle and support the health and protection of your body: Sustain a healthy gut microbiome and encourage a strong gut barrier.

Taking Pain Pills? You Must Protect Your Gut

If you occasionally need to take OTC pain and fever relievers, fear not. You can help your gut microbiome stay in healthy balance – The trick is to make sure your gut gets a daily supply of reinforcements that support the growth of beneficial bacteria… and that means taking probiotics.

Unfortunately, most commercial probiotic supplements don’t make it to the gut alive. In fact, the vast majority of probiotic products arrive in your gut DOA. And if the bacteria aren’t alive when they arrive where they’re needed, they can’t provide any support.

That’s where spore probiotics come in. Nature has equipped spore probiotics with an endospore shell – A special, armor-like coating that allows the spore probiotics to survive extreme temperatures (like body heat), stomach acid, and all the other hazards they’ll encounter during digestion.

Once the spore probiotics make it into your gut, they put down their shells and spring into action. They travel from one of your gut to the other, claiming territory and crowding out pathogens so that other beneficial bacteria can flourish. Spore probiotics also produce compounds (such as short chain fatty acids) that fortify the gut barrier, and support its health and protection. 

Keep Your Gut Healthy with Just Thrive Probiotic

Maintain healthy balance and diversity in your gut microbiome with Just Thrive Probiotic. Giving your gut a fresh supply of spore probiotics every day helps beneficial bacteria flourish, which is vital for overall vibrant health.

Just Thrive Probiotic contains a clinically studied blend of four powerful, proprietary spore probiotics:

  • Bacillus subtilis HU58
  • Bacillus indicus HU36
  • Bacillus coagulans
  • Bacillus clausii

Together, these strains provide comprehensive support for your gut. Each of the four proven spore probiotics supports a healthy, balanced gut microbiome and an optimally strong gut barrier function.

Try Just Thrive Probiotic today!