Why You Should Avoid These Five Dangerous Over the Counter Meds

Most people assume that over the counter drugs are very safe. After all, why would they be available for sale without a prescription if they weren’t safe? And for the most part they’re right. With the exception of a few people who use them recreationally, are allergic, or are more susceptible to the side effects, these drugs are safe.

For ordinary consumers however, serious problems arise when these drugs are taken for long periods of time; often in an attempt to treat chronic conditions. Given their accessibility they may seem safe for long-term use, but these drugs are anything but, and there’s plenty of evidence to prove it. The drugs below in particular, are among the most dangerous over the counter medications.


Over the past few years multiple studies have raised the alarm over ibuprofen (more commonly known as Advil) and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are often used to reduce pain, inflammation, and fever. It turns out that this class of drugs may cause serious heart conditions. The latest study to suggest this comes from Denmark and was recently published in the European Heart Journal. After following 29,000 people over the course of nine years, the study found that people who take ibuprofen have a 31% higher chance of suffering cardiac arrest.


Diphenhydramine (aka Benadryl) and other anticholinergic drugs are very effective at reducing cold and seasonal allergy symptoms. Unfortunately the drug also reduces a chemical in your brain called acetylcholine, which helps your memory and learning ability. And that’s why it may increase your chances of developing dementia.

A study by the University of Washington’s School of Pharmacy followed 3,500 seniors over the course of 10 years, and found that 800 of them developed dementia. When the researchers dug deeper, they discovered that people who take anticholinergic drugs on a regular basis for three years or more, had a 54% higher risk of developing dementia.


Acetaminophen is widely considered to be the world’s most popular pain reliever, and there are millions of people who rely on it for chronic health issues. Unfortunately the drug has been causally linked to a lot of its own health problems. Multiple studies have suggested that taking this drug over a long period of time may cause a heightened risk of cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, kidney, and heart problems.

Perhaps what’s more freaky about this drug, is not what it may due to your body, but what it may due to your mind. Recent studies have found that the drug can reduce your ability to empathize with others.


Though it’s an effective sleep aid and cough suppressant, it doesn’t take long to gain a tolerance for dextromethorphan, which is commonly used in Robitussin, NyQuil, and Delsym. And for people with chronic sleep problems, it’s very easy to become addicted to this drug. When used as instructed and for short periods of time, it isn’t very dangerous. Over long periods of time, it can cause liver damage and multiple mental problems.


Aspirin is another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug similar to ibuprofen. And like ibuprofen, it’s another drug that doctors often tell patients to take every day when it can alleviate conditions that are more dangerous than the side effects of the drug. However, those side effects shouldn’t be underestimated. Taking aspirin every day can vastly increase your risk of gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcers. Though some aspirin brands have an enteric coating that is advertised as being “safer,” it doesn’t actually reduce your risk of gaining ulcers. In fact, it can reduce the benefits of this drug, as well as its pain relieving effects.

Joshua Krause was born and raised in the Bay Area. He is a writer and researcher focused on principles of self-sufficiency and liberty at Ready Nutrition. You can follow Joshua’s work at our Facebook page or on his personal Twitter.

Joshua’s website is Strange Danger

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published April 11th, 2017
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  • Paul

    This a ridiculous post. This leaves no acceptable over the counter meds for pain relief. Please don’t tell me about “natural” pain meds, I’ve tried them all and none of them work nearly as well as the OTC meds.

    • puddin3

      Just because they are the only ones that work for you does not make this post ridiculous. It is all true. Tylenol and Ibuprofen also stop the production of a substance your body needs to rebuild connective tissue. So taking these meds causes the breakdown of connective tissue.

      • Acetaminophen does things to your liver that will make your connective tissue redundant.

    • ssohara

      I think the point is not that you should NEVER take these drugs, but rather to understand that there are side effects. If you take an aspirin or a benadryl or whatever once in a while, that is one thing. If you take it every day that is something else. OTOH if you are dealing with chronic pain then it might be worth the risks… this is something every person needs to decide for themselves, but being more informed helps you make better decisions.

      • MamaLiberty

        Exactly! 🙂

      • We can all see how well that worked for Rush Limbaugh.

      • ssohara

        that statement is meaningless. The reality is that some people are naturally more prone to addiction, others are less so, etc. What are the statistics? You make decisions based on statistical data along with a knowledge of your own family history (is my family filled with people with addiction issues? do I have this sort of tendency? then I need to be way more careful). You don’t make decisions based on what one celebrity did. at least, I don’t.

      • It was so meaningless that it stimulated an entire paragraph of agrammatical output from you in response?
        Rush Limbaugh routinely talks about how addicts like himself should be jailed for long periods of time, yet he wasn’t even indicted, even though he confessed continuously on the air about his “crimes.” Everyone is prone to addiction because it is as connected to indoctrination as it is to pathology. I tend to avoid including celebrity input in making decisions, because they are more influenced by advertising income than by outcome.

      • ssohara

        ??? I originally said that people need to make informed decisions. All drugs have side effects. For some, those include potential addiction. In some situations (for example, extreme pain) a person might decide that it’s worth it to take the drug.

        You didn’t address any of what I said, you just made a comment about Rush Limbaugh. “We can see how well that worked for Rush Limbaugh” is what you said. Did Rush carefully consider the side effects of the drugs he took, which is what I stated originally someone should do? I don’t know – do you? Did Rush come from a family with a history of addictions? As I said in my response, if you have a genetic predisposition to addiction, then you have to be even more cautious. Was Rush more cautious due to a family or personal history of addictive behavior?

        Given what I originally said, how was your statement on Rush relevant? I did not make any comments on jailing addicts (which you brought up above). Also, I don’t care what Rush routinely says on air. Obviously you do, but that’s not relevant to my original comment.

      • Since we are discussing analgesics, if such a drug produces extreme pain, perhaps hitting oneself with a hammer would be a better choice, having fewer side effects:-)

      • ssohara


      • ssohara

        Also, BTW, I am not insulting you personally, simply pointing out that logically, you did not address any of what I said, you went off on your own tangent.

      • Since this isn’t a formal debate, there is no logical reason to reject off-point comments as such.

      • ssohara

        not rejecting it, just didn’t get why he made it. was looking for some connection to what I had said earlier.

    • I doubt that you have tried celery seed and fennel seed, which eliminated and prevent 9 to 10 point lower back pain for me. Plus they are tasty spices rather than drugs. You can learn more about them and other natural anti-inflammatories in Healing Spices by Bharat B. Aggarwal PhD and Debora Yost, which is only $12.47 at Amazon right now.

  • puddin3

    what it will “due” to your mind? Are you kidding me?

  • MamaLiberty

    There are a number of “natural” substances that can alleviate pain and other symptoms. Unfortunately, the best one – cannabis – is not generally available, and the use of it has some serious political disadvantages even where it is “legal.”

    There is no perfect medicine, even cannabis. Almost anything can be dangerous or harmful to your health in the right dose, length of use.

    Rather than just pop pills or smoke something (there are far better ways than smoking to ingest herbs, obviously) – spend a little time and effort trying to find the cause/source of the pain, sleep problems, and work naturally with diet and lifestyle to mitigate those causes.

    • I never noticed an analgesic function of cannabis while I was a pothead for 20 years, but the relief from celery and fennel seed was as is very definite. Are you in northeast Wyoming?

      • MamaLiberty

        As an advanced practice RN, working in hospice for the last 14 years, I have seen a great many patients obtain significant pain and symptom relief from cannabis. Once the “prohibition” is lifted, it can be studied scientifically, but for now we must rely on personal experience and foreign studies. There is quite a bit of good research already in place, and the well demonstrated and documented safety of cannabis is truly astounding.

        Many natural products can help with pain and symptom management, but most of those have not been studied very well either. The key is for each person to have the freedom to seek information and make up their own mind, then take personal responsibility for their choices and actions.

      • Even if the prohibition is lifted, there would be no enhancement of the profitability for the pharmaceutical industry, so there would be no more money for scientific study. The only incentives in the current pharmacomedical industry are perverse. It has always been best for the patient to pursue their own therapies because that is the best way to avoid those that cause more problems than they relieve.

  • Diphenhydramine is at least as common in sleep aids as dextromethorphan, and it is far less likely to produce an overdose, since taking too much just makes you sleep longer.

    • MamaLiberty

      Chamomile tea is a far better choice for a sleep aid. Also self hypnosis for chronic sleep problems. Much of the chemical “medicine” available has more negative than positive affects. Some drugs are very good for emergencies, but for any chronic problem, there are far better alternatives.

      • The best sleep aids I have found are reading or listening the radio, since both of them take my mind off what is keeping me awake. Chronic problems should be addressed at the causal level.

  • genann59

    Benadryl, and other drugs of its kind can also, if taken over an extended period of time, damage the dopamine receptors in the brain, causing an ailment similar to Parkinson’s disease, called Tardive Dyskensia.(sp?). And it is the generic form of Benadryl that makes up the PM part of those pain medicine/sleeping medicine combinations. And if you drive while on it, and are in an accident or are stopped for erratic driving, you can get a ticket of driving under the influence, since taking benadryl is felt to have about the same effect on your brain as a couple stiff drinks.

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