Wildwood Inn Health Retreat - Health Wellness Center

Pain and fever Control Without Aspirin

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We have become known as the chemical society. Many of our prominent diseases are intimately associated, often in a way that we do not realize, with our exposure to chemicals of various kinds from kitchen detergents and exhaust fumes to powerful drugs like cortisone.

Our exposure to chemicals is so common that we do not recognize that a number of these chemicals are giving us injury. We become so accustomed to contact with chemicals and drugs that we have idiomatic expressions in our language such as "harmless as aspirin" using a common chemical as a prototype of harmless things.

We should not regard any exposure a chemical that is not native to the body or the natural environment as being harmless or to be used safely without restraint. Aspirin is particularly harmful, and should be looked on with strong suspicion. About 10,000 Americans each year lose their lives because of taking aspirin. These deaths are entirely separate from accidental overdose in children. Aspirin is the trade name for acetylsalicylic acid.

The two most common uses of aspirin are pain relief and fever reduction. Approximately 17,500 tons of aspirin each year are used in these ways, to the tune of $600 million a year. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is used similarly, but contrary to earlier advertising, it appears to be even more toxic than aspirin. I agree with the many physicians who feel that aspirin should be a strictly controlled prescription item, not an over-the-counter drug.

Approximately 5% of persons taking aspirin will have heartburn after a single dose. Bleeding in the stomach and ulceration may follow in susceptible individuals, and is the affliction with results in most of the deaths from aspirin. Nearly 70% of persons taking aspirin daily show a daily blood loss of 1/2 to 11/2 teaspoons, and 10% of patients lose as much as 2 teaspoons of blood daily. Aspirin may double the time necessary for human blood to clot, increasing the likelihood of hemorrhage.

By far, the most disabling of the adverse reactions to aspirin is that of asthma. Attacks of asthma are often caused by very small amounts of the drug, and may be accompanied by swelling of the larynx, abdominal pain, and shock. In an occasional case, death may occur within minutes. Fortunately, this type of sensitivity is unusual, occurring in less than 0.2% of the general population.

Aspirin is a major cause of death in children up to 6 years of age, accounting for more than 500 deaths from overdoses each year. One should never consider any drug, whether over-the counter or prescription to be totally safe. No one, and especially not children, should be exposed unnecessarily to any drug. And never expose the unborn baby to drugs, no matter how mild, including antacids, choose for heartburn, antihistamines for motion sickness, or any other drug or chemical. This point cannot be emphasized too strongly, as many infants are marked for life because of a small exposure to a chemical which the mother took while she was pregnant. Often the defect in the child is of a biochemical nature rather than a structural abnormality. Perhaps the baby will not be able to make a certain enzyme needed to digest a particular nutrient, or make an essential blood component.

Most pain and fever can be easily controlled without aspirin or Tylenol. To control pain use heat or cold, or alternating applications of both, applying the heat or cold by a variety of different routes--heating pad, hot water bottle, ice cap, an ordinary fruit jar filled with ice or hot water and wrapped in a towel. Other methods include a hot tub bath, a hot shower, a "short cold bath" (30-120 seconds in cold bath water of 50-65 degrees). Usually, hot water applied directly to the part, if practicable, is the most effective, the temperature of the water being from 105-110 degrees, depending on the health of the individual and the part to be treated, but the easiest method should be tried first. Generally, the hot applications should be as hot as can be tolerated and the cold applications should be as cold as you can get them. Alternating hot and cold packs may be applied to the chest, to the abdomen, or to any part for aches and pains. Wring a towel from hot water and place it on the painful part for 3-6 minutes. Replace the hot compress with an ice-cold compress for 30-60 seconds. Alternate in this fashion for 3-5 changes.

If headache relief is needed, put the feet in hot water for 30 minutes. The headache will dissolve into the footbath! Of course, if one is a severe diabetic on insulin, or has known blockage of arteries to the legs, this treatment should not be used, for even ordinary temperatures can sometimes cause blisters in these persons.

Common fevers can easily be treated by sitting in a hot tub bath from 105 to 110 degrees until the skin is quite red, and profuse sweating occurs. After the first five minutes, keep an ice cold cloth to the forehead, or from the beginning if the fever starts out over 101 degrees. Take a cup of hot water or hot herb tea when sweating begins. When the skin is red and sweating profusely, after 10-20 minutes, then finish off the remedy as follows: (1) work fast to take a brief spray of cool water over the entire body from the chin downward; (2) then a quick friction rubdown with a coarse towel; (3) wrap a bathrobe around you, jump into bed and sweat for half an hour; (4) arise, take a brief, normal shower if needed to cleanse the skin and relieve a sense of chilliness after sweating, and (5) re-dress.

At all times that the body temperature goes above 101 degrees or when one begins sweating while taking any kind of hot bath, a cold cloth should be kept on the face, forehead or throat. When one finishes the hot soaking bath, if the treatment has been a good one, a sensation of weakness may develop after a minute or so of standing, because of the transfer of blood from the interior of the body to the exterior, much as in sunburn. This is normal, because of extensive reddening of the skin.


The majority of this content is taken from Dr. Agatha Thrash of Uchee Pines Institute, printed with permission by Wildwood Inn Health Retreat.


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