Which is best for you, Advil or Tylenol?

When you’re in pain what do you reach for, Tylenol or Advil?
What about fever or body aches from the flu?
How if your precious baby is teething or gets an earache, which do you give?

These are questions that you might be asking yourself today, and I’m going to help you.  There are some primary differences between these two medications, both blockbusters sold worldwide under various brand names.  The ingredients themselves are included in thousands of multi-tasking formulas.

If you read labels, you’ll see the generic names as follows:

—–> Tylenol = Acetaminophen

—–> Advil, Motrin = Ibuprofen

Both of these meds will begin to relieve pain within 30 to 40 minutes, and should last for 2 to 4 hours for most of you.  You can take them with food, in fact I recommend it.  In a nutshell, being very very general, I’d say that Acetaminophen is more harmful to your liver, and better on your gut in terms of a GI bleed.  And Ibuprofen has more effects on the gut and is associated with GI bleeds as well as cardiovascular and circulation problems, serious ones at time… but it’s pretty easy on your liver.  Now, I’ll break down the symptoms you might be having today to help you choose what’s right for you or a loved on.  Of course, please ask your doctor what’s right for you, this is just an opinion column. I couldn’t possibly know what every one of you needs for every situation.  Here goes:

You can use either one unless you’re giving it to a baby less than 6 months old. Babies less than 6 months old should be given acetaminophen (Tylenol).

I’d choose ibuprofen because it directly reduces some pain-causing cytokines, whereas acetaminophen impacts the way you feel pain, essentially ‘numbing’ you to the sensation. No one is 100 percent sure how it works, we just have clues. We know it works though. If you have severe pain, it’s sometimes recommended to alternate between ibuprofen and acetaminophen every few hours.   Back pain and osteoarthritis responds better to ibuprofen according to the British Medical Journal.

If you are normally a wine drinker at dinner, or you drink alcohol stay, away from Tylenol because it could exacerbate the liver damage caused by the alcohol.  Ibuprofen is a drug mugger of folate, whereas acetaminophen is a drug mugger of glutathione. If you run out of folate, you could develop high homocysteine (increases risk of heart disease), cervical dysplasia, depression, chronic diarrhea, grey hair and mouth sores.

If you run low on glutathione, fatigue, general pain and liver problems occur. There are dozens of other symptoms that I don’t have space to list, and also, these depletions take time.  You don’t run out of the nutrients with normal dosages, taken properly for a short-term.  Don’t live in pain because you are worried about this, just keep it in mind if you take them every day.  Supplement with what the drug mugger stole.

You may be concerned about addiction, so let me reassure you, both medications are completely safe in this regard.

PMS or cramps
PMS as in Pre-menstrual Syndrome- definitely ibuprofen for this, it is a stronger anti-inflammatory and it will relieve the pain much faster. Just FYI, a combination of  B complex and magnesium may help mood swings, water retention, tearfulness and cramps.


Do you take blood thinners (warfarin) or any other type of anticoagulant medication?  You’re better off with acetaminophen in this case since ibuprofen can further thin the blood.  Heart disease or hypertension? Your better off with acetaminophen.

A recent study suggests taking Tylenol affects your ability to empathize with someone else during their own physical or emotional pain. In other words, you could make you care less that a plane went down or your bestie lost her job as an example. Does Ibuprofen blunt your emotional reactions too? While no study never tested ibuprofen, in my humble opinion, it could. It certainly has the potential I feel, I mean think about it this way, whenever you reduce your own ability to feel pain, it’s certainly harder to feel pain for another because you’re feeling so good. I’ve seen this over and over with people in my life. They are flying high in their own life, oblivious to other people’s sadness or the burdens on their heart, and only until they themselves experience some kind of a crisis or a low, do they begin to ask relatives and friends, “How are you? I mean how ARE you really?”  It’s like suddenly they get it. So the same with pain, if they aren’t feeling it, they probably can’t relate to any one else’s pain either.  This can be the topic of another article, for now my job is pretty much done. I wanted you to know the difference between two phenomenal pain relievers that are sold worldwide.