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A blogger’s manipulations: the dangers of effective painkillers to promote dietary supplements

The posts by some bloggers about the dangers of proven medicines demonstrate how some Instagram accounts are prone to promoting unscientific views. For example, a blogger with the nickname vasyl_lukianov, who has no medical education, advertises alternative treatments for women during PMS.

If you thought the stereotype that it’s better to endure pain than take “harmful painkillers” was a relic of the soviet past, you’ll be greatly disappointed. 

Sometimes, modern Instagram accounts sharing cheesecake recipes promote unscientific nonsense.

And most importantly — it’s clearly a ploy to push certain food supplements. 

For example, take the blogger with the nickname vasyl_lukianov, who is neither a gynecologist nor someone likely to experience menstruation or premenstrual syndrome. Yet, he warns women that effective painkillers are harmful, scaremongering that paracetamol can lead to liver damage. Instead, he praises alternative “natural” methods.

Let’s take a look at his recommendations:
  • Magnesium (400-800 mg);
  • Lemon balm;
  • Boswellia dietary supplements (a tree genus from the sapindaceae family known for its fragrant resin);
  • Teas with mint, chamomile, fennel, etc.

However, these methods are ineffective, especially for severe menstrual pain or intense premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

But, scaring people away from effective and relatively safe painkillers is harmful. 

Severe menstrual pain requires evidence-based treatments, not chamomile tea (which can also trigger allergies).

Such videos made by a man without a medical degree are detrimental and undermine the severity of menstruation for women. 

But first things first.

A few clarifications from gynecologist Olena Pavlova: Premenstrual syndrome and dysmenorrhoea, the pain syndrome of varying intensity during menstruation, are two distinct conditions.

PMS begins ten days before your period and often comes with the following symptoms: 

  • depressed mood;
  • migraines;
  • drowsiness; 
  • irritability, etc.

Dysmenorrhoea, on the other hand, is severe pain that frequently strikes in the first days after menstruation commences. Sometimes it starts the day before and lasts for about three days. It can range from moderate, when a woman just needs rest, to very severe, necessitating effective painkillers.

“Doctors prescribe painkillers not because they want you to have liver problems. It’s because these are drugs that have undergone numerous long-term studies for effectiveness and safety. Yes, paracetamol, like any medicine or even dietary supplements, has its contraindications. It cannot be prescribed to 100% of the world’s population — for example, to people who already have liver and kidney dysfunction, anemia, alcoholism, etc. But most women can take it. If you’re in the minority, there’s always ibuprofen. These are first-line drugs all over the world,” explains Doctor Olena Pavlova. 

Pharmacist Andriy Chymbar adds that paracetamol as an analgesic is the first recommendation of the WHO and many national medical agencies. 

And the phrase that it ranks first among drugs that damage the liver is a manipulation of statistics.

“Paracetamol has been widely used for over 70 years. If we take into account all the confirmed data on liver damage after taking it, it may well be in first place. But this is precisely by the number of cases,” Chymbar explains.

To comprehend the full picture, Chymbar advises considering the following factors:

Initially, there was a lack of understanding about paracetamol’s safe, effective dosage upon its widespread introduction. 

Abuse of the drug to relieve persistent pain, exceeding the single/daily dose, prolonged use, or combining it with other analgesics, has been an issue. 

Cases of taking paracetamol with alcohol — which can render it highly toxic due to its metabolic characteristics — have also occurred.

Special attention should be paid to magnesium, which the blogger recommends as an analgesic in a dosage of 400-800 mg, clarifying the question of why he mentioned it at all. 

Here’s how the pharmacist explains it:

“Often, menstrual pain is spastic in nature, occurring due to pathological contraction of the muscle tissue of internal organs. One of magnesium’s biological roles is the functioning of ion channels responsible for nerve impulse conduction, which translates to contraction and relaxation, including the smooth muscle. However, our daily magnesium requirement is only 300-400 mg.

He adds that magnesium supplements have low bioavailability, meaning the body struggles to absorb it efficiently. The proposed doses are actually for deficiency prevention, as less than half of the ingested dose is absorbed. And if someone has the idea to “treat” something with magnesium, the dose should be higher. 

But prescribing any vitamin or mineral dose without consulting a doctor is strictly forbidden!

The final warning concerns herbal remedies. 

Their problem is not only that they are poorly researched, but also that calculating the concentration of the active ingredient in a plant is extremely difficult. 

That’s why modern medicine insists on researched, purified, and precisely dosed drugs.

The last giveaway that the blogger is a medical layman is that he calls the painkiller “ketamine” —  “ketanol.” 

Even if we imagine that this was a slip of the tongue, the advertising of dietary supplements is evidently no accident and comes at the expense of subscribers’ health and quality of life small logo

Prepared by Natali Bushkovska.

фактчекерка на всі крильця
Halyna Dolynna
Halyna Dolynna
editor of the English texts
01 / 01