If you’re into brand names, you call it Tylenol; if you’re into generics, it’s acetaminophen; if you’re from almost anywhere else in the world but North America, it’s called paracetamol. But it’s one of the most widely-selling pain relievers on the market, and (relatively) recently, researchers finally discovered how it works. And it works a lot like cannabis for pain relief!
It turns out that one of the main ways that acetaminophen works is by activating the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body, very similar to the way THC does (although it’s a much more complicated process in the case of acetaminophen). Acetoaminophen is also a COX inhibitor, so this isn’t the only way it works, but it’s damn interesting anyway.
Whether you call it Tylenol, acetaminophen, or paracetamol, it’s generally considered to be one of the safest drugs available, so it’s sold over the counter in most places around the world. Of course, that’s “safest” in comparison to prescription drugs and most other Big Pharma products: it’s also one of the top causes of liver failure, and after numerous deaths, the FDA is now starting to implement new rules for lower doses. Ironically, the 450 deaths a year in the US from inadvertent acetaminophen poisoning vastly outnumber the victims in the widely-publicized Tylenol poisonings in the 1980s. Deaths from cannabis toxicity still stand at a big fat zero.