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What happens to your body when you take a painkiller

What happens to your body when you take a painkiller

The TikTok explanation has left viewers mind-blown

The human body is, in my humble opinion, the most weird and wonderful phenomenon that exists in our world today.

Underwater cliff edges, I can just about get my head around. The Pyramids of Giza, easy-peasy. The force of gravity, pfft.

But when it comes to our bodies - how they fight off infections, give birth to tiny humans and can be 80% water - I'm both mind-blown and stumped at the same time.

And it seems I'm not the only one, after hundreds of TikTok users were left dumbfounded this week after discovering what EXACTLY happens inside our bodies when we take painkillers.

A video - posted by the social media account @medic.911 - explained the process in layman's terms, and has since gone viral online.

"When you swallow a pill of ibuprofen to try to stop the pain, do you know what happens to it inside your body?", the clip's narrator can be heard asking viewers.

"How does it know where you're hurting when it's not loaded with GPS? Two minutes to explain how ibuprofen works."

Have you ever wondered how painkillers work?
Getty/Science Photo Library

The voice-over then explains ibuprofen as the "cream of the crop when it comes to painkillers" compared to others, such as paracetamol and codine.

This is reportedly because it "only takes one small tablet to relieve your pain", the video explains.

"When you swallow an ibuprofen capsule with warm water, it's the first thing to reach your stomach, the shell of the capsule - made up mostly of proteins - is dissolved by stomach acid and digestive enzymes.

"After 10 minutes, the ibuprofen that's hidden inside will reveal itself. It's then absorbed into the small intestine and into the vascular network, and travels by vein to our liver.

"During this process, the enzymes in our body will collide with the ibuprofen molecules, and cause a small amount of attrition."

The TikTok animation explains what exactly happens in the body when you ingest a painkiller.
TikTok/@medic.911

The video goes on to explain: "Most of the ibuprofen molecules are able to avoid the enzymes by manoeuvring around and enter the body's bloodstream.

"At this point, it's been almost 30 minutes since you swallowed the ibuprofen. Next, the ibuprofen army will visit every organ of the body on red blood cells.

"When they detect pain signals, they bind to specific target molecules and create a chemical reaction. Then, they send the signal to other ibuprofen molecules, telling them to get to work."

The narrator then explains that by an hour, the "army has assembled", before explaining it again in the case of menstrual cramps, which are normally caused by prostaglandins stimulating pain receptors.

"What ibuprofen wants is not a one vs ten, but a sneak attack from behind to get to the prostaglandin-producing enzyme, cyclooxygenase.

The video explains how ibuprofen tackles menstrual cramps.
Getty/Kinga Krzeminska

"Ibuprofen then binds to cyclooxygenase and silences it. Over the next few hours, the ibuprofen that's left in your bloodstream will pass through your liver several times."

The video explains that this remaining ibuprofen is metabolised in a "certain ratio, and finally excreted in the urine."

And viewers were quick to heap praise on the medical explanation, which was accompanied by a cartoon visual aid.

"thank God for the explanation! I have always wondered how medication knew exactly where to go for pain this is very informative," one wrote in the comments.

A second went on: "I was just thinking about this a few hours ago! It's crazy how the body works!"

Featured Image Credit: Credit: andreswd/Getty Images/Getty Stock Images

Topics: Health, TikTok