What Made Actor Liam Neeson Cry in Pain and How Can You Be Proactive About It?
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, J.D., Founder
The culprit behind Liam Neeson’s excruciating pain may come as a surprise to you. It was apparently caffeine. The actor, who is now 70-years-old, said, “I was getting shooting pains in my leg, cramps in the middle of the night,” according to one report.
“The pain made me cry. It was agonising [agonizing].”
Neeson shared that he was able to get some relief from a good massage therapist, but he discovered that his high intake of caffeine was the root of the problem.
In order to really understand this, we first have to understand the role of lactic acid.
Made mostly in the body’s muscle cells and red blood cells, lactic acid (also known as lactate) is made when the body breaks down carbohydrates for energy when the body’s oxygen levels are low, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Your body’s oxygen levels may get low during heavy exercise or when having an infection or disease reduces the amount of oxygen delivered to your body’s tissues. Other causes of low oxygen may include heart failure and shock.
Lactic acid levels increase when oxygen levels decrease.
“Research shows that caffeine, a stimulant with ergogenic properties, increases blood lactate levels,” according to the University of Texas at Arlington.
Neeson did not disclose exactly how much caffeine he was consuming, but I think it had to be a lot. His massage therapist asked if he consumes a lot of caffeine (to which he replied yes).
Consuming caffeine in excess can be very problematic. Doing this may increase heart rate and elevate blood pressure. In fact, there is such a thing as a caffeine-induced heart attack. I stopped drinking excess coffee and caffeine after discovering that I am a slow caffeine metabolizer. Caffeinated drinks in general make my heart rate increase and elevate my blood pressure.
I suggest that if you are having pain, assess if you are consuming too much caffeine.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)) suggests no more than 400 milligrams for healthy adults. This is equivalent to four cups of coffee. Note that 4 cups of coffee a day may not be healthy for you (especially if you are adding cream and sugar or processed flavored syrups). If you are always a self-proclaimed coffee addict or feel like you cannot function without caffeine, I highly recommend seeing what you can do to make yourself less dependent on this substance. Perhaps you need to practice better sleep hygiene, exercise more or get more nutrients in your diet from whole, plant-based foods.
Don't forget about magnesium.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that actually has antinociceptive effects, meaning it can keep the nociceptor (a sensory receptor for pain) from overreacting when it talks to your brain about the pain you are experiencing.
In a study of hip replacement patients, magnesium plus morphine was more effective than morphine used alone for pain. There are so many delicious, healthy foods that contain magnesium including leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts, salmon, avocados and bananas. (Click here to educate yourself about several different types of magnesium supplements).
Remember coffee and caffeine are not enemies. It all depends on the person and their personal health status.
There may also be some potential health benefits to drinking coffee in moderation. Tea, especially green tea, may also be a great beverage option because it is loaded with antioxidants.
Cryotherapy for pain management.
Finally, check out this older pH Labs blog about cryotherapy and how it can be a very useful tool in pain management and prevention.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses, and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products, and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.