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September 26, 2006

Medicine's Greatest Hits — Episode 1: Benadryl — World's Best Sleeping Pill


Hey, a new bookofjoe feature.

I figured why use the old "BehindTheMedspeak" when I could coin this new, much sexier category?

Why is Benadryl (generic name diphenhydramine hydrochloride) the world's best sleeping pill?

1) It works

2) It's cheap

3) It's available without a prescription anywhere in the world

4) It's the least likely of all sleep-inducing drugs to result in catastrophe as a result of an overdose — intentional or accidental

5) It's non-addictive

6) It's got a long track record of safety

So why isn't it the first drug recommended for insomnia?

See number 2 above — there's no profit for Big Pharma there.

Not at $4.99 for 24 tablets (21 cents apiece).

Bonus: even if it takes a while for you to drop off, if you've got a runny nose, itchy throat, watery eyes and find yourself sneezing, Benadryl's intended effects will lessen those symptoms.

September 26, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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"Isn't this 'non-addictive' drug one of the main ingrediants [sic] in the highly addictive and deadly methamphetamine? "

NO. You are thinking of "pseudoephedrine", commonly known as pseudoephed.

Benadryl is very safe and very cheap. Even cheaper if you buy the generic (diphenhydramine hydrochloride) from Target or Walgreens, etc.

Posted by: Kevitivity | Mar 6, 2009 3:32:23 AM

It isn't exactly surprising that Benadryl makes a great sleeping pill. Almost every OTC sleep aid, other than the herbal remedies, is 25mg diphenhydramine hydrochloride. It's the exact same medicine, same strength, and around the same price, depending on brand.

Posted by: ren | Mar 24, 2008 1:55:34 AM

I have best results with the elixir...

Posted by: ScienceChic | Sep 5, 2007 5:58:31 PM

I am a paramedic and was told by a nurse in the ER that benadryl is given in Meth overdoses. If this is right please explain why and how. I am very curious. Thanks

Posted by: Karen Kiefer | Sep 5, 2007 12:43:51 AM

ya know i must agree with the adhd...i have a very hard time falling asleep even with benadryl. i'm glad to know it is safe-especially in my feeble efforts...but for people that have this kind of "dyslexia" (did i spell that ok?) it is sooooo much different.
i am not a guide for knowledge of any sort, but i can say i have tried every drug out there legal and not and i can honeslty say that some people have a completely adverse reaction to what the drug does to the general masses.

Posted by: velvetmaggot | Mar 14, 2007 12:55:56 AM

Keeps me drowsy all the next day.

Posted by: cat | Oct 2, 2006 8:24:29 PM

You should try melatonin

Posted by: Neon | Oct 1, 2006 11:19:12 PM

Desoxyn only refers to a trademarked brand of pharmaceutical methamphetamine HCl, it was never in Dexotrim. It's not in Adderall either, although if you cleave off a methyl group and pretend it's the sulfate, you have d-amphetamine sulfate, one of a handful of the salt/isomer combinations in Adderall and definitely the most active.

Posted by: | Sep 27, 2006 2:07:04 PM

Is that what ADHD is? To beable to handle all kind of diverse amounts of projects and moving all the time? I think I suffer from that also. I have trouble winding down to do only one thing?

Ok...that actually made me digress.

Because what I wanted to say to clifyt is this. I have tried that drinking before bed a few times and wow it does work. But dont' you find the headachey sick feeling the day after was not worth it?? Well maybe it's worth it if you have a great time the night before while drinking it.

Also Flautist, one Benadryl does that to you? That is really something. I find one a night helps me sleep like a baby. Great for the breathing too. I did worry so if it was addicting. But I since I take no other medication I don't seem to be that easily addicted to anything. Well maybe the computer sometimes...=)

Posted by: Rhonda | Sep 27, 2006 9:41:48 AM

Hey Anonymous --

"You might be suprised to know that meth is prescribed in the US as Desoxyn. You might also be suprised to know that it works much better than that ol' mix of amphetamine salts we love to feed our hyperactive kids, Adderall."

Actually, I believe the chemical formula of Adderall contains this.

If my memory is correct, wasn't desoxyn one of the major components of Dexotrim -- which was a major diet pill in the US. It was reformulated after abuse by teens, and eventually taken off the market.

I have had ADHD all my life -- far before it was popular to diagnose this (i.e., I'm in my mid-30s) -- and generally, its a boon, not a problem as I manage large amounts of diverse projects and expected to move at a moments notice. As such, its only a problem when I attempt to focus on a single item of interest, which is seldom the case. For those times, Adderall is a lifesave and its something that folks without ADHD would never understand (luckily, this is only maybe a few times a year).

Posted by: clifyt | Sep 27, 2006 8:59:44 AM

Reply to David Seeber: The main ingredient of the "highly addictive and deadly methamphetamine" is methamphetamine. If, by ingredient, you mean precursor, you're thinking of pseudoephedrine.

You might be suprised to know that meth is prescribed in the US as Desoxyn. You might also be suprised to know that it works much better than that ol' mix of amphetamine salts we love to feed our hyperactive kids, Adderall.

Posted by: | Sep 26, 2006 9:33:17 PM

Great for hives, too.

Posted by: Mb | Sep 26, 2006 6:31:33 PM

"5) It's non-addictive"

Then its crap!

I want medicine that wants me to want it back!!! Then again, I've always figured a fifth of anything was enough to put me to sleep, or at least not remember what I did the night before so that I don't remember if I got sleep or not.

Posted by: clifyt | Sep 26, 2006 3:37:36 PM

This answers some questions for me. A couple of years ago when I had a few days' hospital stay after some major surgery (what is "minor" surgery anyway -- someone else's surgery?), it seemed like all hospital personnel who entered my room had a big old dose of what they said was Benadryl for me to take. I had issued all doctors and nurses my decree that I shall at no time be given any powerful sleeping potion, painkiller, etc., without my specificially asking for it. I was not going to be anyone's unwilling participant in any weird impromptu medical experiments, brain transplants, organ donations, bedside confessions, etc. So I guess they figured Benadryl was the next best thing, and kind of legit. I thought that THEY mistakenly thought I suffered from rampant allergies, which I don't. They wanted to keep me drugged up and compliant and defenseless, in some twilight zombie-state where I'd be easyygoing and complaint-free and not difficult! I don't think all the morphine and mickey finns and heroin and Quaaludes on earth could do that, actually.

Knowledge is power!

Posted by: Flautist | Sep 26, 2006 1:59:57 PM

I love to fall asleep with a antihistamine...=)

Thought I was the only one that had this little issue??

Glad to hear it's not that bad for me....

Posted by: Rhonda | Sep 26, 2006 1:38:55 PM

Isn't this 'non-addictive' drug one of the main ingrediants in the highly addictive and deadly methamphetamine?

Posted by: David Seeber | Sep 26, 2006 1:04:46 PM

Good to have the word from an anesthesiologist that my favorite sleep aid is OK.

Posted by: Al Christensen | Sep 26, 2006 12:50:47 PM

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