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January 6, 2009

BehindTheMedspeak [Blast From The Past]: Medicine's Greatest Hits — Benadryl: World's Best Sleeping Pill


Insomnia's a problem for many people — always has been, always will be.

It's just the way of the world.

There's never been a better time than right this minute to feature the following much-referenced post from the archives; it first appeared on September 26, 2006.

    Benadryl — World's Best Sleeping Pill

    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 $4.44 for 24 capsules.

    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.

January 6, 2009 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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Boy oh boy! Google 'Benadryl problems' and settle down for some nightmarish reading. Despite your #6, Joe - it is not safe over long (or even longish) usage. For me (and many others) the problem was weight gain - and that with no change in my diet (which is great) nor any change in exercise (which is a lot).
I gained 5 pounds after one month of use (for sleep) and 5 pounds the within the next two weeks. Then I quit.

Posted by: Pamela Daley | Jan 8, 2009 2:26:13 AM

You can also take it when you're pregnant! DOUBLE BONUS!!!

Posted by: Jill | Jan 7, 2009 4:36:08 PM

You could always read a lousy book.

On another note,

Nick: So do you! (brighten my being) "Is all I'm saying." And for the record, that's free love "which is just the way we like it" here at book of Joe. And "the long story short," of it is that Bev (especially Bev), Cliffy, Lil, Wombat, Rocky baby and you are about the best commenters this side of the BOJ sphere. At least that's my personal opinion but "hey, what do I know?" And, before I kick this happy horsedoodoo right back at you though babe, I'd like to put forth a motion for crack research team secret handshake. I think the fan club is lacking one don't you? I think we should all crack some knuckles and simultaneously say: Joe! But surely I digress...

Posted by: Milena | Jan 7, 2009 1:46:59 PM

I agree that its a great short term fix - but in the long term Benadryl has negative effects on sleep architecture and the patient will develop a tolerance when using on a chronic basis. This tolerance will lead to the patient using an increased dose and the medication's side effects are dose dependent.


Love the blog - great work!

Posted by: Will | Jan 7, 2009 12:45:37 PM

These two quotes personify the value of Bookofjoe.
"I have zero symptoms if I'm not awake to experience them, if you think about it."

"For some reason I find that to be incredibly hilarious."

Thanks Joe, Randee, Flautist, Milena, Clifft, Lilorfanee and many others.
You all brighten my being.

Now, enough of this happy horseshit and get back to work!

Posted by: Nick | Jan 7, 2009 12:30:49 PM

I love me some Benadryl.

What cracks me up is that it's recommended -- as you point out -- for everything but what it really does best.

I've long said that I'm not itchy when I'm sleeping, and (as with Dramamine) I'm not seasick if I'm unconscious. I have zero symptoms if I'm not awake to experience them, if you think about it.

Posted by: Randee | Jan 6, 2009 11:52:29 PM

A friend of mine (no, not me) once took some of the tranquilizers prescribed for her dog (Valium or some such humans-too med) and when she confessed this to her doc he said, "What did your dog have?"

For some reason I find that to be incredibly hilarious.

Posted by: Flautist | Jan 6, 2009 11:17:27 PM

Flautist, the kitty lived to die another day...and so did I.

Posted by: Nick | Jan 6, 2009 10:46:35 PM

Sulfamethazine boluses for cattle are also a universal cure-all. It's the poor man's version of penicillin -- chop a piece up with honey and it'll cure anything.

Posted by: drbarkingdog | Jan 6, 2009 5:05:02 PM

Me too, Nick. Once, a long time ago -- something for a skin fungal thing. I've never confessed that till this very minute. Whew. I feel better now.

Oh -- did the cat ever need the med? I mean, I'd feel terrible if I took the cat's drugs and it went without.

Posted by: Flautist | Jan 6, 2009 5:02:19 PM

Don't tell anyone but I have a vet friend who once prescribed my cat a drug I needed. The same med was a fraction of the cost in its vet form. I would not advocate this nor do I endorse it (it happened once).
The issue here is the big pharma companies.

Posted by: Nick | Jan 6, 2009 2:20:24 PM

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