I remember taking Nyquil a child. Oh how I loathed the shots of mysterious green liquid and hated, even more, the headaches that ensued the next day. Years later, still reaching for Nyquil for every fall and summer cold, still suffering from “Nyquil Hangovers” I had the worst “out of body” experience of my life. Seriously, I didn’t know if I was tired or extremely wired. I couldn’t sleep nor could I stay awake and the symptoms stayed around for about 3 days.
It was the very last time I ever took Nyquil.
Luckily I learned to nourish my immune system and the moment I felt the sniffles or anything more serious coming on I started with honey, ginger, lemon, zinc lozenges and orange juice. Oh and I kept myself warm and rested. I didn’t try to work past it. I learned early on that listening to my body and getting quiet when it needed rest helped me kick most colds and flu quickly and easily.
The fact is we live in a culture of “pop a pill and get on with it” so Nyquil has such a following that it now comes in a few flavors and even has a “sleep aid” called ZZZquil (which is just a little more than a little disturbing to me!).
Since were are talking so much about liver detoxification via Phase I and Phase II and the different pathways and how they detox everything from drugs, to used hormones to endotoxin, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what is actually IN Nyquil and, indeed, most over the counter cold medications.
So here’s the rundown on all the toxic chemicals that we take in the name of not suffering from cold symptoms and get a “good night’s sleep”::
- Acetaminophen is derived from coal tar, acetaminophen was used for nearly a century for reducing fever and as a painkiller before how it worked really became known. Now we understand that as the drug breaks down in the body, it turns into a cannabinoid. Here’s the short definition of cannabinoid: They are a class of diverse chemical compounds that activate cannabinoid receptors on cells that repress neurotransmitter release in the brain. (If you are thinking it, I am going to say it. Think CANNABIS without the high!)
- Dextromethorphan HBr acts as a cough suppressant. In the body it becomes dextrorphan , a cough suppressant, and levorphanol, a painkiller five times as powerful as morphine. Like PCP and ketamine, DXM is also an NMDA receptor antagonist and an excitotoxin. As a result the National Institute on Drug Abuse lists it as a “dissociative” drug that may have psychedelic effects in high doses.
- Doxylamine succinate. An antihistamine with hypnotic effects.
- Citric acid as a flavor enhancer. (Though might I say, it’s not working!)
- Alcohol . According to Procter & Gamble, alcohol’s purpose in NyQuil is to serve as a solvent, keeping the top three ingredients in solution. But come on! Anyone ever heard of a “NyQuil high”?? I knew a few kids in school that used to do Nyquil shots as a means of getting high. I’m just saying.
- Polyethylene glycol and propylene glycol . Chemical cousins used as thickeners. They also help create polyester compounds. That’s right beauties. The fabric everyone wears. Drug marketers got wise to how most people prefer medicines in syrup form and these two chemical compounds give it JUST the right texture.
- Sodium citrate. In other contexts sodium citrate is an anticoagulant; most likely it is used here as a buffer to maintain the acid-base balance of all the other ingredients.
- Flavor . Because who doesn’t LOVE the flavor of Nyquil?? Just remember, flavor is often Bisphenol-A, parabens, and even phtalates, all known hormone disruptors and even cancer causing compounds.
- High fructose corn syrup . Syrup isn’t syrup without HFCS! As most people know by now, HFCS is produced from genetically modified corn and is, generally, frowned upon in health circles for its skewed ratio of fructose to glucose. Nasty.
So there is the rundown of the most notorious chemical toxins. These chemicals are notoriously hard to break down in Phase I of liver detox and can negatively impact several pathways (acetylation and the sulfation pathway are greatly affected).
I don’t know about you but knowing this makes me simply want to add a shot of brandy to my famous cold remedy and go to bed and be able to sleep instead of feeling like I am falling through the ceiling.
What are your experiences with over the counter cold medication? Have the been a help or hindrance to you?