Don’t cook chicken in Nyquil. Full stop. It’s gross and dangerous.

Health & Wellness

Nyquil chicken, or “#sleepychicken,” isn’t a new thing. It’s been around for years but has recently made a little come back on TikTok. The idea: boil chicken in Nyquil or other liquid cold medicines. Some videos even encourage draining off the braising liquid of Nyquil and chicken juice back into the Nyquil bottle for future use. 🤢

“Why on earth would anyone do this?” you might be asking yourself. Good question! Several reasons are making the rounds: it’s weird, the chicken turns a freaky blue color, as a COVID-19 remedy (seriously, what hasn’t been touted as a COVID-19 remedy in the past 2-ish years?), and as a way to get high (from concentrated diphenhydramine, aka Benadryl). While the chicken does turn a weird blue color, the rest of the reasons are just bologna. It does not cure viral illness and is just an incredibly dangerous way to chase a high. The FDA went so far to issue a warning against Nyquil chicken.

Nyquil chicken is potentially quite dangerous. Cough medicines like Nyquil can contain alcohol, which can boil off concentrating the rest of the ingredients to dangerous levels. Acetaminophen is a common pain and fever reducer in cold medicines. When taken at too high doses can cause severe liver damage. Dextromethorphan is a cough suppressant and in overdose can cause agitation, seizures, hallucinations, breathing problems and coma. Doxylamine is an antihistamine. When the dose is too high, it can cause sleepiness, dizziness, muscle twitching, and heart palpitations.Ok, so over the counter cough medicine isn’t a good braising liquid for chicken. But let’s forget about Nyquil chicken for a minute — do cough medicines help reduce cold symptoms when taken correctly? There is some evidence that medicines that contain a combination of antihistamine, decongestant, and analgesic can improve symptoms a little for adults but not really for kids (check out the systematic review below for all the fun details!).

Over the counter cold medications should never be given to children under the age of 4 because the significant risk of side effects and no proven benefit.

When you have a cold, rather than cook your chicken in medicine, try acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (like ibuprofen) for pain or fever, cool mist humidifiers, cold soft foods, nasal suction, salt water gargles, nasal irrigation, and good old fashion rest and hydration. Honey can help for adults and kids over 1 year old. Sadly, there is no cure for the common cold, just efforts to try to reduce symptoms and get you through the hump. If you would like to take an over the counter cold medicine, take it as directed and never give to children under the age of 4. If you have medical problems or take other medications, talk with your primary care clinician before taking cold medicines to make sure they are safe.

Stay safe. Stay well. Don’t poison yourself and others with TikTok inspired nonsense.

Those Nerdy Girls

Additional Links:

FDA Warning about Nyquil Chicken

AAP Caring for A Child’s Cold or Flu

Cochrane Review on Oral antihistamine-decongestant-analgesic combinations for the common cold