What Cooking Chicken in NyQuil Actually Does to Your Body

The FDA doesn’t want you to cook chicken in NyQuil. In fact, no one wants to cook chicken in NyQuil – that’s the whole point. But the FDA issued a warning about “drug-related social media issues” because even shitty posts can kill you if you choose to post stupid enough shitty posts.

Is cooking NyQuil chicken really deadly? We do n’t have proof of this yet. But the drug’s ingredients can cause serious toxicity if you take too many of them, and boiling NyQuil increases the concentration of these ingredients. There’s also the option to inhale them while filming your crappy post, but we’ll get to that later.

The FDA said it had only been a few years since one teen died and several others were hospitalized after taking large doses of the allergy drug Benadryl. TikTok videos reportedly gave teens the idea – take enough medication and you’ll have hallucinations – but the amount needed to cause hallucinations is perilously close to the amount that could kill you. What about NyQuil?

What’s in NyQuil anyway?

The active ingredients in the standard formulation of NyQuil (an overnight cough, cold and flu relief liquid) are acetaminophen, dextromethorphan and doxylamine.


Acetaminophen is the same active ingredient as Tylenol. It is antipyretic and analgesic. It is also known for its liver toxicity when ingested in high amounts. An overdose of this drug is responsible for 500 deaths annually in the US , half of which are unintentional. Acetaminophen toxicity is the second most common cause of liver transplant after cirrhosis.

Acetaminophen toxicity can also cause dangerous skin reactions, images of which I strongly advise you not to google, including toxic epidermal necrolysis and acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis. According to the National Institutes of Health , these conditions are “extremely painful and can lead to blindness and death.”

The toxic dose is 7.5 to 10 grams of acetaminophen per day. A 12-ounce bottle of NyQuil contains 7.8 grams, which is about this threshold. If you have swallowed a serious amount of acetaminophen, go to the emergency room immediately.


Dextromethorphan suppresses coughs, which is why you’ll find it in many cold medicines. It is also known for causing hallucinations and dissociation. If cough syrup makes you feel weird, you may be experiencing a mild version of this effect – and yes, people have been drinking whole bottles of various cough syrups for recreational purposes. (Again: don’t drink a bottle of NyQuil, as it contains potentially life-threatening levels of acetaminophen. We’ve got the best legal drugs for you .)

The drug binds to serotonin receptors, potentially leading to serotonin syndrome, which can be life-threatening. Severe cases may include seizures, rhabdomyolysis, kidney failure, and respiratory failure . Dextromethorphan overdoses are more likely if you are taking other drugs that affect serotonin syndrome , including antidepressants such as SSRIs and MAOIs.

The dose that by itself can cause “complete dissociation and coma” is 600 milligrams or higher . A 12-ounce bottle of NyQuil contains 360 milligrams, which is below that threshold, but still very high compared to the usual dose and potentially dangerous when combined with other medications.


Doxylamine is an antihistamine and belongs to the same chemical family as the main ingredient in Benadryl, which, as mentioned earlier, can cause lethal toxicity. High doses of doxylamine can cause hallucinations as well as respiratory failure, convulsions, urticaria, and coma .

The lethal dose of doxylamine is estimated to be between 25 and 250 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. This lower level would be 1250 grams for a 50 kg (110 lb) teenager. A 12-ounce bottle of NyQuil contains only about 150 milligrams of doxylamine, so among the ingredients you might ingest or inhale while cooking NyQuil chicken, this may be the least likely to kill you.

What Happens When You Cook NyQuil

Unsurprisingly, my search for scientific literature on what happens when you cook chicken in NyQuil has been fruitless. Science is slow to move, but the recipe debuted on 4chan in 2017 , so hopefully the research continues. (I imagine researchers giving mice tiny cell phones to recreate the process.)

The FDA indicates that they expect cooking NyQuil will result in a concentration of its ingredients, in much the same way that boiling balsamic vinegar can create a syrupy consistency. Brew your NyQuil the same way, and it’s possible that a few scoops of the resulting syrup may contain high enough doses of the active ingredients to cause harm.

Another problem is that the ingredients in the syrup can also boil away. This sounds like a good thing since they won’t be in the finished dish, but it also means you can inhale them in the process. “Even if you don’t eat chicken, inhaling drug fumes while cooking can put a lot of drugs into your body,” the FDA warns. “It can also damage your lungs.”

The NyQuil chicken is fake, by the way.

I find NyQuilChickenGate sociologically fascinating. There’s something of a fake moral panic about it, where adults start telling each other stories about what they’ve heard teenagers do. (See also: rainbow parties, ruined Halloween candy .) But here, you can see that no one is eating NyQuil chicken. The FDA knows this: they called the trick “stupid and unappetizing” and stressed that it can be dangerous even if you don’t eat the whole plate.

So this is where we are: if something appears on social media and can be done with public items, some kid somewhere will try it. See also: Tide Pod challenge in which teenagers ate or pretended to eat Tide Pods , because no one wants to eat them. That’s the whole joke.

The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t necessarily think that teens around the world view NyQuil chicken as a cool dinner recipe, but they do know that doing stupid things for Internet hotspots is the current American pastime, and one day someone ‘s going to inhale dangerous levels of coughing. syrup doing what they consider harmless click-through video.


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