read the label - Benadryl and ZzzQuil

read the label - Benadryl and ZzzQuil


I'm sure we're all familiar with Benadryl - the super strong allergy medicine which has the side effect, sometimes nasty and sometimes helpful, of knocking you out faster than a horse tranquilizer. Everyone in my family has seasonal allergies, and over the years Benadryl has become our go-to nighttime stop sneezing and sniffling and get some sleep helper, when the need arises.

*** See Also: "13 Thoughts on Getting a Better Night's Sleep"

Here's a picture I took at the store yesterday:

It shows the active ingredient in the center of the package:

Diphenhydramine HCI | Antihistamine

I took a picture of the back of the package, too, just to confirm this was the only active ingredient:


I've been hearing about this new product from Vicks, the makers of NyQuil, that's a sleeping aid without having the medicine of NyQuil. (because NyQuil is another one that can knock you out - in fact, their advertising slogan "the nighttime sniffling sneezing coughing aching stuffy head fever so you can rest medicine" should clue you in on that.) So we know the company makes a product that makes you sleep (as a side effect), and now they're releasing a product specifically as a sleep aid. I was curious about it, so I checked it out while I was at the store yesterday.

Here's a picture of ZzzQuil:

Well, that's interesting - it has the same main ingredient listed on the front of the box as Benadryl:

Diphenhydramine HCI | Nighttime Sleep-Aid

Again, I took a picture of the back of the box, too:

Hmmmm. Very interesting. They both have the exact same ingredient, in the same strength, but they claim it's used for different purposes. The only difference I see is in the dosage: Benadryl recommends using 1 or 2 tablets per dose (at my house we sometimes break them in half and only use half a tablet), while ZzzQuil recommends using 2 per dose (and since they're LiquiCaps you can't break them in half).

OK, so it's the same product, manufactured by different companies and marketed towards different purposes.

Next let's look at price (all prices below clipped from

Benadryl costs $6.97 for 48 caplets: 14.52 cents per caplet

There's also a generic version which sells at $4.00 for 100 caplets: 4.0 cents per caplet.

And ZzzQuil - the brand-new sleep aid? 48 LiquiCaps will run you $12.97: that's 27.02 cents per cap - and you're instructed to take 2 of them!

Or you could buy the generic of this one - 100 mini-caplets for $4.98: 4.98 cents per caplet.


Bottom Line

Read the labels. Know what you're buying, what you're putting into your body, and how much you're paying for it. Sometimes the generic is the same exact thing at half the price. Sometimes the generic uses inferior ingredients. And sometimes two companies will make the same product, market it for different purposes, and charge different amounts!

-Chris Butterworth

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