Phenylephrine: Say What?

netty pot

It’s winter again and that means everyone has a cold. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating. But a lot of people are suffering from stuffy noses, coughs, sinus pressure, and the list goes on.

You head to the store looking for some medicine and you quickly find yourself looking at a wall full of options. Suppressants, decongestants, expectorants, antihistamines; what do they all do and which ones do you need?

Well, I’m no doctor so I’m not going to tell you what to get and what not to get, but I will tell you what I learned in looking into some of the drugs for congestion relief.


This stuff is for realz. I say that for three reasons: (1) people make meth from it, (2) they sell it behind the counter, and (3) it seems to be the only true nasal decongestant drug that works.

But I’m afraid to take it, BECAUSE THEY MAKE METH FROM IT!

I know people who swear by it, so again, I’m no doctor. I’m just a guy afraid to take pseudoephedrine.

The Substitute

Once I started looking closely at the drugs in the various cold meds I realized that they really are all the same. This is what I found in most cold/cough meds: acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, guaifenesin, diphenhydramine, and phenylephrine.

Now acetaminophen is the primary ingredient and that’s the same as Tylenol. The only other ingredient I’m going to get into is phenylephrine, because I was buying this medicine for the nasal decongestant and phenylephrine is listed as the decongestant drug.

This is what Wikipedia says about phenylephrine: “Phenylephrine is marketed as an alternative for the decongestant pseudoephedrine, though clinical studies show phenylephrine to be no more effective than placebo.”


For those that don’t know… “placebo is a harmless pill, medicine, or procedure prescribed more for the psychological benefit to the patient than for any physiological effect.” This according to the dictionary.

No wonder my nose is still stuffy.

Enter, Neti Pot

I’ve used a Neti Pot for quite some time since I generally have sinus trouble. However, what I didn’t know is that you can use it up to every two hours throughout the day.

So after I took this placebo nasal decongestant for weeks since I’m too afraid to take pseudoephedrine, I finally turned to the good old Neti Pot. And it works pretty well. For me.

Once again, I’m not telling anyone what to do for their situation. I’m simply relaying some info. Do what you will. And I hope you find something that helps because sinus pressure is a real pain in the nose/face/head.

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