I used to struggle to stay awake during the day when I was working in Bangkok. This made office hours a chore and I often found myself taking mini naps of between five and 10 seconds to get through the day. Every now and then I’d take a mini nap and do that thing where your body sort of jumps back out of sleep for comedic effect. I tried to pass off such convulsions as part of a vigorous stretching routine; I’m not sure if anyone was fooled.
I was sick one day and went to get some aspirin. As you can imagine in Thailand, the whole HR department freaked out and supplied me with all manner of colored pills – all this for a headache and a runny nose! Thailand wastes a lot of money on unneeded medicine, but I got a little something extra from the cocktail of medicines I was given – I got the Actifed effect.
I spent the rest of the day high as a kite and stole the pack for future experimentation. Actifed is available over the counter in Thailand and it’s commonly used by people who have colds. One of the side effects of Actifed is that it perks you up like you’ve drunk half-a-dozen cups of coffee.
Feeling a bit dozy this afternoon, I necked my remaining two pills and got on with work in a kind of hazy bubble. I wouldn’t recommend anybody take Actifed every time they feel tired, but now and then it seems to be more effective than Red Bull. As for coffee, well, I can’t drink it without shaking afterwards and feeling like my head is about to explode.
Actifed in Thailand is made of 2.5mg Triprolidine and 60mg pseudoephedrine. It was the pseudoephedrine that had bells ringing in my head. Ephedrine is commonly used by students and office workers to stay alert and awake. It’s also occasionally passed off as ecstasy in clubs. The effect is similar to a strong cup of coffee.
Pseudoephedrine can have similar effects, as I will testify to. Outside of Thailand, Pfizer, the company that makes Actifed, changed the formula to contain 4mg chlorpheniramine maleate instead of pseudoephedrine. This change hasn’t hit all of Thailand’s pharmacies yet.
Have you come across any other weird and wonderful over-the-counter medicines in Thailand?