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Benadryl Recall May Prompt Look for Natural Alternatives


The latest J&J recall of over-the-counter medications for children includes about 4 million packages of Children’s Benadryl® Allergy Fastmelt cherry and grape flavored tablets, a recall that once again sends parents to their medicine cabinets to discard more products. The recall may also prompt some parents to look for natural alternatives to Benadryl and other allergy medications for their children.

Benadryl is not the only way to treat children’s allergies

If your child suffers with allergy symptoms such as itchy, watery eyes, nasal discharge, sneezing, and stuffy nose due to hay fever or other upper respiratory allergies, over-the-counter pharmaceutical products such as Benadryl are one choice for treatment. Many of these products, however, are not recommended for children younger than six years old, typically have undesirable side effects, and frequently contain artificial colors and flavorings.

Some natural alternatives, including nutrients and herbal remedies, may be appropriate for treating children who suffer with allergies. However, parents should note that like pharmaceutical products, many natural remedies can be potent and may not be entirely without side effects themselves.

That said, there are safe, effective natural antihistamines on the market for children’s allergies. Antihistamines block the chemical histamine, which is the cause of allergic reactions.

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) has been shown in human studies to reduce sneezing and itching in people who have hay fever. Numerous combination formulas are available to treat allergies and colds in children, as well as the herbal remedy alone. Parents should check with a knowledgeable healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate dose for their child.

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Stinging nettle is generally considered to be safe when used as directly. Side effects are infrequent and may include mild stomach upset or fluid retention.

Another natural antihistamine is vitamin C, which has immune-boosting effects. Chewable vitamin C tablets are an easy way to convince children to take the supplement. To maximize the vitamin’s effectiveness, children should take divided doses throughout the day. Although vitamin C is safe even at high doses, it can cause loose bowels in some people, so check with your doctor before deciding on the dose.

Quercetin is a natural antihistamine and also has anti-inflammatory properties, which help with a stuffy nose. This nutrient works well when taken along with vitamin C, which boosts the antihistamine effect. Combination products are available.

Herbal products that contain Echinacea can enhance the immune system and alleviate symptoms of allergies, cold, and flu. Garlic juice taken twice a day for up to seven days can reduce hay fever symptoms. Many children are not fond of this remedy, so parents may need to disguise it in food, if possible.

Chamomile may reduce the severity of allergic reactions and lower inflammation in the lungs. Children who are allergic to ragweed or other plants in the ragweed family should not use chamomile.

When parents are faced with the recall of children’s allergy products such as Benadryl Allergy Fastmelt Tablets or the July 2010 recall of Bendryl® Allergy Ultratab tablets, they do not always know where to turn for options. Natural alternatives such as nutrients and herbal remedies are possibilities to explore with healthcare providers.

McNeil Product Recall
University of Maryland Medical Center



Help friend with severe itching. Just told suddenly developed allergies to her cats.