Histamine is produced by the immune system to fight off infections. Sometimes, however, the body may mistake a relatively benign foreign body, like pollen, as an agent of infection and will secrete histamines, causing an allergic reaction. In such cases, antihistamines can be used to alleviate the symptoms caused by histamines, which are available as lotions, capsules, creams, nasal sprays and gels. Beyond allergies, they can also be used to treat conditions like motion sickness, insomnia, hay fever and stomach ulcers. When it comes to antihistamine, breastfeeding women should be really careful.

Can You Use Antihistamine When Breastfeeding?

The biggest concern that breastfeeding mothers have is the possibility of the drugs being passed on to their babies through breast milk. Under the doctor's instruction you can use some types of antihistamine during breastfeeding without harming your babies. Although most antihistamine medicines carry warnings about their use during breastfeeding, some of these warnings are generic and it's important to discuss the medicine with your healthcare provider.

1. Non-Sedative Antihistamines

When choosing an antihistamine, breastfeeding moms should choose a non-sedating variety which contains loratadine. Data has shown that small doses of loratadine, if used as instructed, will only allow a miniscule quantity of it into breast milk, which is unlikely to pose any effects on a baby. Fexofenadine and cetirizine are another 2 antihistamines breastfeeding moms can use for a short time.

2. Sedative Antihistamines

Sedative antihistamines like trimeprazine and promethazine may be used by some breastfeeding women. These medicines have a sedative effect, so you should avoid them or only use them under doctor's supervision. Secretion of these drugs into breast milk can make a baby lethargic and cantankerous. The safer alternative for antihistamine during breastfeeding is to use natural antihistamines as these will not have any adverse effects if ingested by a baby.

Natural Antihistamines to Use During Breastfeeding

As for the natural alternatives for antihistamine, breastfeeding moms can use them to alleviate allergic symptoms without causing any problem.

1. Vitamin C

Citrus fruits contain natural antihistamines like vitamin C and bioflavonoids. This powerful combination can inhibit the action of histamines while providing auxiliary health benefits, such as improving immunity and detoxifying. Vitamin C in itself is a good antihistamine and other foods that rich vitamin C should be add into your diet, including honeydew, pineapple, asparagus, peaches, calf liver, papaya, mango, watercress, broccoli, tomatoes and cayenne pepper.

2. Flavonoids

Flavonoids are natural coloring agents present in many fruits, flowers and vegetables. An example of flavonoids, quercetin, helps control mastocytes which is in charge of releasing histamine in the body. So flavonoids can be useful to control allergies and subsequent inflammation. You can get flavonoids from onions, apples, broccoli, lettuce, garlic, legumes, tea, parsley, wine contain quercetin, etc.

3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

You may have known that omega-3 fatty acids can promote health. Actually, it is also a very good antihistamine. Breastfeeding moms can use its anti-inflammatory nature to get better health and fight allergies. Useful sources of omega-3s are walnuts, canola oil, flax seed oil, cold-water fish and grass-fed meat.

4. Ginko

A Chinese herb popular in Ayurveda, ginko can be very useful as an antihistamine. This herb is generally associated with improving vigilance and memory. It is also used to treat bronchitis, tinnitus, glaucoma, asthma and problems in blood circulation

5. Jewelweed

Native Americans used jewelweed as a traditional method to treat the adverse effects of poison ivy. Poison ivy causes an allergic response in human body by producing histamines, while jewelweed can counter that. The constituents of this herb act like corticosteroids, making it useful in other histamine reactions like bee stings and contact dermatitis.

6. Stinging Nettle

Another natural antihistamine, breastfeeding moms can use is stinging nettle. Despite the image the name may produce, the stinging nettle is very useful in ensuring good health. It has a natural ability to inhibit the action of histamines and is very useful to reduce the effect of seasonal allergies. Stinging nettle has found use in treatment of gout, hay fever, aching joints and eczema.

Unlike synthetic antihistamines, natural remedies are slow acting and it advised to use them for a period of 6 weeks prior to the onset of allergies. Therefore, the regular intake of these natural antihistamines can provide a safe way to prevent the onset of an allergic reaction in lactating mothers.