Choosing your allergy medications - red dye 33 and 40 vs. saccharin

Little Grab has hives that we think are related to his sulfa drug issue last week (he broke out in a rash, the nurse at our doctor's office told us it couldn't be related to the medicine even though that's what happened with my sulfa drug reaction, and he last took it a week ago). After a week of hives, I was told it could last for over three weeks and I should give him more Benadryl. I rushed to the drugstore where I stood in front of the allergy medications pondering whether red dyes or saccharin were worse in large doses. How hard could it have been to create an over-the-counter antihistamine, like Benadryl, but with real sugar and no dyes? My conversation with the pharmacist went something like this, "well saccharin has been shown to cause cancer in lab rats but red dye has been shown to cause hormonal problems... he's not going to be taking high doses for an extended period of time, is he?". The friend I had dragged with me suggested we pick based on the most appetizing flavor -- we chose cherry (she's also a scientist). So, I've spent some time this evening reviewing information on dye and saccharin...

Of course none of the information I've found has made me feel better about the Benadryl. Instead, it's reinforced the desire to eat more natural products. So if you don't want to feel like you should "go organic", you might want to read a different forum topic.

There are multiple sites that link red dye with hyperactivity, ADHD, and bipolar issues. One common solution appears to be the Feingold Program which helps you eliminate certain foods to see if you have a reaction. On their site, they also have a list of links to products that I found useful. Both Trader Joes and Whole Foods were on the list. has many interesting articles on the topic including a glossary of additives with suggestions for which ones should be avoided.

A simple general rule about additives is to avoid sodium nitrite, saccharin, caffeine, olestra, acesulfame K, and artificial coloring. Not only are they among the most questionable additives, but they are used primarily in foods of low nutritional value. From

In addition to the information on the food additives, several sites talked about hives as something you don't need to treat. I am going to see how Little Grab does with small amounts of the dye-free Benadryl and feel better about the money I spend at Whole Foods.