In a nutshell
No, it’s not recommended to take Lemsip when pregnant
The expert view
Lemsip may seem like a safe option for a cold during pregnancy but, like other over the counter medicines, it can contain ingredients that are not ok to take when you are pregnant.
There are several varieties of Lemsip, each containing different ingredients, so it’s important to be sure what is in them.
While the NHS advises you should take medical advice before having Lemsip Max All-in-One if you are pregnant, or even trying to conceive, all the varieties include the nasal decongestant phenylephrine hydrochloride.
“Many cold and flu remedies such as Lemsip contain decongestants which are not safe to take during pregnancy,” warns MFM’s GP Dr Philippa Kaye.
This can be dangerous for women with history of pre-eclampsia, as it can narrow blood vessels.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) – which licenses medicines including Lemsip’s Max All-in-One capsules – advises there are “no ill-effects of using paracetamol when pregnant, but phenylephrine hydrochloride should be used with caution with patients with a history of pre-eclampsia because it has vasoconstrictive properties and may reduce placental perfusion (blood flow)”.
One of the other ingredients, guaifenesin – which helps with chest congestion – has been linked with an increased risk of neural tube defects in a small number of women with febrile defects in the first trimester.
What does Lemsip actually contain?
Lemsip Original Cold & Flu
These hot drinks in lemon or blackcurrant contain 650mg of paracetamol, as well as 10mg phenylephrine hydrochloride.
The hot drinks in lemon, blackcurrant, apple and cinnamon, and honey and ginger flavor contain 1000mg paracetamol and 12.2mg phenylephrine hydrochloride.
They also come as tablets, which contain 500mg paracetamol, plus 6.1mg phenylephrine hydrochloride per tablet.
The Lemsip Max capsules contain 1000mg paracetamol, 12.2mg phenylephrine hydrochloride, and 50mg caffeine per two capsule dose.
Lemsip Max All-in-One
These come as hot drinks in lemon, wild berry & hot orange, and breathe easy flavours, containing 1000mg paracetamol, 12.2mg phenylephrine hydrochloride, and 200mg guaifenesin
The Max All-in-One capsules each contain 500mg paracetomol, 6.1mg phenylephrine hydrochloride, and 100mg guaifensesin.
Lemsip Max All-in-One also comes as a liquid, and each 20ml dose contains 1000mg paracetamol, 12.18mg phenylephrine hydrochloride, 200mg guaifenesin, and 3mg cetylpyridinium chloride, an antiseptic.
Dr Kaye advises the best option for a cold is to use simple paracetamol and steam.
“Inhale the steam from recently boiled water, this helps loosen the mucous in your nose and chest; saline nose sprays can also be used to loosen mucous,” she says.
Mums on our forum say
“If you are worried [about taking medicines], you can make your own Lemsip. Half a fresh lemon, big spoon of honey, plus boiling water. Swallow a couple of paracetamol, and you just sip it like a Lemsip. Lemon’s a natural decongestant, honey sees to your sore throat. Took me a couple of tries to get the taste right but it does the trick.” Theoldwomanwholivesinashoe
“When I had my cold I was having half a lemon juiced with a teaspoon of manuka honey and topped up with hot water, drank it as hot as I could bear and that really soothed the coughs. Also I have discovered a non-alcoholic chest-warmer – a lovely warming ginger drink called Rochester, it has quite a kick and really helps to clear the congested feeling.” Ginger_wookey