Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

Avoid in people who are allergic or sensitive to echinacea, its parts, or any members of the Asteraceae or Compositae family (such as chrysanthemums, daisies, marigolds, and ragweed).

People who have asthma or atopy (tendency for allergic asthma, eye and skin allergies, food allergy, or hay fever) may be more likely to have allergic reactions after taking echinacea by mouth or applying it to the skin. Hives, itching, low blood pressure, lung spasm, rash, severe allergic reaction, shock, skin redness, and swelling under the skin have been reported with echinacea use.

Increased risk of rash has been reported after the use of echinacea for cold symptom treatment in children aged 2-11 years.

Side Effects and Warnings

Echinacea is likely safe when taken by mouth or applied to the skin in suggested doses for up to eight weeks.

Echinacea is thought to be possibly safe when used in children and in pregnant women if taken as directed. However, more safety information is needed.

Use cautiously in people who have heart disease. Echinacea may cause abnormal or irregular heartbeat.

Caution is advised in people who are taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.

Use cautiously in people who have skin disorders. Echinacea may cause burning sensations, hives, itching, rashes, and skin redness.

Use cautiously when used in injectable form, especially for people who have diabetes, according to experts.

Use cautiously in people who are taking agents that may affect the immune system, agents that may affect the liver's processing of drugs, amoxicillin, corticosteroids, or kava.

Use tinctures cautiously in pregnant women and alcoholics, and in people who are taking disulfiram or metronidazole.

Use cautiously in people who have or are at risk of liver disorders or are taking a large amount of echinacea. Echinacea may cause liver damage.

Use cautiously in people who are taking agents that may be toxic to the liver (including anabolic steroids, amiodarone, methotrexate, and ketoconazole). Echinacea may cause liver inflammation.

Use cautiously in children who have colds. Echinacea may increase the risk of ear infection.

Use cautiously when used long-term. Long-term echinacea may cause reduced white blood cell count. Echinacea may cause a blood disorder in which blood clots form in small blood vessels, leading to a low platelet count.

Use cautiously in people who have abnormally high iron levels, abnormal white blood cell count, AIDs, arthritis or other joint diseases, atopy (tendency for allergic asthma, eye and skin allergies, food allergy, or hay fever), autoimmune diseases, cancer, chronic headaches or migraines, collagen disease, HIV, kidney disease, mental disorders (anxiety or nervousness), multiple sclerosis, sleep disorders, stomach problems, and tuberculosis.

Avoid in people who are allergic or sensitive to echinacea, its parts, or any members of the Asteraceae or Compositae family (such as chrysanthemums, daisies, marigolds, and ragweed).

Avoid using in combination with anesthesia.

Avoid using in people who are preparing to undergo transplant surgery.

Echinacea may also cause anxiety and nervousness, bad taste, bronchitis, constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, dry throat, dry mouth, fatigue, headache, heartburn, joint pain, kidney failure, mild drowsiness, mild nausea, mouth irritation, numb tongue, pemphigus vulgaris (autoimmune disease causing blistering, sore skin), sleep problems, sperm motility, stomach pain, upset stomach, and vomiting.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Research suggests that echinacea is one of the most commonly used herbal supplements in women before and during pregnancy. However, safety information is limited on the use of echinacea in breastfeeding women, pregnant women, or women who are trying to become pregnant.

This evidence-based monograph was prepared by The Natural Standard Research Collaboration

www.naturalstandard.com