Echinacea

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How does Echinacea work?

Echinacea seems to activate chemicals in the body that decrease inflammation, which might reduce cold and flu symptoms. Laboratory research suggests that echinacea can stimulate the body's immune system, but there's no evidence that this occurs in people. Echinacea also seems to contain some chemicals that can attack yeast and other kinds of fungus directly.

Are there safety concerns?

Echinacea seems to be safe for most people when used short-term. There is not enough information to know if echinacea is safe for long-term use. Some side effects have been reported such as fever, nausea, vomiting, unpleasant taste, stomach pain, diarrhea, sore throat, dry mouth, headache, numbness of the tongue, dizziness, insomnia, disorientation, and joint and muscle aches.

Echinacea can also cause allergic reactions, especially in people who are allergic to ragweed, mums, marigolds, or daisies. If you have allergies, be sure to check with your healthcare professional before taking echinacea.

Applying echinacea to the skin can cause redness, itchiness, or a rash.

Do not take echinacea if:
  • You are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • You have a skin condition called pemphigus vulgaris.
  • You have an immune system disorder such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other immune system conditions called "autoimmune disease."

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.


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