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echinacea

Pronunciation

Generic Name: echinacea (eck i NAY sha)
Brand Name: Echinacea

What is echinacea?

The use of echinacea in cultural and traditional settings may differ from concepts accepted by current Western medicine. When considering the use of herbal supplements, consultation with a primary health care professional is advisable. Additionally, consultation with a practitioner trained in the uses of herbal/health supplements may be beneficial, and coordination of treatment among all health care providers involved may be advantageous.

Echinacea is also known as the American cone flower, black Susan, black Sampson, comb flower, hedgehog, Indian head, Kansas snakeroot, narrow-leaved purple coneflower, scurvy root, and snakeroot.

Echinacea has been used orally to stimulate the immune system of the body. Echinacea is most commonly used in the treatment of the common cold. Echinacea is also used topically in the treatment of wounds and burns.

Echinacea has not been evaluated by the FDA for safety, effectiveness, or purity. All potential risks and/or advantages of echinacea may not be known. Additionally, there are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for these compounds. There have been instances where herbal/health supplements have been sold which were contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.

Echinacea may also have uses other than those listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about echinacea?

Echinacea is not recommended for use by people with multiple sclerosis, white blood cell disorders, collagen disorders, HIV/AIDS, autoimmune disorders, or tuberculosis.

Echinacea has not been evaluated by the FDA for safety, effectiveness, or purity. All potential risks and/or advantages of echinacea may not be known. Additionally, there are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for these compounds. There have been instances where herbal/health supplements have been sold which were contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.

Who should not take echinacea?

Echinacea is not recommended for use by people with multiple sclerosis, white blood cell disorders, collagen disorders, HIV/AIDS, autoimmune disorders, or tuberculosis.

Before taking echinacea, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care professional if you have allergies (especially to plants), have any medical condition, or if you take other medicines or other herbal/health supplements. Echinacea may not be recommended in some situations.

Do not take echinacea without first talking to your doctor if you are pregnant or could become pregnant. It is not known whether echinacea will harm an unborn baby.

Do not take echinacea without first talking to your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby. It is also not known whether echinacea will harm a nursing infant.

There is no information available regarding the use of echinacea by children. Do not give any herbal/health supplement to a child without first talking to the child's doctor.

How should I take echinacea?

The use of echinacea in cultural and traditional settings may differ from concepts accepted by current Western medicine. When considering the use of herbal supplements, consultation with a primary health care professional is advisable. Additionally, consultation with a practitioner trained in the uses of herbal/health supplements may be beneficial, and coordination of treatment among all health care providers involved may be advantageous.

If you choose to take echinacea, use it as directed on the package or as directed by your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.

When echinacea is being used for symptoms of the common cold, it should be started as soon as the symptoms are noticed. Also, three weeks of treatment with echinacea, followed by one week without the echinacea may provide the best results.

Standardized extracts, tinctures, and solid formulations of herbal/health supplements may provide a more reliable dose of the product.

Take the pill forms of echinacea with a full glass of water.

To ensure the correct dose, measure the liquid forms of echinacea with the dropper provided or with a dose-measuring spoon or cup.

Some forms of echinacea can be brewed to form a tea for drinking.

Use the topical forms of echinacea externally only.

Do not use different formulations (e.g., tablets, topical formulations, teas, tinctures, and others) of echinacea at the same time, unless specifically directed to do so by a health care professional. Using different formulations together increases the risk of an overdose of echinacea.

Store echinacea as directed on the package. In general, echinacea should be protected from light.

What happens if I miss a dose?

No information is available regarding a missed dose of echinacea. Consult your doctor, pharmacist, or health care professional if you require further information.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention.

Symptoms of an echinacea overdose are not known.

What should I avoid while taking echinacea?

There are no restrictions on food, beverages, or activity while taking echinacea, unless otherwise directed by your health care provider.

Echinacea side effects

Although uncommon, allergic reactions to echinacea have been reported. Stop taking echinacea and seek emergency medical attention if you experience symptoms of a serious allergic reaction including difficulty breathing; closing of your throat; swelling of your lips, tongue, or face; or hives.

Other less serious side effects have also been infrequently reported. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you experience

  • a fever, or

  • nausea or vomiting.

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

What other drugs will affect echinacea?

Echinacea may alter the actions of other medicines that affect your immune system. Before taking echinacea, tell your doctor if you are taking

  • a steroid medicine including betamethasone (Celestone), dexamethasone (Hexadrol, Decadron, others), cortisone (Cortone), hydrocortisone (Cortef, Hydrocortone, others), methylprednisolone (Medrol, Solu-Medrol, others), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone, others), prednisolone (Prelone, Pediapred, others), triamcinolone (Aristocort, others), and others; or

  • cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), tacrolimus (Prograf), azathioprine (Imuran), methotrexate (Rheumatrex), or other immune system suppressants.

You may not be able to take echinacea, or you may require a dosage adjustment or special monitoring during treatment if you are taking any of the medicines listed above.

Drugs other than those listed here may also interact with echinacea. Talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care professional before taking any prescription or over-the-counter medicines or other herbal/health supplements.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider may have more information about echinacea.
  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 2.05. Revision Date: 2010-12-15, 5:01:39 PM.

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