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Echinacea

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

Medically reviewed on January 29, 2018.

What is echinacea?

Echinacea is an herb also known as Purple Cone Flower, Black Sampson, Black Susans, Fleur à Hérisson, Hedgehog, Igelkopfwurzel, Indian Head, Kansas Snakeroot, Red Sunflower, Rock-Up-Hat, Roter Sonnenhut, Rudbeckie Pourpre, Scurvy Root, Snakeroot, and many other names.

Echinacea has been used in alternative medicine as a possibly effective aid in treating the common cold, or vaginal yeast infections.

Echinacea has also been used to treat ear infections, or increasing exercise performance. However, research has shown that echinacea may not be effective in these conditions.

Other uses not proven with research have included treating anxiety, migraine headache, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), gingivitis, tonsillitis, genital herpes, human papilloma virus (HPV), low white blood cell counts, bladder infections, an eye condition called uveitis, and other conditions.

It is not certain whether echinacea is effective in treating any medical condition. Medicinal use of this product has not been approved by the FDA. Echinacea should not be used in place of medication prescribed for you by your doctor.

Echinacea is often sold as an herbal supplement. There are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for many herbal compounds and some marketed supplements have been found to be 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 be used for purposes not listed in this product guide.

Important Information

Follow all directions on the product label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use this product if you are allergic to echinacea or if you have:

Ask a doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider if it is safe for you to use this product if you have any allergies, especially plant allergies (especially ragweed, mums, marigolds, or daisies).

It is not known whether echinacea will harm an unborn baby. Do not use this product without medical advice if you are pregnant.

It is not known whether echinacea passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use this product without medical advice if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Do not give any herbal/health supplement to a child without medical advice. Echinacea should not be used in a child younger than 12 years old.

How should I take echinacea?

When considering the use of herbal supplements, seek the advice of your doctor. You may also consider consulting a practitioner who is trained in the use of herbal/health supplements.

If you choose to use echinacea, use it as directed on the package or as directed by your doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider. Do not use more of this product than is recommended on the label.

Echinacea is believed to work best when taken at the first sign of a cold. Although echinacea may not prevent a cold, this product might make cold symptoms less severe.

Do not take topical (for the skin) echinacea by mouth. Topical forms of this product are for use only on the skin.

Do not use different forms (tablets, liquid, tincture, teas, etc) of echinacea at the same time without medical advice. Using different formulations together increases the risk of an overdose.

Call your doctor if the condition you are treating with echinacea does not improve, or if it gets worse while using this product.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not use extra echinacea to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking echinacea?

Avoid coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks, or other products that contain caffeine. Taking echinacea with caffeinated products can increase caffeine side effects such as headache, increased heart rate, and feeling jittery.

Echinacea side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Although not all side effects are known, echinacea is thought to be possibly safe when taken for a short period of time.

Common side effects may include:

Echinacea applied to the skin in a topical form can cause an itchy or red skin rash.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. 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?

Do not take echinacea without medical advice if you are using a medication to treat any of the following conditions:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with echinacea, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this product guide.

Further information

  • Consult with a licensed healthcare professional before using any herbal/health supplement. Whether you are treated by a medical doctor or a practitioner trained in the use of natural medicines/supplements, make sure all your healthcare providers know about all of your medical conditions and treatments.

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.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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