Is Echinacea Safe?

Specific Echinacea Safety Warnings and Precautions

Warnings and precautions to be aware of concerning the safety of echinacea include the following:
 
  • Echinacea is a plant that is related to daisies, ragweed, chrysanthemums, and marigolds. People allergic to these plants may also be allergic to echinacea products.
     
  • People with a tendency to have allergies (such as hay fever, food allergies, or medication allergies) might be at a higher risk for an allergy to echinacea. Some allergic reactions can be severe and even life-threatening.
     
  • Be sure to look for echinacea supplements from a reputable manufacturer. Your pharmacist is a good resource for information about which manufacturers are most reputable. There have been reports that some supplements contain less than the labeled amount of echinacea or the wrong species of echinacea, or are contaminated with lead, arsenic, or other contaminants.
     
  • As dietary supplements, echinacea supplements are not as closely regulated as prescription or non-prescription drugs. They can be marketed without any proof that they are either safe or effective. Do not assume that just because a product is sold or advertised in the United States that it is safe or effective, or even that it contains the right ingredients in the right amounts.
     
  • It is possible that echinacea might worsen autoimmune diseases by stimulating the immune system. If your autoimmune disease worsens while you are taking echinacea, you should stop taking it. If you have a severe or life-threatening autoimmune disease, it is probably best to avoid taking echinacea altogether.
     
  • It is not known if echinacea is safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women (see Echinacea and Pregnancy and Echinacea and Breastfeeding).
     
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