One study on echinacea and pregnancy suggested that the supplement did not increase the risk of birth defects. However, there is no research available about whether the supplement may cause other problems in a pregnant woman, such as miscarriages or low birth weight. If you are taking echinacea and pregnancy occurs, talk to your healthcare provider about the benefits and potential risks.
An Overview of Echinacea and Pregnancy
Many Web sites and other sources state that echinacea is safe for use during pregnancy. However, there is not enough scientific evidence at this point to know for sure if this supplement is safe for pregnant women.
Is Echinacea Safe During Pregnancy?
Most claims about the safety of echinacea during pregnancy are based on a single study that suggested echinacea use did not increase the risk of birth defects. It is not wise to assume a medication or herbal supplement is safe based on the results of a single study. Also, there is no research available about whether this herbal supplement might cause other problems during pregnancy, such as miscarriages, low birth weight, preterm birth, or other complications.
Just because echinacea is a natural product does not mean it is safe for use during pregnancy. Many toxins, poisons, and drugs are natural substances. It should not be assumed that a natural product is always safe or is any safer than a conventional medication. In addition, some echinacea supplements have been shown to be contaminated with lead, arsenic, or other contaminants that can be especially dangerous during pregnancy.
If you are pregnant, it is always a good idea to have a discussion with your healthcare provider before taking any medication or supplement, including echinacea.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Jellin JM, editor. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Available at: http://naturaldatabase.com/. Accessed August 20, 2008.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Echinacea: Effects on liver disease and cirrhosis and clinical adverse effects. Summary, evidence report/technology assessment: Number 21 (September 2000). AHRQ Web site. Available at: http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/epcsums/milktsum.htm. Accessed August 11, 2008.
National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. National Institutes of Health. Herbs at a glance: Echinacea (March 2008). NCCAM Web site. Available at: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/echinacea/. Accessed August 20, 2008.
Briggs GG, Freeman RK, Yaffe SJ. Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation. 7th ed. Philadelphia (PA): Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2005.
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