Cold Home > Echinacea Side Effects

Although most people do not experience any problems while taking echinacea, side effects are possible. Some of the side effects that have been reported with the supplement include nausea, joint pain, heartburn, and insomnia. Unpredictable side effects of echinacea are also possible due to contaminants (herbal supplements are sometimes contaminated with other herbs, medications, or even heavy metals).

Echinacea Side Effects: An Overview

Echinacea is an herbal supplement used for the common cold and a variety of other different uses (see Benefits of Echinacea for more information). Many people assume that echinacea is automatically free of side effects because it is "natural." However, any natural product with medicinal properties is capable of causing side effects. Although there are several documented echinacea side effects, most people usually tolerate it well.
(This article covers many, but not all, of the possible side effects with echinacea. Your healthcare provider can discuss a more complete list of echinacea side effects with you.)

Possible Side Effects of Echinacea

A few clinical studies have reported side effects with echinacea. These possible side effects include:
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain (stomach pain)
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Fever
  • Dry mouth
  • Joint pain or muscle pain
  • Unpleasant taste
  • Sore throat or mouth ulcers
  • Tingling or burning of the tongue
  • Insomnia
  • Disorientation
  • Dizziness
  • Allergic reaction, which may cause symptoms such as:
    • Runny nose
    • Itchy or watery eyes
    • A rash or hives
    • Itching
    • Swelling of the mouth or throat
    • Wheezing
    • Difficulty breathing.
Be sure to seek immediate medical attention if you think you may be having an allergic reaction to echinacea.
Unpredictable echinacea side effects are also possible due to contaminants in certain products. Because herbs and supplements are not as tightly regulated as prescription or non-prescription drugs, they are sometimes contaminated with other herbs, medications, or even heavy metals. In order to avoid such problems, it is important to choose a high-quality supplement from a trustworthy manufacturer.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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