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Medications and Drugs

Brand Names:

Generic Name: echinacea (Pronunciation: eck i NAY sha)

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 are the possible side effects of echinacea ()?

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.

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.

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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