Echinacea is a herb that is known to possess immense medicinal properties. Also known as cone flower, it bears purple-colored, tall flowers. It belongs to the daisy family and is used to treat a plethora of diseases. However, it is mostly used as an immune system stimulant. It is therefore widely popular as a herbal medicine for common cold and flu. It is safe when used for a short period of time, however, side effects have also been observed in certain cases.
The herb is most often used to cure common cold and flu. It is taken after the onset of the symptoms of cold, as it helps in reducing the severity of the symptoms. However, some people take it, as soon as the symptoms surface, thinking that it will prevent the cold from developing. Research shows that it can reduce the symptoms of cold, but it is not clear whether it can prevent it from developing. It also releases chemicals which reduce the inflammation of the glands. Moreover, it is known to successfully cure yeast infections (candidiasis). However, there is lack of medical evidence to support the therapeutic properties of echinacea. Therefore, it should not to consumed without consulting your doctor.
Although, the herb can be consumed safely without any fear of side effects in most people, some people might be at a risk of developing side effects. The risk group for this herb includes:
- People who have known allergies to ragweed, marigolds, or similar plants.
- People with autoimmune disorders
- People affected by HIV
- People on immunosuppresants
- People affected by white blood cell or collagen disorders
- People affected by tuberculosis
- People who are on steroids, pregnant women, and nursing mothers should consult their doctor before taking this herb. Also, women who are planning to conceive, should refrain from its use.
Since it is an immune stimulant, it sometimes triggers the progression of the disease and can actually make it worse. Similarly, it can also induce severe allergic responses in certain cases. The various side effects of this herb include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Dry mouth
- Joint pain or muscle pain
- Unpleasant taste in mouth
- Sore throat and mouth ulcers
- Stinging or burning of the tongue
- Sense of disorientation
- Runny nose
- Itchy or watery eyes
- Skin rash or hives
- Swelling of the mouth or throat
- Difficulty in breathing
The following precautions should be taken while using this herb, to avail maximum benefits and prevent any possible side effects.
- The herb should be taken after the symptoms of cold or flu have developed.
- It should be often complemented with other immune boosters for better results.
- The dosage should be taken as per instructions only.
- Standardized extracts, solid formulations, tincture, etc., provide a more reliable dose of this herb.
- It should not be continued for more than two weeks without the opinion of your physician.
- It is advisable not to use this herb for a onger period and should be discontinued within 8 weeks.
- Always buy fresh products from a reliable source only.
Disclaimer: This HolisticZine article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.