Medically Reviewed on 10/31/2022

Generic Name: echinacea

Other Names: black sampson, black Susans, Brauneria angustifolia, Brauneria pallida, Brauneria spp, Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, Echinacea purpurea, Indian head, purple cone flower, red sunflower

Drug Class: Herbals

What is echinacea, and what is it used for?

Echinacea is a group of flowering wild plants belonging to the daisy family (Asteraceae/Compositae), commonly called coneflowers. Echinacea species including Echinacea purpurea, E. angustifolia and E. pallida are medicinal herbs native to North America.

Extracts from echinacea have been traditionally used to treat various ailments including common cold, skin disorders, wounds, and respiratory and other infections.

The therapeutic properties of echinacea may come from its bioactive compounds including echinacosides, caffeic acids, alkylamides, polysaccharides, and glycoproteins. Echinacea is believed to have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, antitumor, and immune-boosting properties. Echinacea may have some effect in reducing symptoms and preventing cold, however, there is no scientific evidence for its therapeutic efficacy in any of its other uses.

Suggested uses of echinacea include:




What are the side effects of echinacea?

Common side effects of echinacea include:



  • Redness (erythema)
  • Itching (pruritus)
  • Widespread rash (exanthema)

Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms or serious side effects while using this drug:

This is not a complete list of all side effects or adverse reactions that may occur from the use of this drug. Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may also report side effects or health problems to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


How to Get Rid of a Cold: Natural Remedies See Slideshow

What are the dosages of echinacea?

There isn’t enough reliable information to know what an appropriate dose of echinacea might be. Suggested dosing:

Herb juice

  • 6-9 ml orally daily or
  • 20 drops per minute orally every 2 hours for 24 hours then continue three times daily

Crude herb extract

  • 2 tabs (6.78 mg) orally three times daily

Echinacea pallida root tincture

  • 900 mg orally daily

Herbal compound tea

  • 5-6 cups orally on day 1, then decrease by 1 cup/day over 5 days

Dosing considerations

  • No more than 8 weeks of continuous use


  • Apply to the affected area


  • Echinacea overdose may cause gastrointestinal upset and skin rashes, but is unlikely to cause any serious or life-threatening adverse effects.
  • There have been a few rare cases of allergic reactions including anaphylaxis. Overdose treatment is symptomatic and supportive.

What drugs interact with echinacea?

Inform your doctor of all medications you are currently taking, who can advise you on any possible drug interactions. Never begin taking, suddenly discontinue, or change the dosage of any medication without your doctor’s recommendation.

Echinacea has no known severe interactions with other drugs.

Serious interactions of echinacea include:

  • beclomethasone, inhaled

Echinacea has moderate interactions with at least 34 different drugs.

Mild interactions of echinacea include:

  • astragalus
  • maitake

The drug interactions listed above are not all of the possible interactions or adverse effects. For more information on drug interactions, visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker.

It is important to always tell your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider about all prescription and over-the-counter medications you use, as well as the dosage for each, and keep a list of the information. Check with your doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions about the medication.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

  • Available data suggest echinacea may not cause fetal harm or adverse pregnancy outcomes, however, there are no well-controlled studies on the safety of echinacea use during pregnancy, avoid use.
  • There is no information on the presence of echinacea in breast milk, avoid use if you are breastfeeding.
  • Never take any herbal supplement without first checking with your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

What else should I know about echinacea?

  • Echinacea extracts are possibly safe for most adults when taken orally in recommended doses, or when topically applied.
  • Check with your healthcare provider before taking any herbal supplement, including echinacea.
  • Use echinacea exactly as per label instructions.
  • Herbal products often contain many ingredients. Check labels for the components in the echinacea product you choose.
  • Echinacea is marketed as an herbal supplement and is not regulated by the FDA. Products may differ in formulations and strengths, and labels may not always match contents; exercise caution in choosing your product.
  • Store safely out of reach of children.


Echinacea is a group of flowering wild plants belonging to the daisy family (Asteraceae/Compositae), commonly called coneflowers. Extracts from echinacea have been traditionally used to treat various ailments including the common cold, skin disorders, wounds, and respiratory and other infections. Do not use echinacea if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Common side effects of echinacea include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, unpleasant taste, sore throat, fever, dizziness, altered fertility, severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), redness (erythema), itching (pruritus), and widespread rash (exanthema).

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Medically Reviewed on 10/31/2022