echinacea (generic name)
- Auto Immune Conditions
- Bladder & Kidney Health
- Brain & Nervous System
- Care Transitions
- Dental Health
- Emotional Health
- Eye Health
- Falls Prevention
- Financial Planning
- General Safety
- Health Care Basics
- Healthy Living
- Hearing Loss
- Heart Health
- High Blood Pressure
- Life Transitions
- Lung Health
- Men's Health
- Nutrition & Weight Management
- Pain Management
- Preventive Health
- Sexual Health
- Stomach & Digestive Health
- Stress & Anxiety
- Women's Health
EvidenceDISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Prevention of upper respiratory tract infections (adults and children):
Preliminary studies suggest that echinacea is not helpful for preventing the common cold in adults. A recent meta-analysis suggested that standardized extracts of echinacea were effective in the prevention of symptoms of the common cold after clinical inoculation, compared with placebo. In children, a combination of echinacea, propolis, and vitamin C has been reported to reduce the number and duration of cold episodes. However, prevention research overall has not been well designed, and additional trials are needed before a clear conclusion can be drawn.
Treatment of upper respiratory tract infections (adults):
Although multiple low quality studies have previously suggested that taking echinacea by mouth by adults when cold symptoms begin may reduce the length and severity of symptoms, a clinical trial reported in July 2005 did not demonstrate any clinical benefit. Recent meta-analyses are conflicting; one suggested that standardized extracts of echinacea were effective in the prevention of symptoms of the common cold after clinical inoculation, compared with placebo, whereas the other reported no such benefit. Further research is needed.
There is a lack of clear human evidence that echinacea affects any type of cancer.
Immune system stimulation:
Echinacea has been studied alone and in combination preparations for immune system stimulation (including in patients receiving cancer chemotherapy). It remains unclear if there are clinically significant benefits. Additional studies are needed in this area before conclusions can be drawn regarding safety or effectiveness.
Low white blood cell counts after X-ray treatment (leukopenia):
Studies have reported mixed results, and it is not clear whether echinacea has benefits for this use.
Uveitis (eye inflammation):
Oral Echinacea purpurea may offer some benefits in people with low-grade uveitis. Further research is needed to confirm these findings.
Vaginal yeast infections:
When echinacea is used at the same time as the prescription cream econazole nitrate (Spectazole®), vaginal yeast infections (Candida) may occur less frequently. However, further research is needed to confirm this.
Initial human studies suggest that echinacea is not helpful in the treatment of genital herpes.
Treatment of upper respiratory tract infections (children):
Initial research suggests that echinacea may not be helpful in children for alleviation of cold symptoms, possibly because parents are not able to recognize the onset of common cold symptoms soon enough to begin treatment, or because the dose of echinacea for use in children is not clear. There are fundamental differences in causes of upper respiratory tract infection symptoms in children versus adults (bacterial versus viral causes, different viruses, different sites of infection, etc). Until additional research is available, echinacea cannot be considered effective in children for this use. Furthermore, development of rash has been associated with echinacea use, and therefore the risks may outweigh the potential benefits in this population.