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echinacea (generic name)

an herbal product - treats Genital herpes, Uveitis, Treatment of upper respiratory tract infections, Low white blood cell counts after X-ray treatment, Vaginal yeast infections, Immune system stimulation, and Cancer and prevents Prevention of upper respiratory tract infections
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Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia DC, Echinacea pallida, Echinacea purpurea)

Tradition

WARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Abscesses, acne, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bacterial infections, bee stings, boils, burn wounds, diphtheria, dizziness, eczema, gingivitis, gum inflammation (pyorrhea), hemorrhoids, herpes labialis, HIV/AIDS, influenza, malaria, menopause, migraine headache, mouth sores, nasal congestion/runny nose, pain, psoriasis, rheumatism, skin ulcers, snake bites, stomach upset, syphilis, tonsillitis, typhoid, urinary disorders, urinary tract infections, whooping cough (pertussis).

Dosing

Adults (over 18 years old)

There is no proven effective medicinal dose for echinacea. Echinacea is commercially available as capsules, expressed juice, extract, tincture and tea. A common dosing range studied in trials is 500 to 1,000 milligrams of echinacea in capsule form taken by mouth three times daily for five to seven days. As an extract, 300 to 800 milligrams of echinacea has been taken by mouth two to three times daily for up to six months.

When applied on the skin, echinacea 15% pressed herb (non-root) juice semisolid preparation has been used daily for wounds and skin ulcers. Injected echinacea is not available commercially. Severe reactions to injected echinacea have been reported, and echinacea injections are not recommended.

Children (under 18 years old)

The dosing and safety of echinacea have not been studied thoroughly in children. Parents considering echinacea for their children should discuss this decision with the child's healthcare provider before starting therapy. Some natural medicine practitioners recommend basing children's doses based on weight. The safety of echinacea injections is not established, and injections are not advised.

Safety

DISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.

Allergies

People with allergies to plants in the Asteraceae or Compositae family (ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies) are theoretically more likely to have allergic reactions to echinacea. Multiple cases of anaphylactic shock (severe allergic reactions) and allergic rash have been reported with echinacea taken by mouth. Allergic reactions including itching, rash, wheezing, facial swelling, and anaphylaxis may occur more commonly in people with asthma or other allergies. Echinacea injections have caused severe reactions and are not recommended.

Echinacea has been associated with an increased incidence of rash in children. Therefore, the risks may outweigh potential benefits, and use in children is not recommended.

Side Effects and Warnings

Few side effects from echinacea are reported when it is used at the recommended doses. Reported complaints include stomach discomfort, nausea, sore throat, rash (allergic, hives, or painful lumps called "erythema nodosum"), drowsiness, headache, dizziness, and muscle aches. Rare cases of hepatitis (liver inflammation), kidney failure, or irregular heart rate (atrial fibrillation) have been reported in people taking echinacea, although it is not clear that these were due to echinacea itself. Injected echinacea may alter blood sugar levels and cause severe reactions and should be avoided. Echinacea has been associated with an increased incidence of rash in children, and therefore the risks of use may outweigh potential benefits. Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) has also been reported.

Some natural medicine experts discourage the use of echinacea by people with conditions affecting the immune system, such as HIV/AIDS, some types of cancer, multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis, and rheumatologic diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus). However, there is a lack of specific studies or reports in this area, and the risks of echinacea use with these conditions are not clear. Long-term use of this herb may cause low white blood cell counts (leukopenia).

Liver transplant patients who consume large amounts of echinacea may have increased liver enzyme activity, which often indicates liver damage. Although the relevance of this is not clear, liver transplant patients should use echinacea cautiously due to its potential hazards.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

At this time, echinacea cannot be recommended during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Although early studies show no effect of echinacea on pregnancy, there is not enough research in this area. Pregnant women should avoid tinctures because of the potentially high alcohol content.

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