Echinacea appears to be a very safe herb, producing only minor gastrointestinal (GI) side effects and an occasional allergic reaction, usually in atopic patients already sensitized to other members of the Compositae plant family. Anaphylaxis has occurred rarely. Use in HIV is discouraged because of the concern that long-term therapy may eventually suppress the immune system.
It is recommended that echinacea not be taken by anyone for more than 8 continuous weeks, and most clinical use is under 2 weeks' duration. Echinacea has not yet been shown to be safe in pregnant or breastfeeding women and small children. No specific herb-drug interactions are reported, but for theoretical reasons those taking immunosuppressant drugs should avoid echinacea.
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