Echinacea – Can It Fend Off a Cold?
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Echinacea, or purple coneflower, is a medicinal herb that has been used for centuries to help treat and prevent colds, flu, and other infections. The theory is that echinacea stimulates the immune system. Though some studies have found no proof that echinacea shortens the course of colds and flu, others have reported that it may be helpful in treating upper respiratory infections.
If you decide to try echinacea, keep in mind that just because it's natural doesn't mean it doesn't have side effects. These include:
- Allergic reactions, including rashes, worsened asthma, and anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction). These side effects are particularly common in people allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, and daisies.
- Gastrointestinal problems.
If you choose to use echinacea, inform your health care provider to ensure safe and coordinated care.
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