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Echinacea for the Common Cold

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Are There Side Effects? continued...

Echinacea might also not be safe for people who use certain drugs. Examples are some medications for heart problems -- like amiodarone (CordaronePacerone) -- and some anti-fungal treatments. The combination of echinacea and these medicines could cause liver damage.

Some experts say you shouldn't take echinacea for more than 8 weeks at a time. Although there is no evidence that the herb would cause harm after this point, doctors don't know enough yet about its long-term safety.

Keep in mind that herbal remedies like echinacea aren't regulated in the U.S. the way medications are. The makers of supplements don't have to show their products are safe or effective before they go on the market. Also, there's a chance that what you buy at the drugstore may not actually have what the label says it does.

Other Alternative Treatments

Many other herbs, plants, minerals, vitamins, and supplements are used by some people to help ease cold symptoms. Some examples are:

  • Eucalyptus
  • Garlic
  • Honey
  • Lemon
  • Menthol
  • Vitamin C
  • Zinc

But so far, no studies show that these treatments have an effect against a cold.

If you're interested in using echinacea or another alternative treatment, talk to your doctor. Remember, herbal remedies may have risks, just like any drug. They can cause side effects and could affect how other medications work.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on August 01, 2014
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