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Frequently Asked Questions
Echinacea tablets contain the flowering plant echinacea. It’s a flowering plant that grows in the U.S. and Canada and is believed to act as a natural anti-viral medication. You may also see Echinacea referred to as the purple coneflower or black-eyed Susan. The leaves, stems, flower, and roots are used to make echinacea tablet supplements that could help relieve the symptoms/infection of a cold or flu.
Echinacea tablets should be taken at the first sign of a cold or illness to help prevent it’s symptoms, though it will not necessarily stop you getting a cold. It is an over the counter medication that can be found in most pharmacies and also in natural remedy shops. Although its effectiveness is debated there is evidence to suggest it is an effective way to prevent cold and flu symptoms and reduce the longevity of the cold. You can find some more uses for echinacea here.
Echinacea tablets can be used to help prevent a flu, cold or virus when you first experience symptoms.
Echinacea tablets containing echinacea extract do seem to have an effect on the immune system, your body’s defense against germs. Research shows it increases the number of white blood cells, which fight infections. The general conclusion is that echinacea had a very slight benefit in preventing colds.
Take 1 echinacea tablet 3 times a day. Start at the first signs of a common cold.
Do not use echinacea tablets for more than 10 days. Do not take more than the label tells you to. See your doctor or qualified healthcare practitioner if your condition worsens, you get a high fever while using this product or symptoms persist for more than 10 days.
Do not take echinacea tablets:
- if you are allergic to Echinacea, other members of the same plant family (Asteraceae compositae, such as daisies, marigolds or artichokes) or any of the other ingredients of this medicine
- if you suffer frequent allergic reactions such as hives (urticaria), eczema, asthma
- if you have tuberculosis
- if you have a connective tissue disease with formation of clumps of cells (sarcoidosis) mainly occurring in the lymph nodes, lungs and liver
- if you have an auto-immune disease such as inflammation of the connective tissue (collagenosis) or multiple sclerosis
- if you have a condition which decreases your natural response to infection (eg HIV infection or AIDS)
- if you are on therapy to reduce your natural response to infection (immunosuppression eg: chemotherapy or radiotherapy for cancer; history of organ or bone marrow transplant)
- if you have a blood disorder involving the white blood cell system such as low white cell count due to bone marrow disorders (agranulocytosis) or blood cell cancer (leukemias)
- if you are already taking immunosuppressant medication such as ciclosporin or methotrexate.
Please tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking medicines obtained without a prescription. Do not take echinacea tablets if you are already taking immunosuppressant medication such as ciclosporin or methotrexate.
There are no known reactions between alcohol or food and echinacea tablets.
Like all medicines, echinacea tablets can cause side effects, although not everybody gets them. Find a full list of possible side effects see the echinacea tablet patient information leaflet. The frequency of the side effects is not known. The possible side effects include:
- allergic reactions such as swelling, hives, or rashes
- swelling of the skin due to fluid
- swelling of the facial area (Quinke’s oedema)
- shrinking of the airways of the lungs with obstruction (bronchospasm)
- asthma and life threatening reactions (anaphylactic shock)
Echinacea can trigger allergic reactions in patients who have a tendency to allergic reactions. Association with auto-immune diseases has been reported such as:
- inflammation of the brain and spinal cord (disseminated encephalitis)
- painful lumps on the shins (erythema nodosum)
- low blood platelet count (immune thrombocytopenia)
- destruction of blood cells by antibodies (Evans Syndrome)
- dryness in the mouth and eye with kidney tubular dysfunction (Sjogren Syndrome)
- A decrease in the number of white blood cells (leucopenia) may occur in long term use (more than 8 weeks)
Stop taking the product immediately if you experience any allergic reaction. You should always read the echinacea tablet patient information leaflet before taking this medication.
Do not take echinacea tablets if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, because there is no evidence that it is safe to do so.
Store echinacea tablets as per the echinacea tablet patient information leaflet in a cool dry place. Do not use past the expiration date.
Yes, you can legally order echinacea tablets from registered online prescribers such as e-Surgery.
Whenever you are buying echinacea tablets or any other medication, even if it is over the counter, make sure you check for the green GPhC and MHRA logo on the bottom of each page of the website you are using.
You can learn more about this medication in the echinacea tablet patient information leaflet, which contains more useful information.
You can also use our completely free Ask-a-Pharmacist service to get health advice from a trained professional. We’re here to help!
e-Surgery uses Royal Mail delivery with choices starting from Royal Mail 48 tracked delivery, Royal Mail tracked 24 and Royal Mail 1pm special delivery (discover more about e-Surgery delivery). Your echinacea tablets will arrive in discreet, recyclable packaging at a delivery address of your choice. Find out to recycle packaging from e-Surgery.
Echinacea tablets come in blister packs that are not currently recyclable, so once they have been used can be disposed of in a general waste bin. If the echinacea tablets are unfinished dispose of medication safely and drop them off at a local pharmacy. Cardboard packaging and paper patient information leaflets are recyclable. For any more information on disposal of echinacea tablets you can use our free Ask-a-Pharmacist service.