Is Echinacea OK for Children?

Is Echinacea OK for Children?

Author -  Vicki Martin, Nutritionist and Naturopath

Naturopath Vicki Martin answers parents concerns about whether they should give Echinacea to their children

As natural herbal remedies are becoming more popular among adults, many parents wonder if they’re OK for children to take as well. Echinacea is one of the most popular herbs for helping to fight off coughs, colds and flu. So it’s only natural for parents to ask if they can give it to their children.

An Introduction to Echinacea

Also known as Purple Coneflower, Echinacea is a herb that originated in America. American Indian healers used it for hundreds of years to help fight infections. It’s a member of the daisy family, the same family that ragweed, marigolds, chrysanthemums and sunflowers belong to. Most Echinacea supplements are made from either the root or the flower (or both).

How Echinacea works

Echinacea supports the immune system cells that destroy bacteria, fungi and viruses, and so helps to reduce infectious conditions and symptoms. Today it’s most often used to help prevent and treat colds, flu and other respiratory infections

What the research says about Echinacea and children

In a recent study, one set of parents gave their 1-5 year old children an Echinacea and Vitamin C product. The children took the product twice a day for 12 weeks. A separate set of parents gave their child a placebo. The children taking the Echinacea product caught significantly fewer colds – slightly more than half – compared to the ones taking the placebo. This suggests that Echinacea and Vitamin C together may help to keep children from coming down with colds and flu.

Are there any cautions?

It’s always a good idea to be a little cautious about giving children natural remedies – not all herbs are suitable for smaller bodies. That said, Echinacea seems to be safe for most children.

There have been a few reports of reactions from people who are allergic: usually rashes that disappear as soon as the herb is stopped. Because allergic reactions can be more serious, however, children with allergies to any plants in the daisy family shouldn’t take Echinacea.