Echinacea allergy.

Newsgroups: alt.folklore.herbs
Subject: Re: Allergy to Echinacea??
From: Michael Moore <>
Date: 11 Jan 1995 20:07:26 GMT

Megen Smith writes:
>With the encouragement of a friend I've begun taking Echinacea to boost my immune system. When my daughter (6) was in the beginning stages of a cold, I gave her one capsule. She came home from school 6 hours later having a full blown asthma attack. Nothing was out of the ordinary for her at school, only the echinacea. She does have hay fever and suffers with asthma all fall - but this was really out of the ordinary. Any suggestions?

I have not observed an allergic or atopic response to the use of Echinacea root in a couple of decades of selling it, picking it or recommending it. This includes E. angustifolia, E. pallida, E. atrorubens, E. sanguinia and E. purpurea. Rather importantly, however, found that the presence of Echinacea flowers or seed-heads (normally a sound practice, since they act almost the same way the roots do) were causing an allergic reaction when used with some CFS, EBV, CMV and MCS folks (comfortably reduced to the cursed acronyms), an observation confirmed by Andrew Weill with his EBV patients. These infrequent allergic responses ceased when only the root was used.

How were the capsules labeled? It is common to use various parts and species, fresh and dry, wildcrafted or cultivated in the current somewhat senseless attempt to create an alledgedly unique Echinacea "product". Was it one of those many Echinacea/Golden Seal combos? (irritating, since Golden Seal is rapidly disappearing the wild, and, with periodic European crop failures and some US growers having been flooded out last spring, the demand for wildcrafted roots is taking a huge toll on the remaining populations)

I have found that, when working with kids (this includes my own...and now my granddaughters) a heating or vasodilating herb needs to be added to Echinacea. Out here I would use Oshà (Ligusticum porteri), but one of the Pennyroyals (Mentha or Hedeoma), some Elder Flowers or Pleurisy Root will work fine. Echinacea is "cold", and, although a useful stimulant to SOME immunologic responses, often the stimulation just stays there. Sometimes you need to increase peripheral circulation, liver and kidney function AND skin secretions in order to move out of the body the detritis and immuno-complexes that may result from using Echinacea. Besides, there are far more effective ways to deal with an early cold than Echinacea.

And, of course, the whole thing could be coincidental.

Michael Moore (
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