Is echinacea a one size fits all cold remedy

Echinacea & The Common Cold

How often a pharmacist sold you echinacea for your cold or flu?  Recently a couple of friends of mine went to a chemist in search of something to help with a nagging cough.  The pharmacist immediately guided them to a packet of echinacea lozenges.   She waxed lyrical about the effectiveness of this cone flower (as it is sometimes known) on cold and flu symptoms.  It got me thinking – is echinacea really a ‘one size fits all’ remedy for the common cold?

The flower is a hero of the herb world for many people dealing with colds and flu naturally.  However, having recently read a number of articles warning of some adverse effects of echinacea, I therefore believe that pharmacists need to ask more questions about the state of their customers’ health.

Echinacea is known to exacerbate numerous health conditions.

First of all, cone flower is known to cause allergic reactions.  It also has a reputation for exacerbating existing breathing problems in asthmatics.  Likewise, people dealing with autoimmune illnesses like lupus, multiple sclerosis, HIV infections, AIDS, or tuberculosis also need to beware.  For some, it stimulates an immune system which is already on overdrive. If you are on medications that suppress your immune system you may be doing more harm than good.

Finding the perfect potion to help alleviate your cold symptoms is a personal journey.  After all, what works for one person may not always work for another.

As a Clinical Aromatherapist with over twenty-five years experience, I customise essential oil blends in client treatments.  In consultations, I ask,“is any condition, allergy or medication you have which may be affected by any herbs?”  A long time ago I learnt it’s best not to underestimate the potency of herbs in any form.

Lavender Can Help – But Not If You Use Medications Like Codral

Lavender essential oil  (Lavendula Augustifolia) when used as a bath oil, inhaled and used as in a vegetable-based massage oil can undo the inhibiting effects of cold and flu medications like Codral.  Humans have runny noses for a reason.  It is our body’s way of trying to eliminate the nasties.  I (like many others) have used Lavender essential oil after taking a cold and flu medication, and have been ‘knocked for a six’ health-wise shortly after. However, the following morning after a decent night’s sleep, the cold and flu symptoms are significantly reduced.

The situation with that pharmacy visit really drove home for me the importance of not jumping on to the marketing hype of a lot of cold and flu medications are out there.  Don’t always take what you are being told as gospel either. If you go to a practitioner or a pharmacist who  does not ask you about your health, existing conditions, medications, or whether you are aware of any known contraindications to existing medications or conditions, that is a queue for you to either excuse yourself or push for those questions to be asked.  Keep asking questions – of your doctors especially.  Don’t rely on Dr. Google to provide you with answers. The amount of conflicting information is mind-boggling at the best of times.


As well as being the author of Peacock Dreaming: The Wisdom Of Flowers and Lovitude:  Trying To Calm The Monkey Mind, Anne McCormack is also a qualified Clinical Aromatherapist who lives in works in Nelson, New Zealand.  Anne has practised and presented courses and workshops in Australia, and has been a guest speaker for organisations such as the NSW Encore Support Group for Breast Cancer.  Keen to learn more?  Contact Anne today!


Feature image courtesy of DerSilent via Pixabay

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