In Britain health authorities advise not to give Echinacea to children under 12 years.
A spokesperson for the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has said that the measure was 'precautionary in nature' and that 'parents should not worry if they have given Echinacea to children under 12 in the past'.
What are the reasons given for this warning?
The warning has been issued due to the risk of rare allergic reactions, which the MHRA says 'may sometimes be severe' in this age group.
In Germany the official advice is not to give Echinacea to children under two years because:
their immune systems are not fully developed and Echinacea could lead to allergies.
Despite the consistent and widespread use of Echinacea over more than a hundred years fellow herbalists and I are not aware of any serious incidents of adverse side effects.
In fact it remains one of the most popular herbs used for the treatment and prevention of minor respiratory infections.
For example, a sore throat is typically the first sign of a more wide spread respiratory infection.
In my experience, gargling and the swallowing a good quality Echinacea preparation usually prevents the development of further symptoms.
As far as I am aware Echinacea has been taken safely by children under the age of 12 years with few adverse reactions in a very small number of children.
The possibility of reaction to any food, topical application or medicinal herb is ever present but in my opinion Echinacea is a safe medicinal herb.