Echinacea helps cold and flu in pregnancy
Date: 2017-07-19
Author: Claire Georgiou
Access: Public

When you’re expecting, the part of your immune system which protects against viruses and bacteria runs at a lower intensity than usual. Due to this, expectant mothers are often prone, more so than usual, to their fair share of colds and flus, coughs and sore throats.1,2

So what can be done to help colds and flus during pregnancy?
When mothers-to-be become ill with a cold or flu, it is important that they take good care of themselves; get adequate rest, stay well hydrated and eat a healthy, balanced diet. Adequate intake of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C and zinc can help to support the immune system.3,4 Echinacea purpurea (echinacea) is a herb that has been used for centuries in western herbal medicine to support a healthy immune response.5

Is echinacea able to be taken during pregnancy?
In traditional herbal medicine classification, echinacea is a Category A medicine in pregnancy, indicating controlled studies in healthy pregnant women have demonstrated no foetal risk.6 So echinacea is one of the few herbs that can be taken during pregnancy without any worry.

How can echinacea help?
To support the mother’s immune system during pregnancy, it may be helpful to take echinacea during any early sign of infection, exposure to infection or as a preventative during cold and flu season. Echinacea is traditionally used in western herbal medicine to help relieve the symptoms associated with the common cold, when taken at the first sign of infection.7

What else can be helpful?
Aside from good rest, a healthy balanced diet and plenty of water, there are other nutrients which may be beneficial in supporting the immune system during pregnancy. Lactoferrin is a type of protein, found in breast milk, which may help to support immune system function and boost immune cell activity.7 There is an increased requirement for vitamin C and zinc during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and zinc is essential in the maintenance of a healthy immune system.3,4
Speak to your healthcare practitioner for more information about supplementation. Make sure to always read the label and use only as directed. If symptoms persist, see your healthcare practitioner.

To find a practitioner in your area, visit our Find-A-Practitioner page.


  1. Morelli SS, Mandal M, Goldsmith LT, et al. The maternal immune system during pregnancy and its influence on fetal development. Res Rep Biol 2015;6:171-189.
  2. Kourtis AP, Read JS, Jamieson D. Pregnancy and Infection. N Engl J Med 2014; 370(23): 2211–2218.
  3. NHMRC. Nutrient reference values 2006. Viewed 17 May 2017,
  4. Ho E. Zinc. Linus Pauling Institute 2013. Viewed 15 May 2017,
  5. Echinacea purpurea monograph. Health Canada. Viewed 23 May 2017,
  6. Mills S, Bone K. The essential guide to herbal safety. Elsevier Health Sciences, 2005.
  7. Tomita M, Wakabayashi H, Shin K, et al. Twenty-five years of research on bovine lactoferrin applications. Biochimie. 2009;91(1):52-57.