Parents have been warned not to give Echinacea, the popular herbal remedy believed to ward off colds, to children under 12, reports the Telegraph.
According to the MHRA, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, the remedy can cause “severe” allergic reaction, such as rashes, swelling of the mouth and tongue, and even anaphylactic shock.
The MHRA issued the warning after advice from the European Herbal Medicinal Products Committee (HMPC) and the UK Herbal Medicines Advisory Committee (HMAC).
An MHRA spokesman said, “They both concluded that the perceived benefits of the use of Echinacea in children under 12 years are outweighed by the potential risks in this age group and there is a low risk of allergic reactions but these could be severe.”
It’s considered safe for children over 12 and adults to continue to take the remedy because they weigh more and catch fewer colds, lowering the risk of side effects. Echinacea is derived from a particular species of North American flower.
Richard Woodfield, the MHRA’s head of herbal policy, said: “This is not a serious safety issue, but parents need to be aware that children under 12 could have a low risk of developing allergic reactions, such as rashes from oral Echinacea products.”
The MHRA is recommending that the packaging of all products containing Echinacea make it clear it should not be taken by children under 12.