Is it Safe to Take Echinacea & Goldenseal While Breastfeeding?

Echinacea and goldenseal are herbs frequently used to help boost the immune system and to treat the common cold, respiratory infections and the flu. Nursing mothers have to be careful of any medications or herbs taken while breastfeeding because many substances can cross into the breast milk. When a nursing mother has a cold, many over-the-counter cold remedies are contraindicated because some can negatively affect the milk supply. This may lead some women to seek out herbal supplements, including echinacea and goldenseal.

A mother is breastfeeding her child. Credit: Brian McEntire/iStock/Getty Images


Echinacea is an herb that is ground from a plant with pink or purple leaves and a cone shaped center. Echinacea is available in powdered formulations, as well as liquid extracts. While the herb can be purchased individually, it is also often combined with other herbs, including goldenseal. Echinacea is generally considered to be safe for nursing mothers. You should be careful to only purchase echinacea from a reputable manufacturer and only as a single herb preparation.


Goldenseal is an herb that comes from a plant with small flowers and fruit that resembles raspberries. While goldenseal is often packaged and marketed with echinacea, it should be avoided while breastfeeding. Baby Center notes that goldenseal may be toxic, even when used in moderation. It has not been studied on lactating women, so the effects are unknown. Avoid the use of goldenseal while you are breastfeeding unless your doctor or health care provider prescribes it and monitors your baby closely.


If you choose to take echinacea while you are breastfeeding, you should only take the recommended dosage for no more than 7 to 10 days. You can take 300 mg of echinacea, three times per day. If you choose an echinacea tincture, you can take 1 to 3 ml, three times each day. Do not take more than the recommended dosage, or for the recommended number of days. If your symptoms are not better after a week, seek medical attention.


Talk with your doctor prior to using echinacea or any other herb while breastfeeding. Echinacea may interact with other medications that you are taking, so talk to your doctor or a pharmacist to check for interactions if you take any prescription medications. When purchasing echinacea, choose one bearing the USP, or United States Pharmacopeia, seal. This ensures a quality product.

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