Has anyone tried echinacea?

Hello all

I've been on prednisolone for two and a half years now and I guess my immune system is compromised as I'm getting frequent recurrent UTIs. I was going to try echinacea and cat's claw to try and boost my immune system but came across a drug interaction with echinacea and pred. when I googled it. Has anyone tried it with any success?

16 Replies

  • My understanding is that because Prednisolone suppresses your immune system, and Echinacea is to boost that it is contraindicated. It can reduce the effectiveness of the steroids. Not a good idea to boost your immune system when your Drs are giving you meds whether that be steroids or DMARDs to dampen the immune system. Hope that helps, Runrig x

  • I haven't tried echinacea along with pred but used to try it to ward off colds. Not very effective to be honest. I believe that some people swear by zinc supplements to boost the immune system.

  • I can't take it at all... and my doc warned me to always double check with docs and pharmacist as some of the 'natural' remedies can actually be quite harmful to those with AI conditions and associated meds.

  • Being on Prednisolone definitely compromise your immune system. Have you heard of Beta Glucans? This is believed to be the most advanced immune enhancer known to man yet does not interfere with the action of any steroids or Mtx? In fact, it has been shown to enhance their action, so it is a win win situation.

    I get mine from betaglucans@hotmail.co.uk

    Do google it and read the many benefits of this virtually unheard of product which is

    also rumoured to be replacing many conventional antibiotics by the end of 2016!

    It has changed my life, giving me resistance against colds/infections whilst being so vulnerable on steroids.

  • Me too! My nutritionist put me on it. She is a scientist by background, has done proper studies into health supplements and works with the NHS and cancer patients, so I trust her judgement as to whether it would be sensible to use whilst on steroids. Have not have any issues with health at all for two years. It's great!

  • Nutritionists are not scientifically qualified - there is no recognised qualification or certification. I - or anyone else - could set up as a nutritionist tomorrow. The only people who can give a qualified assessment as to the safeness of a supplement alongside prescribed medications is a pharmacist. Nutritional supplements have not been tested to see whether they are safe or not.

  • Both my Rheumy and GP know about the use of this supplement and are happy with me taking it. Beta Glucans was given to USA troops going into Iraq as they were possibly facing harmful substances. I suggest everyone thinking of taking it check with GP/Rheumy and only use it if these people agree to it. Yes, some supplements can be dangerous, but many are not - and if they do help (I would not continue using it if it didn't help) without harming then that is up to the individual? Regards Green_Girl

  • It is, you are quite correct. However - don't believe everything you read on the internet.

  • I have had fewer infections in the last 4 years since being on pred. No one should use any supplements when on any prescribed drugs without checking with their doctor and pharmacist first. "Natural" is not a synonym for "harmless" - deadly nightshade is natural and so is cyanide.

    I'm also not sure who believes this is "the most advanced immune enhancer known to man" - the person SELLING the stuff maybe? If it enhances anything it is likely to be their bank balance. The betaglucan found in oats does act to reduce cholesterol. But eating oats as porridge is enough to achieve that.

  • That's very interesting Thanks. I am off steroids now but I am suffering even more with a weak immune system. I picked up a tummy bug and couldn't get rid of it. Now I have an infection in the site of a tooth extraction which I can't get rid of. So will definitely look into this.

  • Skoda, I know of one person who tried devil's claw - very similar to cat's claw - which didn't do anything in the long run. Echinacea is contra-indicated with steroids, I had to stop taking it years ago when I was first diagnosed. I guess you have had all the tests for long term cystitis (sorry can't remember the word?) If not, it would be a good thing to do.

  • Yes, Polkadot, I've been seeing a Urologist but they don't seem to have a clue, so searching around to help myself! Why did you have to stop taking echinacea? Beta glucans sounds interesting.

  • I think it's already been said somewhere on here, but once I was put on steroids my GP asked immediately if I were taking any supplements. The fish oil and vit C were ok but the Echinacea would have interfered with the processing of Pred so it had to go. I had been taking it for some years then and was a bit put out! But like PMRpro I found that once on steroids I had far fewer infections and colds anyway so didn't really need it - I think as a side effect of Pred you either get lucky and get that as a treat, or get unlucky and begin catching any small bug which ambles past.

    As far as Beta glucans goes, porridge for breakfast (or supper) would do the trick.

  • As a medical herbalist myself I would not recommend to anyone to take Echinacea or any other immunomodulatory herbs such as cat's claw with any oral corticosteroids. Devil's claw is more used for osteoarthritis so of little use for autoimmune disease or infections. As others have pointed out Echinacea (and some other similar herbs) may interfere with the immunosuppressive/anti-inflammatory effect of the steroids. It stimulates the output of some cytokines and suppresses others. When not on steroids Echinacea is fine for people with autoimmune disease to take short-term e.g. when they have a cold or flu. When taken in sufficient amounts at the beginning of a viral respiratory infection it may prevent viruses from entering cells. Contrary to it being contraindicated for autoimmune disease, studies on patients with autoimmune uveitis showed that Echinacea actually improved visual acuity - but more studies are needed.

    As for UTIs Echinacea is not strongly effective anyway. Uva ursi (bearberry) is better for this but again only short-term (2 weeks max). Safest while on steroids is probably D-mannose but only for a UTI caused by E. coli.

    Finally, I cannot stress strongly enough that it is never advisable to self medicate with natural substances, whether herbs or otherwise. As PMRpro points out 'natural' doesn't always mean safe. Medical herbalists recognised by NIMH or CPP (and soon to be recognised and regulated by the Health Professions Council) have undergone a 4 year degree course in which they are trained thoroughly in herb-drug interactions (which GPs are not) and some pharmacists are also aware of these - so always seek advice first.

  • I have had 2 episodes of UTIs - last May & again in September. No know cause except maybe side effect from medication, but the Trimethoprim antibiotic treatment worked well.

    These things are sent to try us! All a great nuisance but have to be put up with. I am now taking a vit B & a fish oil supplement, don't know if they will help overall but fingers crossed!

  • Many years ago, long before PMR struck, I had a bad patch with recurrent UTIs. My GP advised drinking plenty of water or something close to it throughout the day to keep a constant flow of fluid coming through the urinary tract to wash out germs and also to completely avoid coffee, tea or alcohol until I had been clear of infection for several weeks. I also found cranberry juice helped as a preventative measure. These measures did help considerably and the UTIs are now fairly rare.

    All these years later I still try to drink plenty of fluids and only had one UTI whilst on Pred. At the higher doses of Pred I had less infections than usual but when the dose was 5mg or less I picked up cold after cold plus the one UTI. After just over 2 years I came off the Pred at the end of Sept and have been cold free so far this winter.

    A friend with similar problems was placed on a long term low dose of antibiotics(over 6 months) which eventually helped her although her progress was very slow.

    Hope you are better soon.


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