Q and A


Why shouldn't I take Echinacea?

Hello there.

I am very surprised now because I just found out accidentally on the internet that Echinacea should NOT be used by hiv positive people!

Is that true? Why? I have been using it for many months now and I thought it was improving my health!

I also need to know if Valeriana and HIV drugs have any interactions.


The reason why someone living with HIV would be advised not to take Echinacea is because it appears to have possible interactions with Atripla (which is an ARV – antiretroviral treatment for HIV). Although the interaction has not been fully studied, the way in which Echinacea works in the body means it has the potential to interact with efavirenz – one of the drugs in Atripla.

In response to your second question, valerian (Valeriana officinalis) does not interract with ARVs.

However as regards taking supplements, it is important to tell your doctor if you are taking any supplements. This is because supplements have the potential to interact with medication.

You may also find it helfpul to follow this link to an earlier question which provides more detailed information on herbal medications and HIV.

Best wishes.


  1. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Dawn,

    Other than ARVs there isn’t anything else that your boyfriend can take for this HIV. If he wants to control his HIV, he’ll need to be on meds.
    You said his meds made him sick, what was he taking? How was he sick? Has he thought about trying a different combination?

  2. Dawn

    My boyfriend has hiv. When he found out 7 years ago, they started him on meds. The meds made him really sick. He quit taking them. The doctor was surprised that his numbers were so low. I can’t get him to go get checked, and I worry about his health. Are there any natural herbs, or something I could get to help him?

  3. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Hermes,

    Thanks for this. What country do you live in Sahand? As Lisa says, most countries supply ARVs free.

  4. Hermes

    Hi Sahand, in Brazil the medicines are free. There are many NGOs who send medicines for Poz people. Try to look for it on-line or send your email here. I will try to send them for you. What country do you live?

  5. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Sahand,

    Which country do you live in? I’m asking as ARVs in most countries are free.

  6. sahand

    I can’t afford meds so I try to build my immune system with supplements to have a painless death.

  7. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Msekeni,

    Because you aren’t on meds, then there is no reason why you can’t drink Encheninica tea. However, for your own health, you should really be on ARVs. Is there any reason why you aren’t on meds?

  8. Msekeni

    HIV positive and not yet on ARV’s can I take Encheninica tea as a supplement.

  9. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Johnathan,

    In theory yes. However, it may react with other meds. What are you taking?

  10. Jonathan

    So presumably if one’s HART regimen doesn’t include efavirenz, then taking supplements containing echinacea should be okay?


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