Anas barbaria, Anas Barbariae, Anas moschata, Avian Heart and Liver, Avian Liver Extract, Cairina moschata, Canard de Barbarie, Duck Liver Extract, Extrait de Foie de Canard, Muscovy Duck, Oscillo.
Oscillococcinum is a brand name homeopathic product manufactured by Boiron. Similar homeopathic products are found in other brands.
Homeopathic products are extreme dilutions of some active ingredient. They are often so diluted that they don't contain any active medicine. Homeopathic products are permitted for sale in the U.S. due to legislation passed in 1938 sponsored by a homeopathic physician who was also a senator. The law still requires that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allow the sale of products listed in the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the United States. However, homeopathic preparations are not held to the same safety and effectiveness standards as conventional medicines.
Oscillococcinum is used for symptoms of influenza infections ("the flu") and H1N1 (swine) flu.
How does it work?
Oscillococcinum is a homeopathic product. Homeopathy is a system of medicine established in the 19th century by a German physician named Samuel Hahnemann. Its basic principles are that "like treats like" and "potentiation through dilution." For example, in homeopathy, influenza would be treated with an extreme dilution of a substance that normally causes influenza when taken in high doses.
A French physician discovered oscillococcinum while investigating the Spanish flu in 1917. But he was mistaken that his "oscillococci" were the cause of the flu.
Practitioners of homeopathy believe that more dilute preparations are more potent. Many homeopathic preparations are so diluted that they contain little or no active ingredient. Therefore, most homeopathic products are not expected to act like drugs, or have drug interactions or other harmful effects. Any beneficial effects are controversial and cannot be explained by current scientific methods.
Dilutions of 1 to 10 are designated by an "X." So a 1X dilution = 1:10 or 1 part of an active ingredient in 10 parts of water; 3X = 1:1000; 6X = 1:1,000,000. Dilutions of 1 to 100 are designated by a "C." So a 1C dilution = 1:100; 3C = 1:1,000,000. Dilutions of 24X or 12C or more contain zero molecules of the original active ingredient. Oscillococcinum is diluted to 200C.
Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...
- Flu (influenza) and H1N1 (swine) flu. There is no reliable evidence that taking oscillococcinum can prevent the flu. However, in people with flu symptoms, there is some evidence that oscillococcinum might help people get over the flu faster, but only by 6 or 7 hours. This may not be of much importance. The reliability of this finding is also questionable due to flaws in the study design. More evidence is needed to rate oscillococcinum for this use.
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).
The appropriate dose of oscillococcinum depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for oscillococcinum. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Casanova, P. and Gerard, R. Results of three years of randomised, multicentre studies on Oscillococcinum/placebo [Bilan de 3 annees d'etudes randomisees multicentriques Oscillococcinum/placebo]. 1992;
Casanova, P. Homeopathy, flu syndrome and double blinding [Homeopathie, syndrome grippal et double insu]. Tonus 1984;(25):26.
Nollevaux, M. A. Clinical study of Mucococcinum 200K as a preventative treatment against flu: a double blind trial versus placebo [Klinische studie van Mucococcinum 200K als preventieve behandeling van griepachtige aandoeningen: een dubbelblinde test tegenover placebo]. 1990;
Papp, R., Schuback, G., Beck, E., Burkard G., and Lehrl S. Oscillococcinum in patients with influenza-like syndromes: a placebo-controlled double-blind evaluation. British Homoeopathic Journal 1998;87:69-76.
Rottey, E. E., Verleye, G. B., and Liagre, R. L. The effects of a homeopathic remedy made of micro-organisms in the prevention of flu. A randomised double-blind trial in GP practices [Het effect van een homeopathische bereiding van micro-organismen bij de preventie van griepsymptomen. Een gerandomiseerd dubbel-blind onderzoek in de huisartspraktijk]. Tijdschrift voor Integrale Geneeskunde 1995;11:54-58.
Vickers, A. and Smith, C. WITHDRAWN: Homoeopathic Oscillococcinum for preventing and treating influenza and influenza-like syndromes. Cochrane.Database.Syst.Rev. 2009;(3):CD001957. View abstract.
Attena F, Toscano G, Agozzino E, Del Giudice Net al. A randomized trial in the prevention of influenza-like syndromes by homeopathic management. Rev Epidemiol Sante Publique 1995;43:380-2. View abstract.
Ernst, E. A systematic review of systematic reviews of homeopathy. Br J Clin Pharmacol 2002;54:577-82. View abstract.
Ferley JP, Zmirou D, D'Adhemar D, et al. A controlled evaluation of a homoeopathic preparation in the treatment of influenza-like syndromes. Br J Clin Pharmacol 1989;27:329-35. View abstract.
Guo R, Pittler MH, Ernst E. Complementary medicine for treating or preventing influenza or influenza-like illness. Am J Med 2007;120:923-9. View abstract.
Jaber R. Respiratory and allergic diseases: from upper respiratory tract infections to asthma. Prim Care 2002;29:231-61. View abstract.
Linde K, Hondras M, Vickers A, et al. Systematic reviews of complementary therapies - an annotated bibliography. Part 3: homeopathy. BMC Complement Altern Med 2001;1:4. View abstract.
Mathie RT, Frye J, Fisher P. Homeopathic Oscillococcinum for preventing and treating influenza and influenza-like illness. Cochrane Database Sys Rev 2012;:CD001957. View abstract.
Neinhuys JW. The True Story of Oscillococcinum. HomeoWatch 2003. http://www.homeowatch.org/history/oscillo.html (Accessed 21 April 2004).
Papp R, Schuback G, Beck E, et al. Oscillococcinum in patients with influenza-like syndromes: a placebo-controlled double-blind evaluation. British Homoeopathic Journal 1998;87:69-76.
van der Wouden JC, Bueving HJ, Poole P. Preventing influenza: an overview of systematic reviews. Respir Med 2005;99:1341-9. View abstract.
Vickers AJ, Smith C. Homoeopathic Oscillococcinum for preventing and treating influenza and influenza-like syndromes. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2006;(3):CD001957. View abstract.
Vickers AJ, Smith C. Homoeopathic Oscillococcinum for preventing and treating influenza and influenza-like syndromes. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2000;(2):CD001957. View abstract.
Vickers, A. J. and Smith, C. Homoeopathic Oscillococcinum for preventing and treating influenza and influenza-like syndromes. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2004;(1):CD001957. View abstract.