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oscillococcinum, oscillococcinum reviews
Oscillococcinum or Oscillo is a homeopathic preparation marketed to relieve influenza-like symptoms It does not provide any benefit beyond that of sugar pills It is a popular preparation, particularly in France It is manufactured by Boiron, its sole manufacturer Oscillococcinum is used in more than 50 countries and has been in production for over 65 years

The preparation is derived from duck liver and heart, diluted to 200C—a ratio of one part duck offal to 10400 parts water Homeopaths claim that the molecules leave an "imprint" in the dilution that causes a healing effect on the body, although there is no evidence that supports this mechanism or efficacy beyond placebo

Oscillococcinum was originally proposed by the French physician Joseph Roy, based on his misidentification of an oscillating bacterium he named oscillococcus in victims of the Spanish flu epidemic of 1917-1918 Roy said he had seen the same bacterium in cancer sufferers, and proposed a homeopathic preparation which he claimed to have isolated in a duck as a remedy for the Spanish flu The microbes Roy said he saw have never been independently observed by any other researcher In addition, it is now known that influenza is caused by a virus and not a bacterium


  • 1 Origin and history
  • 2 Preparation
  • 3 Efficacy
  • 4 Lawsuits and criticisms
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links

Origin and history

The word "Oscillococcinum" was coined by the French physician Joseph Roy 1891–1978 in his 1925 book Towards Knowledge and the Cure of Cancer Roy wrote that while on military duty during the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1917 he had observed an oscillating bacterium in the blood of flu victims, which he named Oscillococcus

Roy subsequently claimed to have observed the microbe in the blood of patients that had viral diseases like herpes, chicken pox, and shingles He thought it to be the causative agent of diseases as varied as eczema, rheumatism, tuberculosis, measles, and cancer Roy searched for the "bacterium" in several animals until he felt that he had found it on the liver of a Long Island duckling Believing he had also detected it in the blood of cancer patients, he tried a vaccine-like therapy on them, which was unsuccessful

The microbe has never been independently observed by another researcher, and it remains unclear what, if anything, Roy actually saw Moreover, medical science has since disproved Roy's "universal germ" theory: rheumatism, for example, is not caused by bacteria, and measles is caused by a virus far too small for Roy to have observed in his optical microscope

The modern preparation is created from the heart and liver of Muscovy duck see the preparation section for the details

In France, the selling of all products manufactured according to the Korsakovian principle of dilution was forbidden until 1992, with the exception of Oscillo, thanks to a special measure made for it As of 2000, Oscillococcinum was one of the top ten selling drugs in France, was publicised widely in the media, and was being prescribed for both flu and the common cold As of 2008 it sells US$15 million per year in the US, and it also sells widely in Europe


The ingredients of a one-gram tube of Oscillococcinum are listed as follows:

  • Active ingredient: Anas Barbariae Hepatis et Cordis Extractum extract of Muscovy duck liver and heart 200CK HPUS 1×10−400 g which is much less than the mass of a proton 167×10−24 g
  • Inactive ingredient: 085 g sucrose, 015 g lactose 100% sugar

The 200CK indicates that the preparation entails a series of 200 dilutions of the starting ingredient, an extract from the heart and liver of a Muscovy duck Each step entails a 1:100 dilution, where the first mixture contains 1% of the extract, the second contains 1% of the first mixture, etc The K indicates that it is prepared by the Korsakovian method, in which rather than 1% of the preparation being measured out at each stage and then diluted, a single vessel is repeatedly emptied, refilled, and vigorously shaken in homeopathic terminology "succussed", and it is assumed that 1% remains in the vessel each time The 200C dilution is so extreme that the final pill contains none of the original material

Oscillococcinum is generally considered harmless When Boiron the company that makes oscillococcinum spokeswoman Gina Casey was asked if a product made from the heart and liver of a duck was safe, she replied: "Of course it is safe There's nothing in it"


There is no compelling scientific evidence that Oscillococcinum has any effect beyond placebo None of its active ingredient is present in a dose of the final product, nor is there any credible evidence that duck liver is effective in relieving or causing flu symptoms in the first place Homeopaths claim the diluted molecules leave an "imprint" in the remedy, but there is no known mechanism for how this could occur Homeopathy as a whole is considered to be pseudoscience

As Robert L Park, a critic of alternative medicine, explains, some of the characteristics of flu may suggest that Oscillococcinum works Since the flu normally goes away on its own in a variable number of days, the natural course of the disease is a potential source of error in assessing the efficacy of any intervention: if one takes any medication, and then one's flu goes away, there is a tendency to attribute this to the medication even though the infection would have resolved anyway Someone who gets over a mild strain of flu may attribute the mildness to the efficacy of the homeopathic preparation and not to the fact that it was a mild strain, and might recommend it to other people, spreading its popularity Also, the most likely explanation for its effectiveness with flu symptoms is that patients are misdiagnosing the symptoms of several rhinovirus diseases or of allergies to several hundred substances, and attributing them to a flu infection that they do not have

A 2005 review of flu treatments vaccine, medicine, homeopathy has concluded that the popularity of Oscillococcinum in France was unsupported by any evidence of efficacy

In a 2007 review, the effectiveness of non-mainstream remedies against seasonal flu could not be established beyond reasonable doubt, and the evidence is found to be sparse and limited by "small sample sizes, low methodological quality, or clinically irrelevant effect sizes", and that the results strengthen using conventional approaches for flu

A Cochrane review published in December 2015 found that there was insufficient evidence to make a conclusion about whether Oscillococcinum is useful for influenza

Lawsuits and criticisms

The non-profit, educational organizations Center for Inquiry CFI and the associated Committee for Skeptical Inquiry CSI have petitioned the US Food and Drug Administration FDA, criticizing Boiron for misleading labeling and advertising of Oscillococcinum "One petition complains that Boiron’s packaging for Oscillococcinum lists the alleged active ingredient – duck liver and heart – in Latin only Another petition complains that Boiron’s web ad for this product implies that it has received FDA approval" Ronald Lindsay, CFI and CSI president and chief executive officer, contends, "If Boiron is going to sell snake oil, the least they can do is use English on their labels”

A class action lawsuit was filed against Boiron on behalf of "all California residents who purchased Oscillo at any time within the past four years" The lawsuit charges that Boiron "falsely advertises that Oscillo has the ability to cure the flu because it contains an active ingredient it claims is proven to get rid of flu symptoms in 48 hours" The lawsuit also states that the listed active ingredient in Oscillococcinum Oscillo "is actually Muscovy Duck Liver and Heart and has no known medicinal quality" A settlement was reached, with Boiron denying any wrongdoing and agreeing to make several changes to its marketing of the product These changes include adding to their packaging notices like "These ‘Uses’ have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration" and "C, K, CK, and X are homeopathic dilutions"

Since 2011, at least two class action lawsuits on behalf of customers who purchased Oscillococcinum have been filed against Boiron in the United States, alleging that Boiron falsely advertises that Oscillo has the ability to cure the flu A proposed settlement was reached in August 2012 While the settlement was challenged in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit by one class member who opposed the settlement, on February 24, 2015 the Ninth Circuit issued a decision upholding approval of the class action settlement

Boiron's legal threats against Samuele Riva for writing criticisms on his website were rebuffed by his web hosting company, and the debacle was described as producing a Streisand effect against Boiron


  1. ^ "Oscillo may help, but not by much" Los Angeles Times 2008-02-18 
  2. ^ "How is "Oscillococcinum" pronounced" Oscillocom 2013-01-24 Retrieved 2013-11-08 
  3. ^ a b c Nienhuys, Jan Willem 2003-08-23 "The True Story of Oscillococcinum" Retrieved 2007-02-23 
  4. ^ E Ernst December 2002 "A systematic review of systematic reviews of homeopathy" Br J Clin Pharmacol 54 6: 577–582 doi:101046/j1365-2125200201699x PMC 1874503  PMID 12492603 
  5. ^ a b Ruoling Guo, Max H Pittler, E Ernst November 2007 "Complementary Medicine for Treating or Preventing Influenza or Influenza-like Illness" The American Journal of Medicine 120 11: 923–929e3 doi:101016/jamjmed200706031 PMID 17976414 CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list link
  6. ^ "Questions and answers about homeopathy 8 What has scientific research found out about whether homeopathy works" US National Institute of Health NCCAM research report April 2003 Retrieved 2009-03-04  NCCAM Publication No D183
  7. ^ "Flu - NHS Choices" National Health Service April 2015 Retrieved 2017-01-14 
  8. ^ Roy, Joseph 1925 Vers la connaissance et la guérison du cancer: vue nouvelle sur la constitution de la vie in French Ed du Raisin 
  9. ^ a b c d e f Abgrall, Jean-Marie 2000 Healing Or Stealing: Medical Charlatans in the New Age Algora pp 40–41 ISBN 1-892941-51-1 
  10. ^ "The Curious "Science" of Oscillococcinum" Office for Science and Society, McGill University 2012-12-20 Archived from the original on 2013-10-23 Retrieved 2013-04-11 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Park, Robert L 2008 Superstition: Belief in the Age of Science Princeton University Press pp 143–147 ISBN 0-691-13355-7 
  12. ^ a b Dan McGraw Flu Symptoms Try Duck US News & World Report 2/9/97 page 2
  13. ^ Kayne SB, Caldwell IM 2006 "Homeopathic pharmacy: theory and practice" 2 ed Elsevier Health Sciences: 97 ISBN 978-0-443-10160-1 
  14. ^ Park, Robert L 2002 Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud reprint ed Oxford University Press p 53 ISBN 0-19-860443-2 
  15. ^ a b Mathie, RT; Frye, J; Fisher, P 28 January 2015 "Homeopathic Oscillococcinum® for preventing and treating influenza and influenza-like illness" The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 1: CD001957 doi:101002/14651858CD001957pub6 PMID 25629583 
  16. ^ Toufexis Anastasia 25 September 1995 "Is homeopathy good medicine" Time p 2 Retrieved 2008-04-20 Subscription required help page numbering given from online version
  17. ^ National Science Board April 2002 "Chapter 7 - Science and Technology: Public Attitudes and Public Understanding" Arlington, Virginia: National Science Foundation Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences 
  18. ^ Van; der Wouden, JC; Bueving, HJ; Poole, P Nov 2005 "Preventing influenza: an overview of systematic reviews" Respir Med 99 11: 1341–9 doi:101016/jrmed200507001 PMID 16112852 
  19. ^ "Citizen Petition calls on US FDA to review regulation of homeopathic drugs" The Pharma Letter 18 September 2011 Retrieved 2011-09-20 
  20. ^ "Boiron Oscillococcinum Class Action Lawsuit" Top Class Actions 8 August 2011 Retrieved 2011-09-24 
  21. ^ "The Law Office of Ronald A Marron, APLC and Patton Boggs LLP Announce Preliminary Approval of Class Action Settlement" Retrieved 30 May 2012 
  22. ^ "Gallucci v Boiron, Inc et al Settlement Agreement" PDF Archived from the original PDF on 16 March 2013 Retrieved 30 May 2012 
  23. ^ Holter, Mike 8 August 2011 "Boiron Oscillococcinum Class Action Lawsuit" TopClassActionscom Retrieved 2013-11-08 'Unfortunately, Defendants fail to inform consumers of the truth regarding Oscillo and is purported active ingredient,' the Boiron class action lawsuit says 'The truth is that the listed active ingredient in Oscillo, Anas Barbariae Hepatis et Cordis Extractum, is neither active in combating the flu nor is it actually an ingredient in Oscillo' 
  24. ^ "Henry Gonzales v Boiron Inc et al" PDF CourthouseMewscom August 4, 2011 
  25. ^ "Gallucci v Boiron, Inc, et al" PDF gilardicom August 13, 2012 Retrieved 2013-11-08 Pursuant to the Court’s April 25, 2012 Order Granting Preliminary Approval “PA Order”, Dkt 89, Plaintiffs Salvatore Gallucci, Amy Aronica, Kim Jones, Doris Petty, and Jeanne Prinzivalli respectfully submit this Memorandum in support of their Motion for Final Approval of the proposed classwide Settlement with Defendants Boiron, Inc and Boiron USA, Inc 
  26. ^ Bucher, Anne "9th Circuit Upholds Boiron Homeopathic Remedy Settlement" TopClassActionscom Retrieved 2015-05-20 On Tuesday, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Boiron homeopathic remedy class action settlement after disagreeing with an objector who had argued the 2012 deal was the result of collusion In his appeal to the 9th Circuit, objector Henry Gonzales argued that the Boiron class action settlement was not fair, reasonable and adequate He also argued that the $5 million false advertising settlement amount represents less than 1 percent of Boiron’s retail sales and that Class Members would have had a better shot at a fair deal if the class action lawsuit had gone to trial The three-judge appellate panel disagreed with Gonzales and found that US District Judge John A Houston did not abuse his discretion by approving the Boiron homeopathic remedy class action settlement back in 2012 
  27. ^ The Web’s Backstroke "In a classic case of "harm set, harm get", a French homeopathy giant earns public condemnation after threatening a private critic with legal action" Lab Times, May 2011

External links

  • The True Story of Oscillococcinum, homeowatchorg
  • Flu Symptoms Try Duck, US News & World Report, February 17, 1997

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