Overview

Oscillococcinum is a brand name homeopathic product manufactured by Boiron Laboratories. 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 the common cold, 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.

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