It’s flu season again.
That means we get questions about Oscillococcinum?
Will it help prevent the flu? Should I take it if you feel like I’m coming down with something? How long should I take it? Should I take the whole bottle? What if I’m down to my last bottle? It doesn’t seem to be working so should I keep taking it?
There’s a lot of confusion over how and when to take this remedy.
Oscillococcinum is a homeopathic remedy made from the hearts and livers of wild ducks. Historically, respiratory epidemics have arisen in fowl.
This remedy was created by Boiron Laboratory in France, which still sells it today.
Oscillococcinum is widely available. It’s probably the most popular homeopathic remedy in the world. You can find it everywhere, in health food stores, grocery stores and at your local pharmacy.
Can it help prevent the flu? Among the homeopathic community, it’s widely believed it can.
It’s similar to another remedy called Influenzinum, made from the influenza virus. During epidemics influenzinum is often take prophylactically.
There are also more current nosodes (nosodes are remedies made from diseases or diseased tissue) of more recent viruses. It’s thought they might also help ward off bad bugs.
Scientific studies are considered the gold standard of proof. But because homeopathy is so individualized, it doesn’t lend itself to allopathic research.
Can Oscillococcinum Help With The Flu?
Yet there’s some evidence Oscillococcinum can lessen the severity of a flu.
On its website, Boiron notes the results of 1998 study published in the British Homeopathy Journal. It showed a modest benefit to taking Oscilliococcinum at the outset of illness. Among those who took it, 63 percent noticed significant improvement or total resolution of their symptoms after two days, compared with 48 percent in the control group.
As anyone familiar with homeopathy knows, remedy selection should be based on someone’s individual state. So this remedy would likely work best for someone who fits the Oscillococcinum profile.
What does that look like?
Gathering what I can from the Materia Medica, Oscillococcinum is suited for all types of flu, especially in the initial stages. So, in general, it’s best to take it early.
Otherwise, look for another remedy. Unless you have specific Oscillococcinum keynotes.
- Bursting Headache. In homeopathy headache sensations are very important. But a bursting headache is found with other flu remedies. This alone isn’t enough reason to take Oscillococcinum. But consider it along with other remedies that include severe headache with the flu.
- Sudden Onset. Oscillococcinum flus may come on suddenly, as they do with Aconite, Belladonna and Gelsemium. The fever can be high.
- Muscle Aches. This is a very common flu symptom. It’s not specific enough on its own to reach for the package of Oscillococcinum if you’re past the initial “I think I’m coming down with something.”
- Pallor. This is a typical manifestation of an acute illness. You need more data points to choose Oscillococcinum.
- Sensitivity to Cold. If you see this along with a few other symptoms listed above Oscillococcinum is a possibility.
- Stuffy nose. This describes dozens of cold and flu remedies. So don’t put too much emphasis on it.
- Gastrointestinal symptoms. Arsenicum and Nux Vomica are two other possibilities for flu with GI upset.
- Ear pain. This remedy has pain and ear congestion. The sensation is as if someone is sticking a needle in the ear.
- Anxiety. A number of other flu remedies cover the anxious state, including Arsenicum and Aconite. So you’d still need a constellation of symptoms to choose Oscillococcinum, based on this trait alone. You may see anxiety along with fastidiousness. This means the person may be obsessed with cleanliness and wants everything in place. He or she may wash their hands often or be afraid to shake someone else’s hand, for fear of exchanging germs.
- Better with heat. People who need Oscillococcinum are better with heat and rest.
Not everyone will have every symptom. You’ll never find a perfect match. You just want a remedy that fits close enough to trigger the healing response.
Oscillicoccinum has hallmarks of other popular flu remedies, including Gelsemium, Baptisia, Arsenicum, Eupatorium and Influenzinum. If they fail then Oscillococcinum is up for consideration.
Does Oscillococcinum Work For The Flu?
Oscillococcinum is probably best used periodically for prevention.
I wouldn’t take it all the time. But I’d consider it for a big holiday gathering or right before a plane trip, when I’d be exposed to a lot of germs. Or maybe once a month during flu season.
I’d also consider it at the very outset of the flu, while ignoring the instructions on the package. (More about this later.)
I’d take one dose and see what happens. I’d possibly repeat the remedy in two hours.
If two (three at the most) doses of Oscillococcinum didn’t help I’d look for another remedy.
With significant improvement I’d hold off on more doses unless I needed them.
With a settled virus, I’d only consider Oscillococcinum if I didn’t have another remedy identified. Or if first-line flu remedies like Gelsemium, Bryonia and Arsenicum didn’t work. Or if the above list of symptoms fit well.
How To Take Oscillococcinum
There are a few misconceptions about taking Oscillococcinum.
- Too many doses. The company that sells this remedy says to take it every six hours, up to three times a day, for as many as three days. This would be a total of nine doses of a 200C homeopathic remedy. With an early flu one dose of a 200C remedy could potentially knock it out. No more doses needed. (A 30C remedy may take repeated doses.) On the package, there’s no information on when to stop. For instance, someone could see significant relief after one or two doses. But they may keep taking it, potentially causing an aggravation. This would be a temporary increase in symptoms. It makes the person feel worse and confuses the case.
- Consuming the entire vial. The instructions say to take the entire vial. So people may buy a large “multi-dose” package, spending $50 when a smaller $15 package will last a lifetime. Even the smallest package is enough to split among several families, and everyone still has a lifetime supply. Just one tiny pellets equals one dose. Save the rest for later.
- Not considering a different remedy. Some people take Oscillococcinum long after it’s clear it’s not working. Maybe they didn’t take it soon enough after the onset. So a new remedy profile developed. Maybe Oscillococcinum doesn’t resonate with them. (Or maybe they took too many doses.)
The company says to “Stop use and ask a doctor if symptoms persist for more than 3 days or worsen.” This seems to be when people typically get on Facebook and ask for help in one of the homeopathy groups.
This is also when they might get bad advice. Unfortunately, this is just when their body needs the right remedy. So they can start to heal.
At this point they have two choices. They can either book a professional homeopathic consultation. (I would strongly recommend this option. Because the nasty viral stuff is harder to treat when it’s more advanced. )
Or they can do their own research, looking very carefully for a matching remedy.
Consider what makes you feel better or worse. These are the “modalities.” In general, don’t take a remedy unless the modalities line up.
Some of the top flu remedies are Gelsemium, Bryonia, Arsenicum and Rhus Tox. Eupatorium is another big flu remedy that features pains so bad it feels as if your bones will break. There’s also Baptisia for a more intense flu and Hepar Sulph for a “ripened” flu.
Hopefully you have a good general remedy guide at home. If not here’s a link to a free online Materia Medica to help with your research.