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Oscillococcinum

Oscillococcinum® (Anas barbariae hepatis et cordis extractum 200CK HPUS)

While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • Anas barbariae, Anas barbariae hepatis et cordis extractum 200CK HPUS, Anas moschata, avian heart and liver, avian liver extract, Cairina moschata, canard de barbarie (French), duck liver extract, Muscovy duck, ornitococcinum, oscillo, oticoccinum.

Background

  • Oscillococcinum® (Anas barbariae hepatis et cordis extractum 200CK HPUS), a patented homeopathic preparation manufactured by a French-based company (Boiron Laboratories), is marketed and widely used for the treatment and prevention of influenza symptoms, including “feeling run down,” headache, body aches, chills, and fever. It is made from the heart and liver of wild duck and undergoes multiple dilutions (one part in 100, 200 times in a row, i.e., 200C), after which there are reportedly few to no original duck liver or heart molecules in the final product.
  • There is some preliminary evidence in humans suggesting that Oscillococcinum® may shorten the duration of the flu. However, it has not been found to prevent the flu. Despite its popularity and anecdotal reports of effectiveness, there is currently little scientific evidence that Oscillococcinum® is superior to placebo.
  • More research is required to determine the efficacy and safety of Oscillococcinum®, especially in young children and pregnant and lactating women.

Scientific Evidence

Uses

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

C Influenza (prevention)

Limited research reports that Oscillococcinum® may reduce the duration of influenza. There is a lack of evidence to support the use of Oscillococcinum® for influenza prevention. Additional research is needed before a firm conclusion can be made.

C Influenza (treatment)

There are some positive findings suggesting that Oscillococcinum® may reduce the duration of influenza, but despite positive findings, the effect tends to be small. Additional research is needed.

*Key to grades:

Tradition

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.

  • Insufficient available evidence.

Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)

  • Oscillococcinum® reportedly is most effective when taken immediately upon the onset of flu symptoms.
  • For cold or flu symptoms, dosing is based on manufacturer instructions. The entire contents of one tube should be dissolved in the mouth every six hours, up to three times daily until symptoms resolve. In clinical research, five doses were taken (the first sublingually (under the tongue) in the doctor’s office and then four on the following mornings and evenings).

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is a lack of safety information regarding the use of Oscillococcinum® in children less than two years old.
  • For cold or flu symptoms, dosing is based on manufacturer instructions (for children two years of age and older). The entire contents of one tube should be dissolved in the mouth every six hours, up to three times daily until symptoms resolve. It has been reported that when administered to children, the pellets may be dropped into 4-6 ounces of water, stirred, and then given by teaspoonful or sipped.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid with known allergy/hypersensitivity to Oscillococcinum® or to any component of the formulation.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Oscillococcinum® is said to be generally well tolerated when used in recommended doses for a short time (three days). If symptoms persist for more than seven days or worsen, the manufacturer recommends consulting with a healthcare provider.
  • The most frequent reported side effects with Oscillococcinum® use included muscle pain, low-grade fever, runny nose, headache, skin rash, itching, and earache.
  • Oscillococcinum® reportedly lacks sedative effects. It may be possibly safe when used by those performing tasks or jobs that require alertness (e.g., truck drivers or those who operate heavy machinery).
  • In theory, Oscillococcinum® may interact with the immune system. Use cautiously in immunocompromised patients or in those taking immunomodulators or antivirals.
  • Use cautiously in patients who have symptoms that persist for more than seven days or worsen.
  • Use cautiously in patients younger than two years of age; safety information for this age group is lacking.
  • Use cautiously in pregnant or breastfeeding women; safety information for this population is lacking. The manufacturer recommends that pregnant or breastfeeding women consult their physicians before using Oscillococcinum®.
  • Use cautiously in children, the elderly, patients with chronic disease, or those who cannot be vaccinated.
  • Avoid with known allergy/hypersensitivity to Oscillococcinum® or to any component of the formulation.
  • Note: In 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a warning letter stating that website Elixirs.com may contain information suggesting that Oscillococcinum® may be used to “diagnose, mitigate, prevent, treat (including to treat the symptoms of) or cure the H1N1 Flu Virus in people,” which had not been approved or authorized by the FDA. This information has since been removed from the website.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • There is a lack of sufficient data on the safety of Oscillococcinum® use in pregnant or breastfeeding women. The manufacturer recommends that pregnant or breastfeeding women consult their physicians before using Oscillococcinum®.

Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs

  • There are reports that Oscillococcinum® may be used safely with other over-the-counter or prescription medications.
  • Oscillococcinum® may interact with antivirals or agents that affect the immune system.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Reportedly, Oscillococcinum® may be used safely with other over-the-counter products.
  • Oscillococcinum® may interact with antivirals or agents that affect the immune system.

Author Information

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  1. Attena F, Toscano G, Agozzino E, et al. A randomized trial in the prevention of influenza-like syndromes by homeopathic management. Rev Epidemiol Sante Publique 1995;43(4):380-382. View Abstract
  2. Casanova P, Gerard R. Results of three years of randomised, multicentre studies on Oscillococcinum/placebo [Bilan de 3 annees d’etudes randomisees multicentriques Oscillococcinum/placebo]. 1992;
  3. Casanova P. Homeopathy, flu syndrome and double blinding [Homeopathie, syndrome grippal et double insu]. Tonus 1984;(25):26.
  4. Ernst E. A systematic review of systematic reviews of homeopathy. Br J Clin.Pharmacol 2002;54(6):577-582. View Abstract
  5. 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(3):329-335. View Abstract
  6. Guo R, Pittler MH, Ernst, E. Complementary medicine for treating or preventing influenza or influenza-like illness. Am.J Med 2007;120(11):923-929. View Abstract
  7. Jaber, R. Respiratory and allergic diseases: from upper respiratory tract infections to asthma. Prim Care 2002;29(2):231-261. View Abstract
  8. 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
  9. Nollevaux MA. 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;
  10. 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.
  11. Rottey EE, Verleye GB, Liagre RL. 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.
  12. van der Wouden JC, Bueving HJ, Poole P. Preventing influenza: an overview of systematic reviews. Respir Med 2005;99(11):1341-1349. View Abstract
  13. Vickers, A. J. and Smith, C. Homoeopathic Oscillococcinum for preventing and treating influenza and influenza-like syndromes. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2006;3:CD001957. View Abstract
  14. Vickers AJ, Smith C. Homoeopathic Oscillococcinum for preventing and treating influenza and influenza-like syndromes. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2004;(1):CD001957. View Abstract
  15. Vickers AJ, Smith C. Homoeopathic Oscillococcinum for preventing and treating influenza and influenza-like syndromes. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2000;(2):CD001957. View Abstract

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.