Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Flu Remedy to Have on Hand

We're teetering on the edge of flu season, which this year promises to be extra nasty.

Understand this: I consider homeopathy to be the worst sort of quacky pseudo-science. I don't buy its theories in the least. But there's a homeopathic flu remedy called Oscillococcinum, found in most pharmacies, which always happens to work for me (if I take it right at the beginning of my flu). And it's worked for everyone I've ever told about it. And I even know some pharmacists who, abashedly, take it and swear by it. Though I'll note that there've been no studies clearly confirming its efficacy (on the other hand, there've been no clear studies, period).

If the flu really hits heavily, this stuff could sell out. So you may want to buy some now. Here's a $2 off coupon.

Here's instructions: as soon as you spot symptoms, on an empty stomach, dissolve the contents of one tube under your tongue. Don't eat for an hour. And don't brush with mint toothpaste for a couple of days...use baking soda or just a dry brush (mint is supposed to interfere with homeopathy). You shouldn't need to take more, but if symptoms do appear, take a half a tube once or twice per day. And avoid mint anything.

Since homeopathic medicines contain essentially nothing, you shouldn't have any side effects. You may feel mildly tired for the length of time you'd otherwise have been sick, but that's about it.


Dave said...

I've never heard of Oscillococcinum so this comment has nothing to do with its effectiveness.

It's always interested me that the proponents of homeopathy advocate the benefits of their remedies but then claim there is no harm if homeopathic medicines are taken, even for the wrong condition.

I just became familiar with the term "nocebo" a month ago. It helps explain some of my wariness:

Carrie said...

My mom has been using Oscillococcinum for over 20 years and found it works great for her, but it doesn't seem to work for me. However, I really like Boiron's Coldcalm remedy; works really well for me. Bizarre!

elhnad said...

Jim, have you tried other homeopathic medicine which didn't work out for you?

what supposed mechanism do you think this stuff is working if not by homeopathic principles?

I'm just trying to gauge your statement that homeopathy is bunk and take it in context with your experiences.


Jim Leff said...

Like most people with a scientific bent - including just about any scientist one might ask - I feel like the science behind homeopathy is, to use your term, bunk.

I know there are some European studies showing some success with homeopathy, but every time I've looked into them, they've turned out to have been seriously flawed.

So I'm not a believer. But I do know from experience that this particular medicine does work. So either:

1. Homeopathy works for reasons above/beyond what I deem the silly rationales currently offered (quite possible, given that, for example, we don't know how aspirin works, either, and kooky explanations for it certainly wouldn't tarnish the fact that it works), or...

2. This drug is working in spite of, rather than because of, its homeopathic formulation (i.e. there's something else going on), or....

3. Placebo is actually surprisingly effective (which is actually more of a corollary of #2). And it's famously hard to divorce this from empirical observations.

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