Cochrane Summaries

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Homeopathic Oscillococcinum® for preventing and treating influenza and influenza-like illness

Mathie RT, Frye J, Fisher P
Published Online: 
31 May 2013

Influenza ('the flu') is a highly infectious viral respiratory disease. Other than treatments for complications (such as pneumonia), the conventional medical strategies for the prevention or treatment of flu are not entirely effective or satisfactory. Oscillococcinum® is a highly diluted homeopathic preparation manufactured from wild duck heart and liver, which may be reservoirs of flu viruses. Some people take Oscillococcinum® either regularly over the winter months to prevent flu or as a treatment for flu symptoms. Results from two poorly reported clinical trials (total of 327 participants) do not show that Oscillococcinum® can prevent the onset of flu. Although the results from four other clinical trials (total of 1196 participants) suggested that Oscillococcinum® relieved flu symptoms at 48 hours, this might be due to bias in the trial methods. One patient reported headache after taking Oscillococcinum®.