Saw a commercial for a new* flu remedy called Oscillococcinum. First reaction was that it might be a drug company selling a flu remedy based on antibiotics. The name certainly sounds like an antibiotic. That would be ridiculous, because antibiotics don’t cure viruses. They even know this in Mississippi.
A few months ago I came down with bronchitis. Because I was out of town I went to the emergency room, and ended up with a doctor I liked. He said cold remedies are completely useless except as a pain reliever. According to him, the only over the counter cold remedy that works is Sudafed. Furthermore, he said honey was just as effective at helping a sore throat as your Nyquil and other over the counters. He also told me using antibiotics would be completely useless in 99.9% of cases. That’s because bronchitis is almost always caused by a virus. Influenza is also a virus*. If your doctor says you have the flu – or bronchitis– and gives you antibiotics, all he’s really doing is making the pharmaceutical companies money. He’s also shutting you up by giving you a placebo.
*Duh. Although it can sometimes be accompanied by or followed up by a bacterial infection
We’ve all thought when we take Nyquil all we’re doing is knocking ourselves out so we can stay asleep. And that’s pretty much what’s happening – you’re just getting yourself high and falling asleep. It doesn’t cure you, but it does help you tolerate being ill. Oscillococcinum isn’t even doing that. Wanna know why? Because nothing’s in it. The active ingredients – which are duck guts – are so diluted that even if they were a cure for the flu they wouldn’t be in high enough concentration to have any effect. It’s a homeopathic remedy, and homeopathy is absolute, undeniable, quackery bullshit. It’s a sham.
Here’s a quick synopsis of how the drugs used in homeopathy are created:
1) Take something that has little to no provable ability to cure a given medical condition. For example, duck guts for the flu.
2) Put it in solution with a solvent (usually simple water or alcohol).
3) Bang that solution, while in a vial, on the lab desk a few times.
4) Take that solution, dilute it down further with the same solvent, and repeat.
5) Continue repeating until the original active ingredient is diluted to such a level there’s a chance none of it is left in solution.
6) Tell people this will cure their illness – preferably one that doesn’t have a scientifically proven cure – and take their money.
That’s actually the process. The key part here is when they bang the solution on the counter. This is when the water or alcohol somehow takes on the properties of the dissolved ingredient. Really. That’s what they say. Don’t you think if this worked we would know about it? That we would be taught these things in elementary school? We could cure world hunger – drop a piece of steak in a bottle of water, shake it up and BAM – steak water. Protein for all.
Here is an exact quote from Wikipedia about Oscillococcinum:
“A popular homeopathic treatment for the flu is a 200C dilution of duck liver, marketed under the name Oscillococcinum. As there are only about 1080 atoms in the entire observable universe, a dilution of one molecule in the observable universe would be about 40C. Oscillococcinum would thus require 10320 more universes to simply have one molecule in the final substance.”
Yup. This solution is so ineffective we would need an unfathomable number of more universes to make it observable. And once we did that, we’d still just be observing duck guts.
I’d like to go on, but it isn’t worth it. Unless I get into the other facets of homeopathy, there
isn’t much else to say. Really. Don’t use anything that markets itself as homeopathy because it’s purebred bullshit. If something’s an over the counter medicine, you should probably research before using it*. That alone doesn’t mean it won’t work, but it should give you reason to investigate. That’s not to say all prescription drugs work. However, when you’re prescribed something you are consulting a professional – called a doctor – whose job is to give you good advice. It might not end up being the right thing, but odds are it’ll be better than what you get while flipping between Top Chef and Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
*And try to find independent research and analysis