Osillococcinum – its origons, i.e., how is it made and its ‘science’

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Posted 22 January 2016

In a comment to the posting, Why an ineffective flu remedy (Oscillococcinum) is still being advertised in South Africa, a reader drew our attention to the excellent article Ososillyococcinum and other Flu bits by Mark Crislip on the blog, Science-Based Medicine, which explains the bizarre rationale for how this product was created and how it is manufactured. Very funny, (O-so-silly-ococcinum) but very serious. Worth a read.

In the 1919 flu epidemic a physician who did not understand that artifacts on the slide, probably bubbles, move randomly due to Brownian motion.  Looking at the tissues of flu patients with a microscope, he  found what he thought was not only the cause of influenza, but the cause of all diseases: small cocci (round balls) that oscillated under the microscope.  He found these wiggling bubbles in all the tissues of all the ill people he examined and thought he discovered the true cause of all disease.  Sigh.  Yet another cause of all illness. He is the only person, before or since, to see these oscillating cocci. Hence the name.

Subsequently, for obscure reasons, he became of the opinion that the heart and liver of the Muscovy Duck were the most concentrated source of these oscillating cocci.  I have found the suggestion that it was because duck liver and heart is a source of influenza, but the product predates the discovery of the influenza, so that would be an oh so silly explanation.

Read Ososillyococcinum and other Flu bits (opens in a new browser tab)

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