Thursday, December 23, 2010

Airborne, Oscillococcinum and Other Flu Remedies

With flu season in full swing, it's very easy to become desperate (flu, and associated symptoms can really wear you down), and pick up the first medicine you see in a pharmacy, especially if it is advertised as a "miracle" drug.
For many years such was the case with Airborne, which was advertised as a cold prevention medicine, until its makers were sued and had to settle and rephrase their claims (Cold Remedy Airborne Settles Lawsuit).
The new wonder-drug found all over the pharmacies this year is Oscillococcinum.
Is it any better? Does it help?
First, it's homeopathic, which is the first clue that the most you will probably get out of it is placebo effect. I will not get into in depth discussion of principles of homeopathy now, since they can be easily located on the Internet using Google, but to make it a short story: it's BS... sugar pill, water, etc.
It's actually entertaining to check the product Web page, and find this:
Each 0.04 oz. dose (1 g) of Oscillo contains 1 g of sugar
So, if 1g of the product contains 1g of sugar, where is the active stuff? Oh, I'm sorry, it's homeopathic, and it's the 200C dilution. 200C, means 10 to the 200 power. As anyone with any scientific knowledge would point out, that's way, way, way, way, way, way... more than all the atoms in the Universe. So, where is the active ingredient? Probably in our pockets, as this remedy tends to be rather pricey, especially for 1g of sugar.
If you want to get more, entertaining information about this, and other flu-related topics, check this out:
I keep half an eye on the medicine displays in stores when I shop, and this year is the first time I have seen Oscillococcinum being sold. Airborne as been a standard for years, but Airborne has been joined by Oscillococcinum on the shelves. Dumb and dumber. It may be a bad case of confirmation bias, but it seems I am seeing more iocane powder, I mean oscillococcinum, at the stores.

Ososillyococcinum and other Flu bits.

As, always, from the priceless Science-Based Medicine Blog.