Sunday, February 13, 2011

Homeopathy: The Make-Believe Medicine

While I was watching TV last weekend, I saw an odd commercial.

Oscillococcinum. That’s a long word that sounds a lot like the technical name that you might associate with many other medicines: acetaminophen, pseudoephedrine, fexofenadine, and so on. You would logically think that it is a new drug to treat flu symptoms.

What is oscillococcinum (oss-sillo-kok-sin-um), exactly? According to the website for this particular product, it is "anas barbariae hepatis et cordis extractum 200CK” with added sucrose and lactose (that is, sugar).

Nothing like a dead language to obscure what the ingredient really is: “Muscovy (wild) duck liver and heart extract.” Notice that nowhere on the product’s website do they actually explain this.

White Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata) with wings outstretched
(Photo by Steven H. Keys, from Wikimedia Commons)