Homeopathic Flu Remedies: Do They Work?


With flu season in full swing, some Quebecers are turning to a homeopathicproduct to fight symptoms of the illness.

The product, however, is not without controversy and has been the subject of class action lawsuits over alleged misleading claims.

Oscillococcinum, a product manufactured by French company Boiron, is meant to betaken at the onset of flu-like symptoms and can be found on pharmacy shelves across the province.

"Oscillo acts effectively within 48 hours to reduce the duration of flu-like symptoms," the product’s website claims.

In April of last year, a $30-million class action lawsuit against Boiron as well as Shoppers Drug Mart, which sells the product, was launched in Ontario.

Other lawsuits have also been launched in the United States.

Ariel Fenster, a McGill University chemistry professor, doubts the product’s effectiveness.

According to the company, the product contains diluted heart and liver of Barbaryducks. Fenster argues that the premise that those ingredients can act as a cure is flawed. He also says the product is so diluted, it could not work.

But Jean-François Boyer, Montreal-based pharmacist, says that, while he wastaught during his schooling at Université de Montreal that homeopathy didn’t work, he has since changed his mind.

Boyer says he often points the product out to clients who come to his pharmacy with flu-like symptoms.

"We [recommended] it many times to our customers and we tried it ourselves and it works," he said.

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