Victoria naturopath who used diluted rabid dog saliva as treatment surrenders her licence

Victoria naturopath who used diluted rabid dog saliva as treatment surrenders her licence
B.C. naturopath who prescribed rabid dog saliva remedy to a child surrenders her licence
A B.C. naturopath who made headlines last spring for treating a boys behaviour issues with a homeopathic remedy based on the saliva of a rabid dog has voluntarily given up her naturopaths licence.

In a public notice posted to the website, the College of Naturopathic Physicians of British Columbia stated that it conducted an investigation into Anke Zimmermann. At a meeting, she expressed to the college that she felt that complying with the Colleges Bylaws and Policies, in particular, the Immunization Standard, made it difficult for her to serve her patients with her integrity.

READ MORE: A 4-year-old was ‘growling like a dog.’ A B.C. naturopath’s cure? Rabid dog saliva

She voluntarily surrendered her naturopathic licence, according to the notice, but intends to continue practising as a homeopath.

B.C.s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, told Global News in April that she was unaware of any evidence that showed the remedy, called Lyssinum, had any therapeutic benefit.

More importantly, I am concerned that if a product did actually contain what is suggested, saliva from a rabid dog, that would put the patient at risk of contracting rabies, a serious, fatal illness.

Homeopathic remedies like Lyssinum are usually diluted many times so that little, if any, of the original substance remains. In a blog post on her website, Zimmermann said that the pills contained no virus of any kind, and that her critics cant have it both ways, by saying that homeopathic medicine is both highly diluted and potentially dangerous.

In a Facebook post, Zimmermann said that she handed in her licence because she disagreed with the Colleges policy that forbids discussing concerns about vaccines and autism. In B.C., naturopaths are not allowed to counsel against immunization without a sound medical reason for doing so.

In May, the College of Naturopathic Physicians of British Columbia posted a notice on its website saying that naturopaths must not provide patients or the public at large with anti-vaccination materials or materials regarding the potential risks and harms of vaccinations “other than those materials that would be necessary to obtain informed consent to immunizations.”

The College of Naturopathic Physicians of B.C. says Anke Zimmermann voluntarily gave up her licence after a “collegial discussion” with its inquiry committee earlier this month. 

At the centre of the discussion was the colleges policy on immunization — which forbids naturopaths from including anti-immunization materials in their advertising and from counselling patients against vaccination without a properly documented medical rationale.

“The registrant indicated that she felt that complying with the colleges bylaws and policies, in particular, the immunization standard, made it difficult for her to serve her patients with her integrity,” the college said in a public notification.

“The registrant understood the colleges standards of practice and that her approach to practice does not align with the colleges regulation of the profession in that area.”

The college said Zimmermann made it clear in their meeting that she intends to practise as a homeopath. Homeopathy — an alternative health profession not regulated in B.C. — involves treating sick people with extremely minute doses of substances that might cause similar symptoms to their disease. 

Deputy college registrar Phillipa Stanaway said in an email that the college “strongly recommends the public choose a registered health professional when seeking health-care related treatment.”

Zimmermann told CBC News she chose to surrender her licence because the colleges policies on immunization prevent her from practising how she prefers. She particularly objected to the idea that she shouldnt develop treatments for autistic children based on the unsupported theory that vaccines cause autism.

Zimmermann said she relies on parents to tell her that their childrens autism is linked to childhood immunizations.

“I dont tell them that their child was vaccine-injured. They come to me — theyre calling me from all over the world, saying this is what happened to my child, can you please help me? And what am I supposed to do, not help them?” she said.

CHEK NewsMoreThere is no evidence that vaccines cause autism, and plenty of strong scientific research contradicting that theory. 

When asked why a parent with no professional health training should be trusted to diagnose a child, Zimmermann said: “If they tell me their child has a reaction from their vaccination, I have no reason not to believe them. Parents know their children better than any medical professional.”

Zimmermann described her meeting with college representatives as “very respectful and mutually helpful.” The loss of her licence means she cannot call herself a naturopath or a doctor, and she is not subject to the colleges standards of care.

“In terms of the treatments or the care that I provided to my patients before, its really not going to change because I mostly used homeopathy anyway,” she said.

Some naturopaths in B.C. are also qualified to provide vaccinations and write prescriptions, but Zimmermann said she didnt have those qualifications. Now that she has surrendered her licence, she wont be allowed to apply for reinstatement with the college for five years.

Zimmermann made headlines around the world in the spring after she wrote a blog post claiming she had used a homeopathic solution called lyssinum to bring a four-year-old with behavioural problems “back into a more human state from a slightly rabid dog state.”

She said the boy was violent toward classmates, had trouble sleeping and experienced nightmares about werewolves and wolves.

Lyssinum, also known as lyssin or hydrophobinum, is made by repeatedly diluting the saliva of a rabid dog in water. Lyssinum is generally approved for use in Canada, but the brand that Zimmermann used does not have a licence from Health Canada.

Zimmermann had also been the subject of complaints to the college for offering a homeopathic treatment that falsely claimed to completely eliminate autism. 

In May, the college banned so-called CEASE therapy — “complete elimination of autism spectrum expression” — saying it is based on the false premise that vaccines cause most autism. The college also said any claims of eliminating autism are likely to take advantage of the vulnerabilities of autistic children and their parents.

Her plan to act as a homeopath means she is theoretically free to continue offering CEASE therapy, which autism experts have described as bogus. She is now listed on the official CEASE website as one of least 17 unregulated practitioners who provide the treatment in B.C.

But Zimmermann told CBC that while she will continue to provide autistic children with the remedies, supplements and diet changes used in CEASE therapy, she wont call it CEASE. She said thats because she understands its misleading to claim “complete elimination” of autism.