B.C. naturopaths have filed a professional complaint against a Victoria-based practitioner after she prescribed a remedy made from rabid dog saliva to a four-year-old boy.
Anke Zimmermann is the subject of a complaint to the College of Naturopathic Physicians of BC after she wrote a blog post describing how she treated a boy who was showing aggressive behaviour, such as “growling like a dog.”
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The complainant? The BC Naturopathic Association (BCNA), an organization in which she doesn’t hold membership.
“We take no pleasure in filing a complaint against a registrant with our college,” said BCNA co-president Victor Chan.
“But we do so first and foremost in the public interest, to protect our profession’s reputation and to ensure that safe, competent and ethical care is delivered to all patients.”
In a February blog post, Zimmermann described how she prescribed a boy Lyssinum, a Health Canada-approved remedy made from the saliva of a rabid dog.
Homeopathy is based on what’s known as the “similarity principle” — an idea that a substance that triggers symptoms in a healthy subject can also treat a sick one.
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“So if somebody has certain symptoms, a remedy that would normally create such symptoms can potentially be helpful to that person,” she said in a previous interview with Global News.
The “growling” boy had been bitten by a dog years prior.
Zimmermann reasoned that, because that dog had likely been vaccinated for rabies, then rabid dog saliva might make him feel better.
According to her blog post, it did.
But now the BCNA is taking her to task for “possible violations” of the college’s code of conduct, its code of ethics and other matters.
“Dr. Zimmermann’s statements on her website and to the media have raised the concerns of B.C.’s provincial health officer and minister of health,” Chan said in a statement.
“We are concerned that certain statements and posts she has made, in person and online, appear to be contrary to the public interest in the practice of the profession — and therefore require action on the part of the regulator to intervene.”
B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry previously issued a statement saying that rabies is a “serious reportable communicable disease that is almost universally fatal in humans and in dogs.”
She was concerned that treating someone with Lyssinum could risk transmitting rabies.
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For her part, Zimmermann’s blog post has been substantially revised, replacing an account of the boy’s treatment with a passionate defence of her actions.
“It’s a sad day for Canada when a top health official, a medical doctor no less, causes alarm in the population because she expresses ‘grave concern’ that a homeopathic remedy made from rabies might infect someone and should perhaps be removed from the market,” she wrote.
Zimmermann went on to say that she’s received “hundreds of hateful messages, including threats of injury” due to what she called “misleading media coverage.”
She added, “The headlines should read: ‘Wonderful news: child greatly helped by a safe, effective and homoepathic remedy costing pennies. Great promise for children with behavioural and developmental disorders, a blessing for mankind.”
Global News has reached out to Zimmermann, and to the BCNA for comment.