A naturopath from Canada has come under intense scrutiny after they posted a blog post online about how they treated a boy with behavioural problems using saliva from a dog infected with rabies.
Anke Zimmerman is an accredited naturopath and was asked by a client to help treat a 4-year-old boy behaving abnormally and aggressively. He regularly hid under tables, growled at other people, and had trouble sleeping due to a crippling fear of werewolves. Writing in her blog Zimmerman spoke of how she treated him:
“A bite from an animal, with or without rabies vaccination has the potential to imprint an altered state in the person who was bitten, in some ways similar to a rabies infection.”
As part of her “analysis and plan” to treat the condition Zimmerman purchased and recommended lyssinum, a homeopathic remedy made from the saliva of a rabies infected dog. The boy supposedly recovered after the treatment with his mother telling Zimmerman:
“His restlessness is much better! And oddly enough, he now wants to be a werewolf for Halloween, he told us that he is not afraid of werewolves anymore.
“And there have been no complaints from his teachers this week. He is still growling when he's angry, but overall he seems to be lighter and happier. Usually his brother and him fight quite a bit but he has been calmer this week, more relaxed.”
While it took some time, in April this year Zimmerman received a furious backlash. Rabies is an incurable condition that is always fatal in humans, and by exposing a toddler to the disease Zimmerman was behaving in a dangerous, negligent and irresponsible manner. Jen Gunter, a Canadian gynaecologist who helps debunk many of the dubious claims made by naturopaths told one magazine,
“Yes, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t say your treatment has a dilute amount of rabies but also poses no risk. It’s either rabies free, meaning water, or it’s not and hence unsafe. It is clearly water/a sugar pill and hence a scam.”
Meanwhile Bonnie Henry, British Columbia’s senior health officer told CBS,
“There’s no way I can understand why we would have anything that was meant to be saliva of a rabid dog approved for use in this country.”
Homeopathy is based on the rationale that water containing active chemicals can be diluted to the point where the chemical is no longer present and then be used to treat someone with a condition. In this case, it involves using the same chemical believed to be causing the symptoms, but other times it may be a diluted version of the treatment and not the cause.
Ultimately, because the water is diluted to the point where there is no longer any medication present it cannot and does not work. Numerous scientific publications have confirmed this including literature reviews and meta-analyses, and slowly more and more governments are beginning to realign with the evidence. The NHS has stopped covering homeopathy and the FDA has announced it will begin cracking down on homeopathic remedies.