A naturopath controversially claims she treated a four-year-old boy with behavioural problems using saliva from a rabid dog.
Anke Zimmerman, a licensed member of the College of Naturopathic Physicians of British Columbia, alleged the bizarre remedy worked in ‘minutes’.
Worried staff at the boy’s preschool in Victoria – 70 miles (114km) south of Vancouver, moaned that he ‘hides under tables and growls at people’.
Dr Zimmermann, who charges $170 Canadian (£95) for hour-long consultations, suggested his issues had arisen when he was bitten by a dog as a toddler.
She took the homeopathic approach, in that ‘like cures like’ to treat the boy, named only as Jonah. No scientific evidence exists to prove it works.
He was given lyssinum, the medical term for saliva from a dog infected with rabies – a disease that is usually always deadly in humans.
Anke Zimmerman, a licensed member of the College of Naturopathic Physicians of British Columbia, alleged the bizarre remedy worked in ‘minutes’
Furious medical experts have been up in arms over the supposed remedy, and has led to officials issuing their ‘grave concerns’.
Bonnie Henry, senior health officer of British Columbia, told The Washington Post: ‘There is no evidence I am aware of that shows lyssin has any therapeutic benefit.’
She also said Jonah would be at risk of contracting rabies, ‘a serious, fatal illness’, if he was actually given saliva from a rabid dog.
Dr Henry has since written to Health Canada, the nation’s public health agency, to voice her concerns over why lyssinum is not banned in the state.
But Dr Zimmermann, who has been practicing for 26 years, has since blasted Dr Henry as being ‘completely uneducated about homeopathy’.
In a scathing attack posted on her website, Dr Zimmermann argued she doesn’t ‘understand how rabies is transmitted’.
WHAT ARE THE ORIGINS OF HOMEOPATHY?
Homeopathy was first coined in 1807 by German doctor Samuel Hahnemann, and focuses on three principles: like cures like, dilution, and ‘water remembers.’
Dr Hahnemann believed that medicine in his time was doing more harm than good, so he began to conduct experiments on volunteers and himself.
One such experiment included eating the bark of a cinchona tree, which was then used as a treatment for malaria. Scientists have since found that this bark contains quinine, an antimalarial drug.
After eating some of the bark, Hahnemann experienced symptoms which he likened to those of malaria, spawning the first principle ‘like cures like.’
The doctor thought that if a substance in large doses causes certain symptoms, it can be used in small doses to cure them.
According to the British Homeopathy Association, the remedies are used by over 200 million people worldwide to treat both acute and chronic conditions.
She wrote: ‘Dr Bonnie, you should know that rabies is transmitted by the bite of a rabid dog or other animal.’
The Mayo Clinic states the virus, which is completely preventable with a vaccine, can be spread when saliva gets into an open wound or is swallowed.
Dr Zimmermann announced the boy had ‘improved nicely’ on her blog earlier this year. It has since been taken down.
However, the case has only just been given the spotlight after critics opposed to alternative medicines spoke of their concerns.
Dr Zimmermann wrote at the time ‘people who need Lyssinum’ are often afraid of the dark, dogs, water, have trouble falling asleep and are overly excitable.
In her blog post, she said: ‘Within a minute or two of giving him the remedy Jonah smiled at me very broadly and beautifully, as if all the lights had just gone on.’
According to The Washington Post, Dr Zimmermann added: ‘We said our goodbyes, and I felt a warm feeling of hope for this boy.’
She told CBC earlier this week: ‘There’s no common consensus about how the remedies work, but that they work is pretty clear.’
Dr Zimmermann added: ‘There are literally hundreds of millions of people around the world using homeopathy.’
The case comes after a study, published yesterday, found hundreds of GP surgeries in England have been prescribing homeopathic treatments.
Research by Oxford University found one in 12 practices had used the controversial alternative therapies – even though there is no scientific evidence that it works.
Simon Stevens, head of NHS England, last year urged doctors to stop prescribing homeopathy remedies as part of a major cost-cutting drive.
Health service guidelines state they are no better than placebos and should not be used to treat any health condition.