Earlier this month, a British Columbia Naturopath surrendered her license to the College of Naturopathic Physicians of B.C. Anke Zimmerman had been under scrutiny for treating a 4-year-old boy with saliva taken from a rabid dog. After posting a blog on her website about the treatment, several authorities began investigating the naturopath. However, Zimmerman did not get in trouble for giving rabies-infected medication to a child. The board grew concerned about a treatment she provides to children with autism. Zimmerman gave up her license because she refused to stop counseling patients that vaccines are dangerous.
In Canada, naturopathy is less regulated than in the United States. Canadian law states naturopaths do not have to disclose whether treatments are scientifically tested and effective. The government tests all natural products for safety rather than effectiveness.
Due to this regulation oversight, naturopaths in Canada have a lot of wiggle room to prescribe untested alternative treatments. If Health Canada approves medication as a “Natural Health” product, a practitioner can use the medicine on patients.
In a blog post, Zimmerman shared she used Lyssin on a 4-year-old-boy. Because Health Canada approved Lyssin, the law permitted Zimmerman to use the treatment on the child. However, her rationalization for using Lyssin is what got her in trouble.
According to her post, the boy exhibited signs of restlessness, aggression toward other children, feared werewolves, and he growled at people. Zimmerman concluded that a dog bite that that child sustained at age two caused his issues.
She believed the dog that bit the boy recently received a vaccination for rabies. After the dog got the rabies vaccine, he bit the child. Zimmerman thought that the dog infected the boy with the disease from the recent vaccination.
Now if that is not crazy enough, Zimmerman decided that to cure the boy she needed to treat him for rabies. Her solution for the boy was to give him Lyssin. Lyssin is a “medication” derived from the saliva of rabid dogs. The infected saliva medication allegedly rids the body of rabies.
Howard Greenstein, the director of College of Naturopathic Physicians of B.C., reviewed the post on her website. He stated that Zimmerman’s belief on vaccinations did not align with how the immunizations work. For instance, a rabies vaccination in a dog cannot spread rabies to humans. The treatment prevents rabies from infecting dogs with the fatal disease.
An investigation was opened into her practice by the College of Naturopathic Physicians of B.C. Through the investigation, the college hoped to determine if Zimmerman properly treated the boy with Lyssin. However, the research by the college led to her dismissal from practicing naturopathy.
In Canada, Naturopaths cannot tell any of their patients not to use vaccines. However, Zimmerman is an outspoken opponent of vaccinations. Her website details her belief that vaccines cause autism.
Even though there is no scientific evidence of a link between vaccines and autism, Zimmerman provides therapy to patients for curing autism. Her use of the specific treatment caused the most concern for the college.
According to a report in the Victoria Sun, the college suspected the therapy did not align with the regulations of the college.
“The college also conducted an investigation into Zimmermann’s use of CEASE therapy, an acronym for “complete elimination of autism spectrum expression.” Advocates of the therapy claim that homeopathy can be used to eliminate autism, based on the premise that autism is caused by vaccines, something that has no backing in scientific evidence.
The college investigated whether Zimmermann’s practices were in line with their immunization standard, which says naturopaths must not provide patients with anti-immunization materials, nor can they counsel patients against immunizations without a properly documented medical rationale.”
Zimmerman told the board that complying with the bylaws of the college would make it difficult for her to practice. She felt that she could not work with integrity. Because she refused to comply, she agreed to turn over her license.
Following the meeting, the college banned her from practicing naturopathy for five years. However, Zimmerman states she will continue to practice as an unregulated homeopath.
The college appeared unhappy with Zimmerman’s declaration about working without a license. Although the college does not regulate homeopathy, they provided their position on unregulated homeopathy practitioners. The college president, Howard Greenstein, crafted an email on the issue.
“However, the college strongly recommends the public choose a registered health professional when seeking health care,” he said in an email. “A regulated health professional needs to meet educational, training and ethical standards that can help in the delivering of safe care. Patients should check with the appropriate college to ensure their regulated health- care provider is registered.”
Even though she handed over her license, Zimmerman says she is planning to file a complaint against Greenstein with the Ministry of Health.
For now, Zimmerman cannot practice naturopathy and harm any more children with autism. Health Canada is working to determine if they will remove Lyssin from the market.
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