Anke Zimmermann, the Victoria naturopath who drew public attention for treating a child with a homeopathic solution made from rabid dog saliva, has surrendered her licence but says she will continue to act as an unregulated homeopath.
The College of Naturopathic Physicians of B.C. says Zimmermann voluntarily gave up her licence after a “collegiate discussion” with its inquiry committee earlier this month.
At the centre of the discussion was the college’s policy on immunization — the college 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 college’s 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 college’s standards of practice and that her approach to practice does not align with the college’s 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.
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 behaviour 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.
Treatment claimed to eliminate autism
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.
CBC has reached out to Zimmermann for comment, but she has yet to respond. On Wednesday, she posted on Facebook to say she had surrendered her licence because she could not abide by the college’s immunizations standards.
“Although most parents of children with autism who approach me already feel or know that their child was hurt by vaccines, this new bylaw has the potential to restrict me in offering assistance to many individuals or to share my findings with the world at large without being disciplined and potentially having my licence revoked,” she said.
There is no scientific evidence that vaccines cause autism.
Zimmermann won’t be allowed to apply for reinstatement with the college for five years.
Her plan to act as a homeopath means she will be free to continue offering CEASE therapy, which autism experts have described as “totally bogus.” She is now one of least 17 unregulated practitioners who provide the treatment in B.C., according to the official CEASE website.
Over the years, Zimmermann has written several blog posts claiming she has treated autism in children using homeopathic remedies, and alleging those cases were linked to childhood vaccines.