A Victoria naturopath who controversially used rabies-infected saliva to treat a child has surrendered her licence with the College of Naturopathic Physicians of B.C. However, Anke Zimmermann will continue to work as an unregulated homeopath.
The college investigated whether Zimmermann “met the standard of care in her treatment of the young boy with lyssinum,” Howard Greenstein, the college’s registrar and CEO, said in a statement.
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 basis 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.
Zimmermann voluntarily surrendered her licence and agreed not to apply for reinstatement for at least five years.
She will continue to practise homeopathy, an “alternative” practice that has been criticized for its lack of scientific proof.
In a public notification, the college said Zimmermann told an inquiry committee that complying with the college’s bylaws on immunization would make it difficult for her to serve her patients with integrity.
“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 wrote.
Zimmerman told the Times Colonist: “I swore an oath to be of service to humanity, not to the college.”
In a post on her website, she said she will not stop speaking or writing about what she’s hearing from parents, “that vaccines hurt their children and even caused autism.”
Zimmermann criticized the college for banning her from providing materials to patients regarding concerns about vaccines.
Greenstein said the issue of whether homeopaths should be regulated is not one for the college to address.
“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.”
Zimmermann wrote on her website this year that she had treated a four-year-old patient with a non-toxic remedy that included lyssinum, a product said to be made from rabies. The boy had been bitten by a dog years earlier, and a popular course of treatment in the homeopathic world is to use lyssinum.
Zimmermann’s actions attracted the attention of provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, who expressed “grave concerns” and asked Health Canada to review its approval of the product. Lyssinum could potentially put patients at risk of contracting rabies, Henry said in a statement in April. Health Canada is investigating.
Anke said on her website she filed a formal complaint about Henry with the Ministry of Health, MLAs and the premier.