The headline just about says it all, but let’s unpack it a bit because there are many levels of WTF on display.

A friend sent me this link on Facebook.

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At first I asked if this was from The Onion, because honestly after reading I wasn’t sure.

But no, Dr. Zimmerman is really a naturopath and, well, this is how she summarized the problem…

This is a 4-year-old boy who is suffering from an inability to fall asleep at night, a fear of the dark, of wolves, werewolves, ghosts and zombies and who frequently hides under tables and growls at people. He is overly excitable and has a tendency to defiance. He was normal as a baby, not affected by sleep or temper problems.

It is clearly a great business model to medicalize the fear of monsters, excitability, and defiance in 4-year-olds, either that or developmental pediatrics is not a subject taught in naturopathic schools. Maybe it would detract from Tinctures 101.

Dr. Zimmerman’s diagnosis was a previous bite from a dog recently vaccinated with rabies thus affecting “the boy with the rabies miasm.”

I am totally sure that was first on every pediatrician’s list as well.

I had to look up “miasm” because it sounded like a totally made up word. A miasma is “the ghost of the disease state still rampant in the energy system.” So it’s a word for a totally made up illness. Rabies is a killed virus, so I guess the ghost of rabies walks among those who have been vaccinated just looking to infect victims? That sounds more like a zombie, but perhaps I’m splitting hairs.

Also, that’s not how germ theory works, but whatever.

It actually gets worse as Dr. Zimmerman treated this terribly affected, yet normal 4-year old with a homeopathic remedy called lyssinum, which claims to be made from rabies, because obviously homeopathy treats like with like.

At first I thought, okay, she is some rogue homeopathy but, yeah, nope. HuffPost in Canada e-mailed the homeopathic board that oversees Dr. Zimmerman and as far as they are concerned DILUTE RABIES SALIVA IS A LEGIT HOMEOPATHIC TREATMENT.

The naturopathic board told HuffPost, “Lyssinum is not excluded from the pharmacopoeia for naturopathic doctors in B.C. Homeopathy, which includes the use of substances such as lyssinum, is a traditional modality with a long history in the naturopathic scope of practice; it is still used by some naturopathic doctors today.”

Health Canada also has this product under the names lyssin and hydrophobium (okay, that last one made me laugh a little).

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So. Many. Questions.

Naturopaths who use this must believe that somewhere, at some point in time after 1895 some brave naturopath was able to get saliva from a rabid dog without getting rabies and then handle the virus safely to dilute it out of existence. Getting the virus would not have been impossible in those days, obvious Louis Pasteur and Edward Jenner were working with viruses that could have killed them without a level 2 biosafety lab, but then again they didn’t believe that the viruses could kill via ghost action.

Then there is the whole concept that you are claiming to have a pill or a tincture or whatever made from a virus with essentially a 100% mortality (there have been three known survivors). Obviously, the pills/tincture are placebo, but the idea is a bit disconcerting,

And of course the idea that you are treating a ghost illness with a zombie of a virus that has been diluted so much it doesn’t really exist.

This is so ridiculous it is offensive.

While no child is going to be harmed with this placebo therapy there is obviously the possibility there could have been a real medical condition that required therapy (And the waste of money).

The thing that bothers me the most though is naturopaths also push Lyssin/Lyssinium as a way to vaccinate animals against rabies. Put aside the idea that they believe the vaccination of a dog and the treatment of a child’s behavior requires the exact same medicine and just think about the damage that could be done if more people stop vaccinating their dogs and cats against rabies, a disease with essentially a 100% mortality that is also essentially 100% preventable.

This whole idea would be ridiculous if it were not so enraging.

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  1. I come from South-Eastern Ontario [1]. Anyone approaching me or a member of my family with ” diluted dog rabies saliva” would be considered criminally insane and treated as dangerous lunatic.

    [1] Before heroic work by Federal, Provincial and neighbouring US States’ health and natural resources departments we considered ourselves to be the rabies capital of the world.

  2. Of course it works. They become paralyzed ( well except for the spasms) and then die. It is very calming. Please tell me this is a joke,

  3. This child was afraid of “wolves, werewolves, ghost and zombies”. No wonder he had behavior problems. At four years old he is too young to be exposed to these scary creatures which are not real except for wolves. They are probably very real to him, as young children cannot always tell real from make believe. There is enough scary stuff for children in the world that is real without exposing them to this unnecessary junk. If he had not been not exposed to these things he probably would not have needed any kind of treatment at all. Exposing children to things that are not ready to understand is child abuse.

    1. Seriously, when I was four I knew that wolves existed.

      I had never heard about werewolves or zombies. I might have heard about ghosts.

      Someone was completely irresponsible in controlling this poor boys media consumption.

      1. LOL – you need to relax a little. Even Sesame Street has taken on zombies & werewolves. Maybe they weren’t as ubiquitous when you were a child, but there’s no way I could’ve kept my (now 7 year old) son from learning about them in one form or another. I mean, did you not attend Halloween parties at age 4?

  4. The part that scares me the MOST is these people (parents and the ND herself) actually vote in society and have an effect on how the world’s governments are run and what is and isn’t deemed acceptable
    Dr. Dave

  5. The best thing about this article? We may very well look back and laugh at the shock and awe of this treatment in 50 years and wonder why anyone thought it was nutso, because it’s an everyday intervention and actually works. I’m hoping not, but remember when doctors told their pregnant patients to drink more coffee and smoke to keep their weight down? Yes. True story. I love that many in our profession reference those in other types of practices use the word, “quack.” All that said, I hope the kid gets the care he needs. His reported behavior conjured a list DDs that require swift and responsible intervention.

    1. Lucy — Have you seen Star Trek 4 “The Voyage Home”? There is a scene in the movie where Dr McCoy (now back in the 1980s) treats a epidural hematoma with ultrasonic (?) epidural artery reconstruction as opposed to a Burr hole (“drilling holes in his head is not the answer!” he said) and renal failure will some sort of kidney regrowth pill that he pulls from his black bag (“Dialysis? Are we in the dark ages”…or something like that). But because there was future progress did not mean his 1980s medical colleagues were practicing bad medicine — Burr holes and dialysis were then and are now well supported by evidence based medicine. That’s the beauty of the scientific method — while the progress is not always linear there is always progress and eventually there is the possibility of all current evidence based therapies to be replaced by new treatments with better evidence (medical therapy for appendicitis? nerve stimulation for hypertension? Who knows….) Homeopathy enjoys no such current support — there is simply neither scientific evidence nor remotely plausible mechanism(s) of action that would support what this naturopath did.

  6. The reason that this is happening in Canada and the UK is because they both have national health care, but have cut the numbers of specialists so severely that alternatve meds is taking over those roles.

    1. Anthroposophic medicine (weird Steiner cult stuff which involves rotting mistletoe extracts, homeopathy and herbal concoctions) suggests that illness maybe the result of past lives and how an illness progresses is due to “karmic destiny”. It’s very anti-vaccination and believes that catching certain vaccine preventable diseases is necessary to the correct spiritual develop of children.

      Some naturopaths really like it. Both naturopathy and anthroposophy have the same sorts of roots in that strange mix of German “folkishness” and esotericism.

      And yes, homeopath does entertain the notion that “dis-ease” can be caused by ghosts of disease.

  7. She doesn’t even get the definition of miasma right. It’s how physicians and scientists described what was later to be discovered as infection causing viruses and microbes. Miasma=bad air or vapours back in the dark ages.

  8. So the doc is prescribing tongue of dog? How about eye of newt? Maybe the kid’s problem is because a lizard once gave him a nasty look.

  9. There’s a lot of wacky people out there. Just look at the state of USA govt. I shouldn’t have brought it up, now I have to go take another dram of laudanum.

  10. Forget the business of the “nosode”. It’s harmless in itself as long as manufactured to the required standards.

    There are a number of issues here, not in any particular order –

    1. The “scope of practice” of BC naturopaths as written in law allows them to treat children. Children can not legally given informed consent to being treated by a naturopathy.
    2. Zimmerman is treating a child with behaviour difficulties. She may have a BSc in Psychology but no has obvious qualifications or training in paedatric psychology/psychotherapy, especially not relating to the kind of behavioural issues involved. Zimmerman is obviously not competent to make any kind of diagnosis – her diagnosis is “possibly bitten by a dog”. Zimmerman is obviously not competent to treat such issues – her solution is a magic pill.
    3. Zimmerman has no obvious training in child protection issues.
    4. Use by parents of naturopathic practitioners instead of (as opposed to adjunctive to), in this case, a pediatric psychologist/psychotherapist (especially one specialising in behaviour issues) can be considered neglect. For child protection professionals this can be a warning sign of more general neglect.

    More worryingly Zimmerman also offers to “treat” autistic children. Zimmerman offers something called CEASE therapy). CEASE therapy discourages vaccination, use of antibiotics, pretty much all medicines. CEASE therapy blames autism mostly on vaccination. Mostly worrying it involves ignoring symptoms of potentially serious conditions. It is pretty much outright neglect. It’s child abuse. (I’ve blogged about as great length but gives a flavour of how negligent it is).

    Zimmerman does not appear to offer chelation but it in the BC Naturopathy scope of practice along with all sorts of other nasties like ozone therapy.

    The scandal here is that the British Columbia Health Professions Act (HPA) does not seem to allow the Minister of Health to legally change the scope of practice as originally granted. The Minister can order an inquiry and issues requirements but not to change the scope of practice via a change to a College’s byelaws. The HPA clearly needs amendment to protect the vulnerable. Or alternatively, judicial review of the decision to recognise naturopathy and grant its scope of practice needs to happen. BC doesn’t have a limitation on when petition for judicial review can be made.

    This isn’t confined to BC – Alberta, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan all license naturopathic practitions.

  11. Please, please, please keep debunking this garbage Dr Jen. We need more legitimate scientists to be more vocal about these charlatan “cure alls, ” in order to protect the population from their own health illiteracy.

  12. And….to add insult to logical injury, the description of the homeopathic treatment has a punctuation boo-boo…. “a Pets immunity” instead of “a Pet’s immunity”..and while we’re at it, why capitalize “Pets?”

  13. FFS! These parents should be locked up! This was their first thought when dealing with what they thought was a sick child? Where’s Social Services when they’re needed. God help the child. He’s got no chance.

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