Health Canada investigating use of unlicensed homeopathic remedy made from rabid dog saliva

The homeopathic remedy made from rabid dog saliva that a Victoria naturopath says she used to treat a small boy was not licensed for sale in Canada, and the federal government is opening an investigation.

Anke Zimmermann told CBC News earlier this week that she purchased her lyssinum from Helios Homeopathy in the U.K.  While the treatment — also known as lyssin or hydrophobinum — is approved in general by Health Canada, the lyssinum produced by Helios is not licensed for clinical use here.

“Helios Homeopathy does not hold a licence for any products containing the ingredient lyssin/hydrophobinum,” Health Canada spokesperson Andre Gagnon wrote in an email.

“Based on the information provided, Health Canada is opening a case for follow-up.”

The sale of unlicensed natural health products comes with possible penalties of up to three years in prison and $ 5,000 in fines, he said. According to Health Canada, it’s too early in the process to say whether Zimmermann or Helios would be the subject of any potential penalties if investigators find violations of Canadian law.

Naturopath responds

Zimmermann made headlines around the world this week after she wrote a blog post claiming she’d used lyssinum to bring a four-year-old with behaviour problems “back into a more human state from a slightly rabid dog state.”

She said Friday she was not aware of the Health Canada investigation. She said she was unsure about how the federal government’s licensing regulations apply to naturopaths.

“All homeopathic remedies are made according to strict standards. They all follow the same basic procedure,” she said.

Anke Zimmermann wrote about treating the boy in this February post to her website.(DrZimmermann.org)

Zimermann told CBC News she found the media attention to be “a bit excessive.”

“I think the focus should be more on the fact that this is something that really helped the child and has potential to help many people,” she said.

Her public comments about the treatment have prompted a complaint from the B.C. Naturopathic Association to the body that regulates naturopaths in this province.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, has also expressed “grave concerns” about Zimmermann’s claims and said she will write to the federal government about the case.

Lyssinum is what’s known as a homeopathic nosode, a remedy created by taking a bodily substance from a diseased human or animal and diluting it repeatedly in water and/or alcohol.

Zimmermann has said the saliva used to make lyssinum is diluted so many times that it contains no trace of the rabies virus.

Health Canada has approved a long list of nosodes, including remedies made from the cankers of syphilis patients, the cerebral fluid of people with meningitis and cells taken from carcinomas.

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