Recent claims by a Canadian naturopath have caused concern in the medical community, sparking questions about why saliva, also known as lyssinum, lyssin or hydrophobinum, was approved by the government as a justifiable homeopathic product. 

The questions arose when Anke Zimmermann from Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, claimed in her blog in February she treated a 4-year-old boy’s behavioral problems by giving him a rabid dog’s saliva. 

In her blog, Zimmermann wrote she used the saliva to treat a preschool-aged boy, who was having trouble sleeping and behaving inappropriately inside the classroom. 

“His preschool is complaining that he hides under tables and growls at people,” she wrote in the post.

Zimmerman identified the child as Jonah and clarified he was bitten by a dog in the past, which led to his problems, she suspected. 

“People who need Lyssinum, also known as Hydrophobinum, are often afraid of the dark, of dogs, even of water, have trouble falling asleep and are overly excitable. Aggression can also be a strong feature as can dreams of dogs, wolves and being attacked. This can even develop into full psychosis,” she said.

After prescribing the treatment and giving him the remedy, she said Jonah smiled at her “very broadly and beautifully, as if all the lights had just gone.” 

British Columbia provincial health officer Bonnie Henry was not a fan of the treatment, and said it could be a health risk to users.  

“There is no evidence that I am aware of that shows Lyssin has any therapeutic benefit. More importantly, I am concerned that if a product did actually contain what is suggested, saliva from a rabid dog, that would put the patient at risk of contracting rabies, a serious, fatal illness,” she said, according to a report in the Washington Post.

In addition to that, Henry also said rabies is “a serious reportable communicable disease that is almost universally fatal in humans and in dogs, and it can be spread through saliva from an infected dog.” 

Gynecologist Jen Gunter also criticized Zimmermann’s claims and her use of such a notorious product.

boy Naturopath cures kid using rabid dog saliva. In this photo, a boy looks toward the Jefferson Memorial on the tidal basin on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., March 30, 2018. Photo: Getty Images / Brendan Smialowski

However, Zimmermann completely supported her treatment. Read the excerpt from her  blog

“Just think about how a dog who becomes infected with rabies might feel — scared and aggressive at the same time. A rabid dog will certainly growl at and try to bite other animals or people. Plus, it does not want to bite its master, but can't help itself. Wolves and foxes are natural hosts for rabies and the whole mythology around werewolves may be directly linked to rabies.

Wolves are not normally aggressive to humans, but a rabies-infected wolf can be highly aggressive, a totally different creature, a shape-shifter. In mythology, the bite of a werewolf can also turn other creatures into werewolves. The mythology around vampires is very similar.

Bottom line: Homeopathy can work wonders for children with behavioral disorders if the remedy can be clearly perceived. I have seen a number of similar cases over the years which helped me to recognize the remedy in this case so quickly. Lyssinum aka Hydrophobinum is only one of many remedies that can be helpful for children with rage, aggression and various behavioral disorders. There are many others. Treatment always needs to be individualized.” 

 Lyssinum is not excluded from the pharmacopeia 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." 

Meanwhile deputy registrar at the College of Naturopathic Physicians in British Columbia, Phillipa Stanaway, also spoke to HuffPost and said Zimmerman’s use of lyssinum was an accepted form of remedy.