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There are some recent reports about a case where a homeopath treated a child with what they claimed is a homeopathic medicine based on saliva from a rabid dog (lyssinum).

Homeopath and naturopath Anke Zimmermann used diluted saliva from a rabid dog to “treat” a four-year-old boy, according to a blog post she published earlier this year. Zimmermann claims that the potentially infectious and deadly concoction successfully resolved the boy’s aggressive behavior, which she described as a “slightly rabid-dog state.”

Ars Technica: Health experts aghast after homeopath gives kid rabid-dog saliva

Now, the homeopath clearly claims that they treated the boy with this, but what I find quite hard to believe is that the homeopathic preparation is actually based on saliva from a rabid dog. Rabies is a deadly disease, getting a saliva sample from a rabid dog seems difficult enough already, but then also handling it without endangering yourself to create the hopefully harmless final dilutions seems quite difficult.

Is there any evidence that lyssinum is actually based on diluted saliva from a rabid dog?

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Yes, according to Health Canada, Canada's department of public health, lyssin/lyssinnum is sourced from the saliva of rabid dogs, and seems to be intended for pets and not people. Thankfully for everyone involved, it seems like it is just as ineffective as any other homeopathic product.


Health Canada Source: Here is Health Canada's information regarding 'nosodes', which are homeopathic products sourced from infectious material. On the linked list, you can see lyssin/lyssinum is in fact sourced from the saliva of rabid dogs. These products must comply with Canada's Non-Prescription Health Products Guide, so rabid dog saliva seems to be the genuine source for lyssinum.

Thankfully, these nosode treatments likely aren't dangerous, since ideally a homeopathic dilution will have no active ingredients left, and thus don't actually do anything. If they were a hazard to health, I presume(and hope) Health Canada would ban them and not provide dosage information.

Most of the homeopathic shops selling it seem to market is a pill supplement, and is intended for pets and not 4-year-olds. Furthermore, according to this study, lyssin supplements appear to be completely lack any evidence of efficacy, at least in regards to similar aggression-causing infections in cats.


As a side note, some homeopathic shops seem to sell lysine, which is an amino acid that certainly does have an effect on health, but is not related to rabid saliva.

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    The worry isn’t that the properly diluted homœopathic nosode may have an effect; rather, it’s that improperly prepared formulations might not be properly mixed, and therefore could contain orders of magnitude higher concentrations of the pathogen. I don’t know if this ever occurred in homœopathy but toxic impurities (and consequent poisoning) are somewhat common in ayurveda, a similar health scam. – Konrad Rudolph Apr 18 '18 at 16:02
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    Not all products marketed as homeopathic are diluted enough to be safe, and some are contaminated during manufacture. A concrete example is Hyland's homeopathic teething tablets, which cause seizures and even death. (Because of incidents like these, I don't trust the government to keep dangerous homeopathic medicines off the shelves.) – Laurel Apr 18 '18 at 16:10
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    @KonradRudolp(and Laurel): True, though if the product is still legal(in Canada at least), then presumably the risk of that happening is low enough to pass safety standards. However, lyssin products seem to be marketed for pets, which I assume means they have lower standards and I couldn't find any info on human trials. Personally, I trust the government to keep dangerous homeopathic products off the shelf, but I don't trust homeopath-sponsored 'research' papers to be honest about safety... – Giter Apr 18 '18 at 16:15
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    @Giter Unfortunately there's virtually no effective regulation of homoeopathic products, anywhere. – Konrad Rudolph Apr 18 '18 at 16:50
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    @KonradRudolph: Homeopathic products that actually can be provided by doctors have nearly the same requirements as regular medicine, the first requirement being that it is 'safe and effective'. Unfortunately, this doesn't apply to random firms, who only need to register as a 'drug establishment' to sell what homeopathic product they want, without first proving safety or effectiveness. – Giter Apr 18 '18 at 17:47
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Lyssinum is made from a rabies "nosode" 1. A nosode in homeopathy refers to a sample from a diseased animal or person 2. This doesn't really give us enough information to say that it was specifically saliva from specifically a rabid dog, but it is at the very least not too far from the truth as claimed by the producers of the 'remedy'.

Note that this doesn't necessarily mean that the producers need to keep around rabid dogs to repeatedly sample from. For one, it's entirely possible that the sample is taken from a deceased animal. More importantly, the nature of dilution ensures that it's really only necessary to take a single sample to produce solutions based on that indefinitely (for all intents and purposes).

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