‘Outrageous claims’: Canadian homeopaths say diluted vaccines can ‘recover’ kids from autism

‘Outrageous claims’: Canadian homeopaths say diluted vaccines can ‘recover’ kids from autism
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Some homeopaths in Canada are claiming they can “recover” children from autism using massively diluted doses of the very vaccines they blame for autism in the first place.

The “detoxification” therapy known as CEASE — Complete Elimination of Autistic Spectrum Expression — is based on the widely debunked theory that most causes of autism are due to childhood vaccines.

“The homeopathic method as applied in the treatment of vaccination damage consists of administering four successive remedies of the suspected vaccine,” states the CEASE website , which lists dozens of Canadian homeopaths and naturopaths among its registered practitioners. The list includes Victoria, B.C.’s Anke Zimmermann, who, in a now-deleted blog post, reported treating a preschooler with behavioural problems with a homeopathic remedy made from the saliva of a rabid dog.

When contacted for this story, Zimmerman declined to comment. “The (National Post) has a long history of publishing biased and inflammatory articles on naturopathy and especially homeopathy, including calling us witch doctors,” she said in an email.

According to the CEASE doctrine, all autistic children should be detoxified using the “homeopathically diluted remedies” of the vaccines that have been administered to the child, and that “autistic children should never again be vaccinated!”

The site further advises parents of autistic children to avoid the use of microwaves, “poisonous” sugars and sweeteners as well as plastic containers and packages. Children should also be “well grounded to the earth” to avoid static electricity, which “may give rise to both emotional/mental disorders and physical complaints.” No insulating (rubber or plastic sole) shoes or synthetic floor coverings, the site advises. “If possible, have your child walk around barefoot.”

There is now overwhelming evidence that vaccines don’t cause autism, both from animal studies and from human epidemiologic studies

More alarmingly, parents are told to avoid antibiotics to avoid harming gut flora and worsening the “underlying problems.” Parents are advised that, in the case of infection, “opt for naturopathic solutions” instead.

A leading researcher in autism said families of autistic children are being shamelessly misled.

“Will the National Post print the word ‘bullshit’?” said Dr. Peter Szatmari, chief of the Child and Youth Mental Health Collaborative between the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, the Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto.

“There is now overwhelming evidence that vaccines don’t cause autism, both from animal studies and from human epidemiologic studies,” he said.

A family physician prepares a measles vaccine during a consultation on April 16, 2018 in the Romanian capital, Bucharest. DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images

A small British study published in the Lancet in 1998 by Dr. Andrew Wakefield linking the MMR vaccine with autism has since been discredited as fraudulent, the paper retracted and Wakefield stripped of his licence to practice. Several large observational studies have since found no differences in the rate of autism between vaccinated and unvaccinated children.

“It’s time to put that one behind us and recognize that not immunizing your child with vaccines places not only them at risk, but other children in the community at risk of serious infection, brain damage and death,” Szatmari said. 

As far as he’s aware, Szatmari said there is no published empirical evidence to support the CEASE protocol. On the other hand, “There are evidence-based treatments for autism that are effective,” he said, notably ABA (applied behavioural analysis).“We’re showing remarkable improvements with ABA these days.”

“It’s really important for parents to put their resources and energy into treatments that work, rather than some kind of junk science and outrageous claims,” Szatmari said. 

Avoiding needed antibiotics also places children at risk of serious harm, he added. “That would be a tragedy.”

Tinus Smits, a Dutch homeopath who died in 2010, developed CEASE. Smits claimed to have treated more than 300 children with autism before his death. He blamed vaccines for 70 per cent of all causes of autism, the rest on medications and other “toxic” substances such as food additives and pollution.

It’s really important for parents to put their resources and energy into treatments that work, rather than some kind of junk science and outrageous claims

Homeopathy is based on the philosophy “like cures like,” the theory that a substance that causes symptoms in a healthy person will cure those symptoms in a sick person. To make a remedy, an “active” agent is placed in water and ultra-diluted; the more diluted, the higher its potency, the theory holds. The massively diluted water can then be dropped onto sugar pellets.

With CEASE, children are “detoxified” using isotherapy — that is, “diluted and potentized substances that were administered prior to the onset of autism.” Supplements such as fish oil, zinc and vitamin C are also used.

Lynn Comeau offered CEASE therapy for seven years before she stopped practising as a registered homeopath in Ontario earlier this month to go into nursing.

The effects, she said, were “amazing. Things from (children) being non-verbal to becoming verbal.”

In a YouTube video posted on the CEASE website, Mississauga, Ont. homeopath Domenic Stanghini, who is listed as in good standing with the College of Homeopaths of Ontario, said CEASE therapy is having “a positive impact on ASD (autism spectrum disorders) children.”

“Homeopathy has this uncanny ability to retrace a person’s past experience and remove blockages,” Stanghini said on the video. He outlines Smits’ theory, saying that autism spectrum disorders are “nearly always” the result of a build up of toxins in the body, from medications, vaccinations, chemicals — “anything the body cannot process effectively.

“So the brain is not permanently damaged. It’s temporarily blocked,” Stanghini said on the video. “In most cases of ASD (autism spectrum disorders) the child can be recovered” using CEASE.

When reached by the Post, Stanghini declined to comment, saying, “I’m going to hang up now. Thanks for calling. Have a nice day.”

The CEASE website, like many others, does not reflect the views or standards of the College

According to the Ontario College of Homeopaths, “a registrant shall not advise his or her patient against vaccination.”

“The CEASE website, like many others, does not reflect the views or standards of the College,” registrar and CEO Basil Ziv said in an email to the Post.

Whether a homeopath can treat patients with serious conditions like autism depends on his or her knowledge, skills, experience and personal scope of practice, Ziv said.

However, like vaccination, “the prescribing of antibiotics is outside the scope of practice of homeopathy,” he said. “Homeopaths whose patients seek advice about their use should be provided with information and referred to other health-care providers as appropriate.”

“As the health-care landscape continues to change in both need and possibilities for cure, the challenge will be ensuring that new solutions meet existing standards or that standards evolve accordingly,” Ziv said.

“Public protection — the mandate of all regulatory colleges — is an important principle and one that must continue to be upheld as new methods emerge.”

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