March 11, 2019
Medicare For All Meets Anti-Vaxxers And IBS
By Michael D. Shaw
Here we are, less than two weeks from the first day of Spring. For most of us in the US and Canada, Daylight Saving Time has begun, and will continue through 2:00 AM on November 3rd. For many of us who experience cold winters, the warming trend has yet to arrive, and for some, the discipline of Lent is upon us.
The time and mood seem right for a few shorter ruminations on some current topics…
Yet More On Medicare For All
Last week’s article was a critique of the House bill, introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA). As reported by Kimberly Leonard of the Washington Examiner, the original bill from 2017 had 124 sponsors, but even with the Democrats gaining 40 seats in this Congress, the number of sponsors has fallen to 107. Notable absences include Rep. Jim Clyburn, (D-SC), the House Majority Whip; Rep. Anna Eshoo, (D-CA), chairwoman of the Energy and Commerce’s Health Subcommittee; and Rep. John Yarmuth, (D-KY), chairman of the House Budget Committee.
Supposedly, this is because the leadership wants to focus instead on fixing Obamacare. My take is that the bad publicity regarding the outrageous cost of Medicare For All has a lot more to do with it. And, this coming at the same time as the even more ridiculous Green New Deal didn’t help either.
How depressing that common sense solutions, such as the one proposed by my friend Steve Schuster receive such short shrift.
The Anti-Vaxxer Problem
The modern anti-vaccination movement was jump-started by the results published–infamously–in The Lancet in 1998, that were not fully retracted until 2010. Of course, this retraction didn’t change too many minds among the ranks of the anti-vaxxers.
According to Peter Jay Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and the director of the Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development:
“The anti-vaccine lobby has grown from a fringe movement in the late ’90s, early 2000s to this massive media empire that has now hundreds of websites, amplified on social media. They have political action committees now, it’s become politicized. This was never a problem up until a few years ago, but now it’s become this huge issue.”
Remember 2000, when measles was eliminated in the US? Alas, those days are gone. At least 70 cases have been reported in Washington state, with 90 confirmed cases in Brooklyn, NY. There are cases in several other states, as well.
Incidents in California have prompted calls for action. One of these was from California state senator Dr. Richard Pan, in conjunction with Vaccinate California. Leah Rossin, executive director of this organization said, “This frightening outbreak of measles highlights the need for tighter controls on medical exemptions. Predatory doctors should not be allowed to monetize parental unfounded fears–instead they must do the hard work to educate parents about the real risks. Children and communities deserve the protection modern medicine offers.”
Treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome With Hypnotherapy
Those who suffer from IBS have a distinctive signature of gut bacteria. While stress does not specifically cause IBS, it can trigger or worsen the condition. Which brings us to some interesting work being done at the Medical University of Vienna.
According to internist and psychotherapist Gabriele Moser (Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology), “A comparison of completed stress questionnaires with associated stool samples showed a correlation between the incidence of specific gut bacteria and psychological distress such as stress, depression and/or anxiety. This validates the importance of the so-called gut-brain axis, the relationship between the gut microbiome and the mind.”
Their results suggest that up to 70% of patients treated respond positively to psychosomatic, holistic treatment of IBS using hypnotherapy. Notably, this is much better than purely symptomatic or probiotic nutritional therapies. Moser states that “The influence of the gut microbiome on the mind and nervous system is an exciting field of research. People with severe IBS are often suffering from trauma or are under enormous stress and require integrated psychosomatic treatment.”