As the presidential races continues to unfold and more and more people look for alternatives to the pro-establishment candidates, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has gained serious bonus points thanks to his support of organic farmers and his willingness to call out Monsanto.
But did you know that Sanders is also extremely friendly to the alternative health world and has advocated changes to insurance packages to allow for more holistic techniques?
Recently Time magazine ran a piece about Sanders’ affinity for alternative and natural medicine, but those who have followed his career over the years already know that he’s been a longtime friend of the natural health community.
Sanders Praises New Healthcare Additions
In the state of Vermont, Sanders and his constituents are pushing for greater protections and support for organic farmers, and the state has quickly become one of the leaders in the natural food and non-GMO movement.
This past fall in Burlington, he also praised the state for its progressive outlook on healthcare according to the Burlington Free Press.
“You go to facilities, whether it is in White River Junction or facilities around the country,” Sanders said, “and now as an essential part of their overall healthcare delivery, you have yoga. You have meditation. You have a strong emphasis on disease prevention and nutrition. You have a whole lot of therapies which 30 or 40 years ago would have been considered very, very radical.”
Sanders was on hand to introduce his personal choice for a patient-centered care initiative at the Veterans Health Administration at the University of Vermont Medical Center. His pick, Dr. Tracy Williams Gaudet, said that one of the keys to health that is often overlooked is that healthy people often have a “personal sense of purpose and joy in life” that is missing from many sick, tired and depressed people, and that a holistic approach focusing on issues like these is far preferable to merely treating the symptoms.
“Modern medicine starts with the body — that’s the way I was trained — rather than the soul, and the mind rather than the heart. The soul and the heart are the doorways to healing and health of the body and mind,” Gaudet said according to the Free Press.
Sanders’ Plans for Holistic Medicine
As noted in the Time article, Sanders would like to see more holistic practices such as acupuncture and massage worked into modern-day healthcare plans.
Since he began his time in Congress in 1991, Sanders has:
-Convened meetings of healthcare stakeholders to discuss potential changes to the system
-Supported legislation to aid alternative medicine, including sponsoring a bill 2001 that would have allowed federal employees to be reimbursed for massage or acupuncture
-Supports medicinal marijuana and introduced a bill calling for the end of federal prohibition
-Sponsored a 2013 bill that would have allowed for veterans’ health insurance to cover alternative medicine related procedures
While these changes would be welcome to most in the holistic medicine and clean food movements, some comments made by Sanders on vaccinations have raised eyebrows. According to The Daily Beast, Sanders had this to say:
“I am sensitive to the fact that there are some families who disagree but the difficulty is if I have a kid who is suffering from an illness who is subjected to a kid who walks into a room without vaccines that could kill that child and that’s wrong…”
Some feel as though this strong language could signal potential support for mandatory vaccinations, a serious issue for the millions of people who believe in freedom of choice, especially considering the damage that vaccine additives have been shown to cause (the government has paid out over $3 billion to injured parties through a special fund started in 1986).
Other Candidates on Holistic Medicine and GMOs
While Hillary Clinton and her husband Bill are personally advised by one of holistic medicine’s biggest names, Dr. Mark Hyman, it is well worth noting that Hillary is an ardent supporter of Monsanto and the Biotech industry, having hired a former Monsanto lobbyist to run her ‘Ready for Hillary’ campaign. Despite this Hillary and Bill were huge supporters of personally eating organic food during their time in the White House.
Hillary and Bill have both accepted big fees to speak on behalf of Biotech (i.e. Monsanto) interests, and the campaign has accepted huge donations from drug companies, believed to be more than any other candidate.
Yet another candidate is also a supporter of organic and locally grown foods (for himself own family, at least): Donald Trump. He has taken a few verbal jabs at Monsanto during his campaign run and also serves these foods to his family as well as some customers at his hotel chain.
His closest Republican competitor, Ted Cruz, has been mostly focused on reforming Obamacare while also lashing out at supporters of mandatory GMO labeling; very little information is out about his feelings on natural medicine.
Of course, there are far more than just two political parties to consider. Among third party candidates Jill Stein of the Green Party stands out; she once said that “75% of expenditures are for a sick care system, not healthcare.” However she also responded to a Reddit question about her party’s platform (on their support of homeopathy in this case) by saying that “much of the world of alternative medicine (is untested),” adding that “by the same token, being “tested” and “reviewed” by agencies directly tied to Big Pharma and the chemical industry is problematic as well.
Libertarian Gary Johnson has said also said that even though his party is mostly against additional government regulation in general (as shown when Rand Paul spoke out against GMO labeling), he still supports labeling, at least in the case of Colorado’s recent ballot initiative.
(For more on Third Party Candidates including some who have expressed pro-organic stances click here)
At the end of the day, while the candidates vary widely on their stances (at least in public), it’s clear that holistic and natural medicine as well as organic food, will become an increasingly bigger factor in national elections —and it’s all thanks to a grassroots movement won’t be able to ignore for much longer.