The Only Presidential Candidate Who Supports Alternative Medicine


The media has given the 2016 presidential candidates’ plans for America’s health-care system a lot of attention over the past several months. Mostly, this coverage has focused on the extent that the candidates want the government to be involved in health care, and more specifically, whether each candidate would repeal, preserve, or expand the Affordable Care Act.

One health-care topic that has gotten almost no mention thus far by the presidential wannabes or the media is their stance on alternative and holistic medicine. However, a recent TIME magazine article has shed some light on this topic, revealing that Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has been personally interested in holistic medicine for more than fifty years, and during that time has actively supported bringing integrative and alternative healing treatments into the mainstream.

TIME reports that the Democratic senator, who told the magazine he had been “blessed with good endurance and health,” has shown curiosity about alternative medicine since the 1960s, when he became interested in the connection between emotional and physical health. Sanders, then in his twenties, even wrote articles for alternative newspapers about how American cultural forces contribute to illness, and how a “broken human spirit” could pave the way for cancer cells. This sentiment, though far outside of the mainstream at the time, is arguably not so out of line with recent studies that link stress to cancer.    

Sanders appears to have carried these beliefs with him when he entered Congress in 1991, where he continued to emphasize the important role alternative medicine could play in health care. He sponsored and supported bills that sought to provide greater access to holistic medicine for groups like federal employees and veterans.

According to TIME, he backed a bill soon after joining Congress that supported acupuncture and other naturopathic remedies. He also co-sponsored multiple bills relating to alternative health, including a 2001 bill that sought to allow federal employees to be reimbursed for massage therapy and acupuncture treatments, and a 2013 bill that would have increased funding for alternative medicine research, and also increased veterans’ access to alternative healing techniques.

Throughout his career, Sanders has also sponsored numerous conferences on alternative health. In 1996, for example, he sponsored an alternative health conference in Burlington, Vermont, where he said: “No one denies the important roles that surgery and drugs play in treating disease, but people are now looking at different therapies in addition.”

Sanders is probably best known in this election for his proposals to make services like education and health care more affordable for Americans. Throughout his campaign, he has repeatedly stated that Americans pay more for health insurance than any other nation, and yet both the standard of care and the access to care that Americans receive is lower than most other developed nations. In fact, medical errors are the third leading cause of death for Americans.

WhichPresidentialCandidateSupportsAlternativeMedicine_640x359One reason for this unfortunate situation is that the American medical system largely rejects gentle, noninvasive treatment options for more aggressive procedures like surgeries and prescriptions for expensive and sometimes harmful pharmaceutical drugs. Based on Sanders’ goals of reducing health-care costs and providing universal access to health care, it makes sense that he would support holistic healing techniques, which are often safer, less invasive, and less expensive than surgeries and pharmaceutical drugs.  

Whatever your opinions on other parts of Bernie Sanders’ platform, I think we can all get behind his statements about Americans’ real need for more natural and noninvasive medical options at a 2010 alternative medicine conference in Vermont:

“More and more people are not simply content to go to a doctor’s office, get a diagnosis and take a pill. They want to know what the cause of their medical problem is and how, when possible, it can be best alleviated through natural, non-invasive or non-pharmaceutical means.”

We couldn’t agree more!

Need more information on Bernie Sanders? We’ve written before about his support for GMO labeling, his goals to reduce carbon emissions, and his and the other presidential candidates’ stances on coal.

—Teresa Manring

Teresa is a freelance writer and yoga instructor currently studying in Sri Lanka. She has over 600 hours of yoga teacher training in Hatha Yoga, Vinyasa Flow, and Yoga Therapy. She believes sleep, self-love, and the breath are the keys to health and joy. 



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  1. Hillary Carney says

    Great article!! Very helpful with important issues that should be in the spotlight.

  2. edwardlewis says

    A good reason not to vote for Sanders.
    Tax payors are footing the bill now for healthcare, how about not making us pay for goofy quackery that doesn’t work.
    Pay for your chelation therapy and aroma therapy yourself.

  3. Caroline says

    finally a senator who personally has experience and understands alternative health and the benefits for the many both now and in the future. this type of person needs to be dare I say CLONED to ensure the Future of the many., With a holistic realistic health outcome covering both the emotions and physical body and of cause there is millions of dollars long term saved across the Health port folio.. Not to say that the medical fatuity are all at fault, As the More an more these days and hopefully in the future medical doctors are informed about this important subject understand it, and often consider and recommend options to there clients. EXAMPLE The Army now actively adding in Modalities of Meditation and Reiki, as part of the recovery. If one did basis research you would be delighted to see the other areas within the Health area that currently Use or recommend Alternative health otherwise known as Holistic health..

  4. Aajaxx says

    Bernie is out. Our best bet now is Gary Johnson, who at least would allow people to make more of their own health decisions (like, all their own decisions).

  5. Dee Sund says

    People like you are among the worst of the problems in health care. Chelation has prolonged the lives of so many people. Even the FDA recognizes that it’s use removes heavy metals from the body. This was what it was developed for. A friend, who is 72 years old was born with a rare condition. When he was 16, his mother was told that it would be very unlikely for him to reach age 20. He was doing fine until he had a stroke about a year ago. He was incontinent and unable to walk, until he started Chelation. He now walks, drives and leads a relatively normal life.I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma six years ago. According to the American Cancer society, no one survives five years with this cancer. With alternative treatment, I am not only alive, but doing most things I want to do. Two of my brothers were diagnosed with prostate cancer. One who uses alternative treatment was diagnosed 13 years ago. He was doing well until a year ago. His PSA went up, he had another biopsy and found cancer cells where they hadn’t been before. He had some radiation, which caused complications. He is still with us. My other brother was diagnosed a little over two years ago. He opted for mainstream treatment. He died 6 months after diagnosis. There is a long list of family and friends who went ‘mainstream’ who are all in the cemetery. You talk about quackery that doesn’t work? How many people do you know who opted for ‘mainstream’ who didn’t survive? My husband had Cardiac bypass. His heart was functioning at 30% before the surgery and at 17% after, by tests from an echocardiograph. He became an invalid, from a man who had worked everyday. After awhile, he was so short of oxygen that he starved to death. His brain didn’t get enough oxygen to tell him that he was hungry.

  6. Barbara Davis says

    Wow…you actually supported Sanders? Or am I interpreting this incorrectly? Although I agree with the alternative medicine option. We should be able to choose whatever we want (in an educated manner, of course) in order to maintain our health. As long as it’s organic and non-GMO, not man-made “healthy” poisons.

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