In the first half, Director of the Human Microbiome Program at NYU, Dr. Martin Blaser, discussed his hypothesis that the overuse of antibiotics, C-sections, and antiseptics has permanently changed our microbiological ecosystem and is related to an increase in modern diseases such as obesity, juvenile diabetes, and asthma. In 2010, there were 258 million courses of antibiotics prescribed in the United States-- that's five courses for every six people, he cited. And the more antibiotics used, the more resistant the bacteria becomes. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA was once rare and typically just seen in hospitals, but now the difficult-to-treat bacterial infection has become commonplace in communities, he cautioned.
While there are times when it's appropriate for doctors to prescribe antibiotics, patients have come to expect it even when their condition doesn't warrant it, Blaser continued. Doctors should be especially careful about giving antibiotics to young children, as they haven't developed the amount of healthy bacteria that adults have, he added. Contrasting the US to Sweden, he noted that the Swedish population is just as healthy as America's, but they only use 40% of the antibiotics. He also outlined how the popularity of C-sections has reduced healthy bacteria in infants as they don't have contact with the birth canal.
In the second half, author and scientist Dr. Joe Dispenza shared his research into the history, science, and practical applications of the placebo effect. He found it intriguing that you can give someone a sugar pill, a saline injection, or perform some type of sham surgery or procedure, "and a certain percentage of those patients will actually accept, believe, and surrender to the thought that they're getting better, and they begin to produce their own pharmacy of chemicals that represents the inert substance or procedure." For example, in a study of depression, 75 to 81% of the patients on a placebo got the same results as the people who had taken the actual medication, and physical changes showed up in their brain scans, he reported.
By understanding the way the placebo effect works, Dispenza explored how people can use this type of modality to transform destructive beliefs and perceptions into productive ones, as well as heal themselves of illness. Thoughts can make you sick, as well as make you well, he noted. If someone can change their personality or state of being by re-wiring the brain, and emotionally conditioning their body to a new mind (through techniques similar to meditation), then the disease or problem that existed in the old personality can be overcome or eliminated, he explained. For more, check out Dispenza's video trailer for his new book, "You are the Placebo."
News segment guest: Robert Zimmerman