Archive for the ‘Psychological Aspects’ Category

Research Consortium Aims to Develop New Drug For Bartonellosis

Research consortium aims to develop new drug for bartonellosis

July 15, 2021

Key infectious disease researchers at Tulane University, Duke University and North Carolina State University will collaborate on an initiative to develop a treatment for bartonelloses, a spectrum of vector-borne diseases that can cause debilitating symptoms.

The three-year, $4.8 million initiative funded by The Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation, will establish the Bartonella Research Consortium to develop a novel treatment for bartonelloses.

Bartonella are zoonotic, stealth bacterial pathogens that were not known to infect animals or humans prior to the HIV epidemic when immunocompromised patients began showing symptoms of bartonelloses.

Bartonelloses are often self-limiting diseases that can be cleared by the immune systems of healthy individuals. In immunocompromised individuals or as co-infections, they can cause severe neuropsychiatric, cardiovascular, and rheumatological symptoms. Cats and fleas often harbor the pathogen, which increases the likelihood of transmission to humans.

The principal investigators of the consortium support a collaborative approach to the study of complex, poorly understood infectious diseases. By working together to prevent and treat Bartonella infections, they will provide patient-relevant solutions that improve both animal and human health. Targeted antimicrobial strategies to eliminate long-standing Bartonella infections will dramatically improve patient outcomes.

Similarities between Bartonella and Lyme infections

Bartonella symptoms overlap with those of other vector borne organisms such as Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. In some instances, patients have been infected with both Bartonella and Borrelia burgdorferi infections, which can cause an exacerbation of symptoms

As often seen in Lyme disease patients, a subset of people with bartonelloses develop chronic symptoms despite prior antibiotic therapy. Treatment failures have been documented with both infections, thus the need for drugs that specifically target and eliminate these bacteria.

Associate Professor Monica Embers, a microbiologist and immunologist at the Tulane National Primate Research Center, focuses on the persistence of tick-borne infectious disease despite antibiotic therapy and will bring her expertise to the consortium.

“There are a lot of similarities between Bartonella and Borrelia infections, both of which are notoriously difficult to detect and treat. Developing targeted treatments has the potential to alleviate a lot of suffering, both in the human and pet populations,” said Embers.

There are over 40 known Bartonella species or subspecies and at least 17 have been associated with a spectrum of disease symptoms. Although Bartonella remain neglected in human and veterinary medicine, more recent evidence supports an important role for these bacteria in a variety of diseases.

Funding for this research initiative combines the strengths of research laboratories located at Duke University, North Carolina State University and Tulane University.

Principal investigators include Drs. Edward B. Breitschwerdt, Monica E. Embers, Timothy A Haystead and Ricardo G. Maggi. During the next three and a half years, these established investigators and their highly skilled research teams will develop a novel drug for the treatment of bartonelloses.



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Pediatric Bipolar Disorders & Tick-borne Illnesses

Pediatric bipolar disorders and tick-borne illnesses

July 23, 2021

By Rosalie Greenberg, MD

Pediatric Bipolar Disorder (PBD) refers to a child or adolescent experiencing a distinct period of time in which he or she has changes in mood, energy, thought and behavior that can have a significant effect on the youngster’s ability to function.

This diagnosis, like most, is on a spectrum. A young person can have manic episodes with or without depressive episodes. This is called Bipolar I. Or, the child can have episodes of depression with only mild hypomanic episodes (not as severe as mania and which don’t require psychiatric hospitalization.) This is called Bipolar II.

Other Specified or Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorder are two other categories that are used when the full criteria for the diagnosis are not met. In the past, this was called Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (NOS).

Making a diagnosis

The symptoms required to make the diagnosis of a manic episode are the following: a clear period of abnormally elevated or irritable mood and heightened energy or activity lasting at least a week (or less if hospitalized) accompanied by three or more of the symptoms below (four if only irritable):

  • Decreased need for sleep
  • increased self-esteem or grandiosity
  • More talkative or pressured speech
  • Flight of ideas (loosely connected thoughts) or feeling like one has racing thoughts
  • Distractability
  • Increase in goal-directed activity or overall heightened psychomotor agitation
  • Increased impulsivity that can cause excessive involvement in activities that have a high potential for painful consequences

In the majority of cases, the cause of bipolar disorder is uncertain. But it is probably a mixture of genetics, the environment (including exposure to certain infections) and immune system dysfunction.

A few infectious agents have been accepted as being directly associated with bipolar disorder symptoms. Two of these are:

  1. the parasite Toxoplasmosis Gondii which causes toxoplasmosis
  2. the spirochetal (corkscrew shaped) bacteria, Treponema Pallidum which causes syphilis

Of note, both syphilis and Lyme disease (caused by Borrelia burgdorferi), are caused by a spirochete-shaped bacteria and they share a variety of other commonalities.

The Borrelia bacteria has more DNA and is much more complex in composition and function. Individuals who experience late stage, or tertiary, syphilis can exhibit manic-like behavior, which also can be seen at times in those with neurologic Lyme disease.


For a while, I was looking at new patients for any evidence of Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections (PANDAS) or Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS).

The former refers to a group of psychiatric symptoms precipitated by a Group A Beta Hemolytic Streptococcal infection. In the latter, the cause remains unspecified and might include factors such as infections, trauma and environmental toxins.

Because of the similarities I observed between PANDAS/PANS  and PBD, I started to check some of my PBD patients for evidence of infection.

One such patient was P, an 11-year-old, who came to see me following four psychiatric hospitalizations over the course of one year, because of difficulty with mood shifts, oppositional behavior and verbal and physical aggressive outbursts.

He was diagnosed as having PBD, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – combined type and oppositional defiant disorder. His difficulties had only mildly improved despite multiple psychiatric medication trials.

I first saw him after his last hospitalization.  At that point, he was no longer acutely dangerous to himself or others but had limited self-control and awareness.

I learned that his family history was strongly positive for bipolar disorder in at least three generations. Alcoholism was present in both maternal and paternal relatives. Furthermore, there were a variety of autoimmune disorders in relatives on both sides of the family tree.

After eight months of medication treatment under my care as an outpatient, he suddenly once again became highly agitated, argumentative and threatening. It was clear that he could not continue to live at home unless his behavior drastically changed

High strep titers

Despite the fact he had been healthy, with no known medical history of a Streptococcal infection (the bacteria responsible for causing strep throat), I decided to check him for evidence of infection causing PANDAS or PANS. To my surprise, his strep titers were quite high and he was subsequently diagnosed with PANDAS.

A few months of treatment with antibiotics eventually resulted in a dramatic change. His mood was happier and more even, he was much less oppositional, more affectionate and he even became a more diligent student.

He was on a low dose antibiotic prophylactically to protect against recurrent streptococcal infection. This protective approach is similar to what occurs in those with rheumatic heart disease.

Over time, P’s negative behavior would return and escalate on occasion if he was exposed to someone who was sick. But his symptoms usually responded quickly with anti-inflammatory treatment or, if needed, a change in antibiotic.


When P was in the 8th grade, he had a severe angry depressive episode. By this time, I had become familiar with tick-borne disorders and their potential neuropsychiatric effects. On testing, he was positive for the bacteria Bartonella henselae.

Once again, proper antibiotic treatment resulted in a significant lessening of his psychiatric symptoms. It is important to note that he also needed an antipsychotic and anticonvulsant for mood maintenance whether or not he was taking antibiotics.

Given the observation that P’s mood and behavior dramatically changed once his infections were identified and properly treated, I decided to screen many of my new patients for evidence of infection.

To my surprise, I found evidence of infections in the majority of those newer patients who underwent blood testing during psychiatric evaluation.

I am known as being an expert in pediatric bipolar disorder, having written Bipolar Kids: Helping Your Child Find Calm in the Mood Storm, as well as having lectured to the public and professionals and written a variety of articles for both groups.

It’s important to keep in mind that my practice is somewhat atypical in that it experiences what is called “a referral bias,” with many parents coming to see me to determine whether or not their child really has bipolar disorder.

Once I kept finding evidence of infections, and often positive mood or behavioral changes when the newly discovered illnesses were addressed, I decided that it was important that I go back and check for infections in my bipolar patients with whom I had worked for years.

Again, I was surprised to find that many of these kids also tested positive for evidence of infection, especially tick-borne illnesses (TBIs).

Tick-borne illnesses

Ten years ago, I learned that New Jersey, where my practice is located, is a Lyme-endemic state. But how was it possible that so many of my patients tested positive? Maybe the testing was wrong? I even submitted samples of my own blood to two of the specialty laboratories (Igenex and Galaxy Diagnostics) to check the accuracy of the testing and found the results quite credible for a variety of reasons.

I also noted that as I kept learning more and more about Lyme and the other TBIs at different specialized meetings, I often heard presentations of adult patients who were diagnosed with bipolar disorder and later found to be suffering from some form of tick-borne illness. This sounded just like “my kids.”

With this experience as my background, I decided to do a retrospective chart review to determine the rate of evidence of tick-borne infection exposure in 27 consecutively seen bipolar youth whom I treated between February 2013 and July 2015.

Of the 27, 81% (22/27) were males and 19% (5/27) were females with an average age of 7.3 years. Fifteen of the kids were diagnosed as having Bipolar I (had manic episodes) and 12 had Bipolar II (episodes of depression with periods of hypomania).

Using a variety of different laboratories, blood testing was done to check for evidence of exposure to Group A Beta Hemolytic Streptococcal bacteria, and other infectious agents including Mycoplasma pneumoniae (which can cause walking pneumonia), Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease), BabesiaBartonellaAnaplasma and Ehrlichia.

24 out of 27 bipolar children had TBIs

In the end, 89% (24/27) showed evidence of exposure to one or more of these pathogens (infectious agents). The frequency of the positive testing results in the 27 bipolar child patients were as follows:

  • Babesia =16
  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae = 11
  • Bartonella = 8
  • Lyme = 6
  • Anaplasma + Ehrlichia = 1

All individuals who had a positive test were recommended to see a doctor familiar with TBIs to determine if the patient should receive the clinical diagnosis and get appropriate treatment.

Twenty-two of the 24 agreed to this assessment. All of those children who followed the recommendation and sought consultation were found by the evaluating physician to meet the clinical criteria for the diagnosis of having TBIs.

In the end, 20/27 or 74% of those with PBD were positive for TBIs by both laboratory testing and clinician assessment. Four of the 27 (23.5%) patients tested were positive for PANDAS. Another important observation is that only three of the 27 with PBD had a known tick bite.

The results are clearly quite provocative. It’s important to keep in mind that the association found between TBIs and PBD does not mean there is a causal relationship. Interestingly, for some children, treatment of their TBIs resulted in variable degrees of improvement of their psychiatric symptoms.

The case of P, presented earlier, is a clear example of how treating the infection improved the child’s mental health. Studies are needed before making a definitive statement regarding the neuropsychological effects of treating underlying infections. It would be wrong to generalize the results from a small, specialized psychiatric practice without more evidential support from other pediatric populations.

“Bipolar-like” symptoms

I also noted that some of the kids in my practice exhibited what I call “bipolar-like” symptoms. They clearly do not fit the full criteria for a bipolar mood disorder. Yet, they exhibit definite elements consistent with a significant amount of mood unsteadiness, especially depression, as well as exhibit similar co-morbidity to youth with PBD.

The potentially accompanying psychiatric illnesses include anxiety disorders (e.g. obsessive-compulsive disorder [OCD] and separation anxiety), ADHD and behavioral disturbances with intense temper outbursts.

I can’t help but wonder how many of these children have been given the diagnosis of Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD) by other psychiatrists.

This particular diagnosis was created as a way to help identify children who did not show clear mania or hypomania but who struggle with long standing temper dysregulation, sadness and irritability. Could many of them be in this “bipolar-like “ group? Again, the answer requires more study.

The natural question from these findings for both parents and professionals is: Does treating the TBIs make any difference in how these kids actually end up functioning in real life?


Without more research, I can only comment about what I have observed in my practice with these children. There appears to be three groups:

  1. Kids who are treated for their bipolar symptoms as well as TBIs who at some point are able to do well once the infections are resolved or at least controlled. Their psychiatric symptoms appear to have been eliminated or significantly lessened enough that over time they can stop all psychiatric medication. This group is fairly small but definitely exists.
  2. Kids who are treated for BPD and TBIs but require less psychiatric medication (yet still need some) when their infections are under better control. One clue that the psychiatric medication can be lowered is the occurrence of side effects from the psychiatric medication (e.g. new onset of lethargy and sleepiness) that were previously not present while the child appeared to benefit from that dose of medication in the past.
  3. Kids who are treated for BPD and TBIs but still require significant doses of psychiatric medications as their infections come under better control.

Therefore treating the underlying psychiatric illness has the potential to change the long-term outcome in some youngsters who manifest bipolar disorder symptoms and were exposed to tick-borne illnesses.

The true prevalence of TBIs in youth who reside in the geographical area where my practice is located is unknown. This data is crucial to be able to interpret properly what I’ve found in my patients.

To what extent do infectious agents and autoimmune processes contribute to the present escalation in child and adolescent mental disorders? The mounting evidence supporting the connections of infections, autoimmune processes and mental disorders appears significant and demand more scientific investigation.

Dr. Rosalie Greenberg is a Board-Certified Adult, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, known for her expertise in the diagnosis and management of complex psychiatric problems in children, and pediatric psychopharmacology. For the past few years, she has focused on the psychiatric manifestations of infectious diseases, especially, tick-borne illnesses in children and adolescents. Her website is


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Lyme Brain & Fibro Fog: Natural Solutions Webinar


Lyme Brain & Fibro Fog

Live Webinar with Dr. Bill Rawls

Wednesday, July 21st
8pm EDT

Webinar can be viewed on any device

The physical symptoms of chronic Lyme disease and fibromyalgia are challenging on their own. But when your mental capacities start to waver, it can take levels of frustration and fear to a whole new level.

Why are Lyme and fibromyalgia sufferers so prone to brain and neurological symptoms, and what can you do to find effective and lasting relief?

Join an updated live webinar with Dr. Bill Rawls, author of the best-selling book Unlocking Lyme, who knows firsthand what it’s like to live with Lyme brain and fibro fog. He’ll explain why Lyme disease and fibromyalgia tend to target the brain, and share insights on the best herbs and other natural lifestyle remedies for overcoming symptoms and reducing the risk and severity of long-term degenerative cognitive conditions such as dementia.

You’ll learn exactly what you need to clear the fog and restore healthy cognitive and neurological function, so that you can get back to thinking and feeling like yourself again.


In this webinar, Dr. Rawls will also discuss:

• Why cognitive symptoms like confusion, short-term memory loss, anxiety, anger, and depression are so common in chronic illness patients such as those with Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, and Long COVID.

• How microbes, inflammation, and immune dysfunction disrupt cognitive function

• The best herbs and natural remedies for restoring and protecting brain health

• Numerous insights during the live Q&A with Dr. Rawls

About Dr. Bill Rawls

Bill Rawls, M.D., is a physician and leading expert in Lyme disease, integrative health, and herbal medicine. In the middle of his successful medical career, Dr. Rawls’ life was interrupted by Lyme disease. In his journey to overcome it, he explored nearly every treatment possible – from conventional medicine to a range of alternative therapies. In the more than 12 years since his recovery, Dr. Rawls has helped thousands of patients find their path to healing from Lyme disease and chronic illness. He is the author of the best-selling book Unlocking Lyme, and the Medical Director of and Vital Plan, an online holistic health company and Certified B Corporation®.


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Lyme Disease, Autoimmune Encephalopathy, & Basal Ganglia Encephalitis

http://  Approx. 1 hour, 15 Min.

Nov. 23, 2020

The Links between Lyme Disease and Autoimmune Encephalopathy and Basal Ganglia Encephalitis (BGE) – Presentation and Q&A Part of the PANS/PANDAS webinar series
Professor Craig Shimasaki,
CEO of Moleculera Labs,
Oklahoma USA Presentation

“Healing Can’t Happen in a Bubble of Fear”

Amy Scher: “Healing can’t happen in a bubble of fear”

By Amy B. Scher

In order to fully heal, you are going to have to let go and lighten up (mostly on yourself).

That’s what I tell people when they are trying to micro-manage every itty bit of themselves and their protocols in order to heal. It may seem like an easy suggestion to follow after all they’ve been through. However it was personally one of the most difficult parts of healing for me to embrace.

I lived in a bubble of fear, worried that everything I did or didn’t do would make or break my healing. But  eventually, it became clear to me that healing will not (and cannot) happen in a bubble of fear. Fear is contradictory to the environment that is needed for wellbeing.

While much went into my ultimate recovery from Lyme, the act of lightening up and letting go had one of the most profound impacts on my journey.

When we suppress ourselves, we can end up feeling anxious, depressed, and sick. If healing is all about getting free to experience a full life again, we must also pay attention to freeing ourselves from the patterns and behaviors that no longer serve us.

Lightening up does not always come easy, but it’s so worth it, and it does come if we let it.

The tyranny of perfectionism

My parents raised me with all the love and silliness you’d expect from the hippies that they were. They always praised me as smart, sweet, artistic, and kind.

But instead of taking these compliments as truth, the part of me that analyzed and internalized everything contorted them into a rule: I must be perfect.

With no one else requiring this of me, I took perfection on as my calling, my purpose. As I grew older, the pressure of this piled on me like a thousand pounds. I strived to be the one who made everyone happy and was celebrated for great things, but I also longed to be one whose faults went unnoticed.

When I strayed from the person I thought I should be—by not getting perfect grades, not being the perfect friend, or making a mistake—my insides would clench. I spent a lot of time rehearsing in my head what things I could have done differently, better. Even though my parents didn’t seem  bothered by any of my imperfections, I worried I might somehow be less of a shining star to them.

By the time I’d been suffering with chronic illness and my body had been falling apart for a good long while, I had assigned much of the blame to myself. Somehow, I must have not done this life thing good enough, perfect enough. Now, perfection was something I owed to the people around me as an apology for being the glaring burden I felt myself to be. I tried hard to convince myself I deserved mercy in this new small life, yet still, even on my near-deathbed, I felt I wasn’t doing sick perfect enough.

The truth is this: I was unloved by myself long before my physical body went astray. And it had become painfully obvious that this pattern was crushing my being and assaulting my immune system. At some point, I decided that if I didn’t lighten the f**k up, this pattern of perfection was going to kill me. I sensed that maybe it had already started to in some way.

The self-criticism trap

You cannot bully yourself into doing enough good or being good enough to feel good—and good enough to be loved, especially by yourself. That’s just not how it works.

Thanks to Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, we now have scientific data that shows us how and why self-criticism isn’t healthy. (Although we probably didn’t need scientific proof on this one). Self-criticism “makes us weaker in the face of failure, more emotional, and less likely to assimilate lessons from our failures.”

In fact, in a 2012 study published in the US National Library of Medicine, a link between self-compassion and negative states such as depression and anxiety was apparent across 20 studies. Because self-compassion is associated with lower levels of self- criticism, and self-criticism is known to be an important predictor of anxiety and depression, this is where we’re going to start our work.

Even outside of these examples, there has been much information that’s emerged over the years on how positive emotions, including love and acceptance, have a direct impact on your physiology, particularly your nervous system. If you beat yourself up all the time about what you are or aren’t doing, it makes sense that your system would read that self-criticism as danger and stress and react to it in just that way.

The practice of self-compassion is learning to lighten up on yourself just as you would with someone close to you who you loved and cared for. You’ve probably been criticizing yourself for a long time. If this hasn’t worked yet, it’s probably time to try something new

Release attachment to symptoms

During my experience with illness, I spent a lot of time obsessing over every new sensation in my body. I was in a state of constant overdrive, trying to figure out what each symptom was from or how to make it go away. I always alerted my doctors, who also seemed perplexed by what they meant, which of course made me feel even more worried.

Ultimately, I started to approach my body and its symptoms as not warning signs of something severe (as long as my doctor had already been notified), but as just something my body was doing that may not have a clear-cut explanation. I learned how, sometimes, to just let my symptoms be, releasing the massive amounts of energy I spent consumed by trying to solve them.

This is what I learned: sometimes they mean nothing.

We spend so much time analyzing our symptoms, guessing what they could mean, and obsessing over when they’ll go. And sometimes, we need to do that. But other times, we need a break. The truth is that despite all of our incessant “figuring out,” sometimes we just won’t know what our body is doing. We also won’t always know what healing might be taking place despite the raging symptoms. I had my worst month of symptoms came just before I turned a corner toward healing.

Give yourself permission to live a little

I spent most of my life in California, where I ate organic food, held my breath when I walked by a smoker, and focused on controlling my environment to control my health. After I was diagnosed with chronic Lyme, I became even more attuned to my lifestyle and surroundings—afraid that every misstep would kill me.

The turning point for me happened when I was in India in 2007, where I had traveled for stem cell treatment. That was my first hint that I needed to learn to let go. I had to. No choice. No time to get used to an entirely different world and medical system.

At the request of one of the nurses, I had given the staff at the hospital a list of foods I could and could not eat. On the could list: protein and veggies. On the could not list: everything else. Over the years, my brain had been programmed with messages like dairy is bad because it causes inflammationsugar feeds the Lyme bacteria, and carbs are evil. And while maybe some of that has truth to it, being ridiculously strict about my diet only caused me more intense stress.

When the doctor saw the list, she came to my room with it and asked, “But what about your healthy cells? They need some sugar. Dairy is not bad for them. Carbs are okay in moderation! Each night, you can have a small amount of red wine and chocolate. You need some pleasure too.” All I could think was, Are you trying to kill me?

An epiphany

It wasn’t until I was squatting on a mud-smudged grocery store floor that what she said began to sink in. My whole existence for years had been dedicated to “killing” Lyme. I had built my entire life around Lyme disease, the one thing that I didn’t want. What about the rest of me?

“Mom! Look!” I had found a packaged chocolate lava cake, the kind where you add hot water to the plastic tray full of batter and it magically puffs up into dessert. It was inflatable chocolate cake, and it was a miracle in a country that was hard for me to find food I enjoyed.

This is when I had an epiphany that informed the rest of my healing journey:

What if, in my furious effort to find the cure, I had been missing something critically important all along? What if I loosened the death grip I had on my own life? What if healing is beyond what you eat and how perfectly you take your supplements? What if enjoying life and lightening up didn’t look like healing, but was a tiny step toward it?

Chocolate cake, just like the other lessons I learned, would become part of my protocol; one that brought me joy and helped to teach me that the healing journey doesn’t always look like perfection. Sometimes it looks like lightening and loosening up.

Amy B. Scher, an energy therapist, has written several books on healing, including: This Is How I Save My Life: Searching the World for a Cure – A Lyme Disease Memoir (When doctors have all but given up, when a diagnosis eludes you, and when every test result raises more questions than answers, how do you save yourself?); How To Heal Yourself From Depression When No One Else Can (Scher’s accessible approach to helping anyone struggling with depression to reclaim a joyful life). How To Heal Yourself From Anxiety When No One Else Can (A unique, go-at-your-own-pace book, full of hands-on techniques and guidance that illustrate one profound truth: healing from anxiety is possible). She can be found online at



Some great advice in here.  I couldn’t help considering the COVID debacle that’s been thrust upon us.  The same advice about being unable to heal while in a ‘bubble of fear’ is also true for a virus.  Fear is an emotion that will zap your strength and lower your immune system by putting you in hyper-drive, yet this is precisely what our corrupt public health ‘authorities’ have foisted upon an unsuspecting public.

Firstly, accepting death is #1 on the list toward living fully while on planet earth.  Secondly, (despite the denial by public health authorities and a complicit main stream media) there are effective treatments for both COVID and Lyme/MSIDS.  Obtaining good medical help is crucial, and in my experience Lyme literate doctors (LLMD’s) are probably your best bet for both illnesses as they are open-minded, up to date on the science, and willing to go outside the box.  When I felt like I was on death’s door from COVID, my LLMD utilized his knowledge once again and squared me away.  I write about the treatment that worked here. Within 1-2 doses I felt like a new person – demonstrating the importance of effective treatment.

These attributes are what make a good doctor, yet for both diseases we are clearly seeing the monopolization of medicine where doctors not following the narrative are censored, bullied, maligned, and persecuted.

It’s an old, old tactic that continues to be deployed.