Can Young Blood Reverse Aging?

By Jeannie Hall, Contributing Writer

The notion that “young blood” contains substances that might rejuvenate older adults has been around for centuries. Current research indicates that there may be something to this idea after all.

Acupuncture: From NICU to Battlefield and Beyond

By Rachael Adams, Contributing Writer

Three recent articles highlight the successful use of acupuncture in very unique areas of practice: neonatal intensive care, management of cardiovascular risk, and reduction of PTSD in military veterans. 

Fed Budget Bill: Two Wins, One Loss for Food Labeling

By Erik Goldman

The $1.1 trillion Federal spending bill passed by Congress this week includes a two minor wins for advocates of GMO labeling, but a significant loss for anyone concerned about food safety standards and the environmental costs of food transport.

First, the good news: Congress jettisoned a provision that would have prohibited state legislatures from passing or implementing their own GMO labeling laws, in favor of creating a single national review board to assess the safety of genetically-modified ingredients. The bill was officially called the "Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act," but GMO critics refer to it as the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) act.

The new budget bill also mandates that the Food and Drug Administration issue final guidelines for the labeling of the genetically-modified salmon species that the agency approved for market in November. The bill allocates a whopping $150,000 to fund the labeling guideline project and to implement a consumer disclosure program. (UpShots sincerely trusts that the commissioners will use discretion and not blow that $150K on wild Alaskan salmon caviar at their planning luncheons).

Big Food manufacturers and retailers have voiced disappointment over the non-passage of the "Safe" act. By leaving the field open to individual state initiatives, Congress is fostering "a patchwork of costly and misleading state labeling mandates," says Pamela Bailey, president of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, a massive food industry lobbying group that has been strongly opposed to GMO labeling.

On the near horizon is the implementation in January of the State of Vermont's GMO labeling mandate, which was approved by the Green Mountain state's legislature in 2014. Bailey has indicated that her constituents are less-than-happy about having to comply.

But they can console themselves by knowing that the budget bill nixed a requirement that all imported meat products be labeled with country-of-origin information. That's a big loss on the transparency front, because it means that companies and retailers will not be required to disclose where the meat was grown, harvested or processed. Lawmakers say they took that decision in order to avoid punitive tarriffs from other countries (ie China) that opposed country-of-origin labeling.

It's a pretty safe bet that the omnibus budget bill is packed with pork. But, alas, we will not be able to know where it came from.



Vaccine Critics Get Shot in the Arm from NYC Court

By Erik Goldman, Editor in Chief

A Manhattan Supreme Court judge has ruled that New York City's health department does not have the legal authority to add flu vaccines to the list of mandatory shots required for young children to enter city-licensed preschools and day care centers.

According to Justice Manuel Mendez, any changes to the roster of the city's required shots--which currently includes polio, mumps, measles, rubella, varicella, Haemophilus influenza B, pertussis, tetanus, pneumococcal diseases, meningitis, and hepatitis B--must be mandated by the New York State legislature, not the city's board of health.

The flu vaccine mandate was a parting shot from the administration of former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and was set to take effect on January 1, 2016. But the legality of the requirement was challenged by a lawsuit filed by parents concerned about the potential risks. Also at issue in the case is the fact that the city's health board is appointed, not elected, and therefore may not represent the views of the city's citizens. 

In his ruling, Judge Mendez stuck closely to the matter of the Board of Health's legal authority to change vaccine policy; he assiduously avoided issues related to the merits or risks of the flu vaccine, the legality of vaccine mandates in general, or any of the other contentious issues about vaccines.

Essentially, Mendez' decision merely bounces the matter upstairs to the state legislature in Albany.

Still, vaccine opponents are hailing it as a significant victory for parental freedom of choice. City health commissioner, Dr. Mary Bassett, is disappointed. She holds that the mandate could have prevented many cases of childhood as well as adult flu, and potentially saved lives.




Rademenes: A Cat Healer Finds His Calling

By Erik Goldman

Rademenes barely made it past his second month of life.

The small black kitten was on the verge of death in the street in the small town of Bydgoszcz, Poland,  when a kind stranger found him and took him to an animal shelter. The vets there were considering euthanasia, but something stayed their hands.

CatCompassionThe kitten recovered, and soon became something of a clinician himself. He has taken to nursing other sick animals at the clinic by cleaning them, cuddling them, and keeping them company as they come out of surgical procedures. Lucyna Kuziel, a veterinarian at the clinic where Rademenes is now a permanent "attending" says the cat pays particularly close attention to other animals who are very sick or who are going through surgery.

"It's as if having been so close to death's door himself, he now wants to help others get better."

Rademenes is both fearless and species-agnostic, showing no hesitation about comforting big dogs with the same tenderness he gives to his own feline kind.

The healer cat is named for the sage-like feline protagonist from a popular 1980s Polish children's TV series called Siedem Zyzcen ("Seven Wishes").

Like his namesake, the real-life Rademenes is himself becoming a rising star in the online cat video universe. 

Many people hold a view that cats are not social creatures. Rademenes is clear evidence to the contrary. He's an exemplar of compassion, and one from whom we all could learn.