Archive for February, 2016

Trendy Transit

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More Americans Hop on Buses and Trains

More people today are embracing the many benefits of commuting by public transit. Beyond the good feelings of reducing their carbon footprint and avoiding the stress of traffic, they are meeting and conversing with fellow passengers, reading, working via mobile devices or simply relaxing.

Total U.S. mass transit trips topped 2.7 billion in the third quarter of 2014, a 1.8 percent rise from the same period in 2013, according to the American Public Transportation Association. This represents “a dramatic change in public opinion as more people are demanding public transportation services,” according to President and CEO Michael Melaniphy.

Many communities are responding by improving the operations and scope of their mass transit systems. Oklahoma City’s bus and metro system was acquired by Embark (EmbarkOK.com) in 2013. In April 2014, it launched the first phase of changes, including increased frequency of bus routes to reduce both passenger waiting and travel times. Since then, ridership has increased 8 percent. Beginning last January, two crosstown bus routes began operating until midnight.

For Andre Small, late-night service means he can ride to and from his home and the restaurant where he works. “I would take the afternoon bus to work, but then have to walk four miles home when my shift ended at 11 p.m.,” says Small. “Carrying my tips in cash late at night didn’t feel safe. Bus service until midnight is a lifesaver.”

Bus ridership in Indianapolis reached a 23-year peak last year, totaling nearly 10.3 million passenger trips, and a new downtown transportation center is expected to open this year. IndyGo, the Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation (IndyGo.net), plans to offer the nation’s largest electric bus fleet, rolling out the first vehicles by fall, with a fleet of 21 by year’s end.

Capitol Metro launched two special MetroRapid bus routes in Austin, Texas, in 2014, and new bus and rail transportation centers opened last year in Denver and Anaheim, California. New streetcar projects are underway in Atlanta, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Dallas, Detroit, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Salt Lake City, Tucson and Washington, D.C.

New Cancer Test for Dogs

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Detects Illness in Time for Effective Treatment

by Shawn Messonnier

Pet owners often ask if there’s an accurate, inexpensive way to test dogs for cancer before they develop clinical sign of it. A diagnosis early in the course of the disease is crucial for beginning effective treatment and better outcomes. Until recently, the answer to their question was no.

As a result, most owners have remained unaware of the problem until the cancer was well advanced and had spread throughout the pet’s body. While chemotherapy can help some pets, the treatment is unable to heal most of them due to the advanced stage of most diagnosed cancers, which typically already have been active for six to 12 months or longer.

Early diagnosis would allow both traditional and natural therapies to be more effective. In some cases, chemotherapy might not even be needed, because natural medicines such as astragalus, essential fatty acids, mushroom extracts, ginseng and green tea may be able to reverse the cancer at its earliest stages.

Fortunately, dog owners can now secure an accurate early diagnosis using a new blood panel costing less than $200, including lab processing, that enables veterinarians to detect cancer and other inflammatory diseases before a pet becomes ill. The tests provide valuable information about the dog’s health before overt signs of disease are observed, damage occurs and treatment options become more limited and expensive. Early detection tests for cancer in cats will be available soon.

The tests measure several aspects of cell irregularity, including abnormal cell division and systemic inflammatory activity, by detecting any increased levels of thymidine kinase and C-reactive protein in the pet’s body.

A study by California’s Veterinary Diagnostics Institute’s VDI Laboratory applying the new blood panel tests to 360 dogs followed their incidences of cancer and other serious diseases for up to a year. The researchers found that nearly all of the cancers that occurred were detected four to six months prior to the pet showing outward signs. Because the cancers were detected early and treated before the pet became overtly ill, costs to the pet owner were greatly reduced and the effectiveness of cancer treatment improved.

The new cancer screening tests, which are designed to be part of a routine wellness plan, constitute the most comprehensive single blood diagnosis available in monitoring overall canine health.

It’s just as important to check the vitamin D status of canine patients. Low levels contribute to increased incidence of cancer and infectious diseases, according to a study published in the journal Veterinary and Comparative Oncology. Supplementing vitamin D levels is easy and inexpensive and may help reduce the incidence of serious disease later in life.

While the new blood panel tests have been shown to be highly accurate in early cancer detection, any test can miss it if the number of cancer cells is too small. Therefore, pets with negative test results should be retested every six months, while positive results prompt further diagnostic tests and initial treatment. Pets with cancer also benefit from these tests because they allow the vet to fine-tune a treatment plan and determine when a cancer may be coming out of remission.

The screening is recommended for all dogs 5 years of age and older. Only a small amount of blood is needed and results are available within a few weeks.

Shawn Messonnier, a doctor of veterinary medicine practicing in Plano, TX, is the award-winning author or The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats and Unexpected Miracles: Hope and Holistic Healing for Pets. For more information, visit PetCareNaturally.com

Orange Oil Calms Kids in Dental Chairs

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For centuries, aromatherapy using orange oil has been heralded in traditional herbalism for its ability to alleviate anxiety. Research published in the journal Advanced Biomedical Research now finds that aromatherapy using the same ingredient can significantly reduce a child’s anxiety at the dentist’s office.

The study, conducted at Iran’s Isfahan University of Medical Sciences and published in the peer-reviewed journal Advanced Biomedical Research, tested 10 boys and 20 girls between 6 and 9 years old. In this crossover design study, participants were assigned randomly into two groups. Half the children were treated with water instead of any essential oil (control) initially and received orange aroma in the second session (intervention). Another 15 children received treatment under orange aroma in the first encounter (intervention) and were treated without any aroma the second time (control). When the children were given orange oil aromatherapy, they experienced significantly reduced hearts rates and lower salivary cortisol levels compared with those not receiving it.

The results corroborate findings from a 2000 study from the University of Vienna, in Austria, published in Physiology and Behavior.

Cooking with Ancient Grains

Have you read this month’s Conscious Eating article? Click here to check it out! 

And here’s just one more recipe to cook with ancient grains!

Black Rice

Cardamom-Infused Black Rice Porridge with Blueberries and Pistachios

Yields: 4-6 servings

Black Rice

  • 3/4 cup black rice
  • 2 whole green cardamom pods
  • 1.5 cups boiling purified water

Porridge

  • 1 cup half-and-half, plus more as needed
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup, or more as needed
  • 3/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 4 to 6 Tbsp pomegranate seeds, for garnish
  • 3 Tbsp lightly toasted chopped plain pistachios, for garnish

Start the rice the night before: Add the rice and cardamom pods to a large, heavy saucepan. Pour over the boiling water, cover and let sit at room temperature or overnight (or chill, covered, for up to 2 days).

The next morning, make the porridge: Add 1 cup of half-and-half, the maple syrup and ground cardamom to the saucepan with the rice, cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Uncover, decrease the heat to retain a lively simmer, and cook, stirring once occasionally, until the rice is tender with a slight chew, 5-7 minutes.

Remove the cardamom pods, if preferred. Add the blueberries and simmer gently until they are warmed through, 1-2 minutes more.

To finish, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup more half-and-half to reach a desired consistency. Taste for sweetness and adjust with more maple syrup if needed.

Divide between 4-6 breakfast bowls. Top each bowl with 1 Tbsp of pomegranate seeds and 1 tsp of chopped pistachios. Serve warm.

Recipe adapted from Simply Ancient Grains or Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, by Maria Speck, courtesy of Ten Speed Press.