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A Brief History of Vanilla

By Amanda Jones

Vanilla is a tropical climbing orchid, with a long green fleshy stem that sprouts roots that cling to trees parasitically. Its yellow or orange orchidaceous flowers grow in bunches, which bloom one flower each day, opening one by one during the two month season. Vanilla cannot grow naturally in temperate climates. In nature they are only pollinated by Mexican bees and hummingbirds that are capable of penetrating a tough membrane that separates the plant’s pistol and stamen.

How Henrietta Lacks Changed Medical History

Henrietta LacksIn 1951, doctors removed Henrietta Lacks's cells without her consent. More than half a century later, companies have made millions from her cell culture, while few of Lacks's descendants can even afford insurance.

The unsettling story of Henrietta Lacks begins with an everyday occurrence: a trip to the doctor's office. The 30-year-old African-American's 1951 diagnosis of cervical cancer would change her life, and the damaged cells taken from her body without permission would alter the course of medical history. At a time when health-care reform is a key concern for the White House and millions of Americans, Lacks's story is a potent reminder of the injustices that were perpetrated by the health-care industry on the poor and uneducated not long ago.

Raised by her grandfather on a tobacco farm in Virginia, Henrietta Lacks was the granddaughter of slaves. She gave birth to her first child at 14 and later married the father of the baby, who happened to be her first cousin—not uncommon at the time. Shortly after Henrietta turned 30, she felt a knot in her lower stomach that she knew meant something was wrong. But with a husband and a house full of kids to take care of, Lacks could ill afford to worry for long; her family also had little money for a doctor's visit, and at the time, many hospitals offered African-American patients substandard treatment.

Caring for Your Well Being

Too often we fail to pay adequate attention to our everyday well being. The following pointers show what happens when you fail to adequately care for you body and health.

Watch Out For Those Pesky Dairy Products

Jane Plant's article reminds us of why some of our forebears were averse to eating dairy products. At the very least it calls on us to be more cautious and critical about what we eat. After all, we are what we eat!

Ghanaian Doctor Heals With Solar Energy

Atobrah and his associates have developed the Integrated Distributed Utilities Network (IDUN) to provide support for infrastructure requirements for such basic needs as potable water, telecommunications and Internet access. An IDUN can be located at community-based clinics, village and town clinics, clinics-on-wheels and portable medical labs for dispensing anti-viral treatment for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other endemic diseases that plague those living in the developing world. Adequate medical care requires that practitioners and patients have access to such basics as a refrigerator, a light, record keeping and communication. From remote areas, a satellite phone powered by solar energy can send data to a central location to coordinate care and handle emergencies.

A Case of Voodoo Statistics?

Excerpts from the report were given to the news media in advance for release this evening, but an embargo on it was broken by other news organizations. Despite the revised estimates, the epidemic remains one of the great scourges of mankind. This week's analysis predicts that 2.1 million people died of AIDS in the last year, and 2.5 million were newly infected - or about 6,800 every day.
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