Natural Medicine: Affordable, Effective & Eco-friendly

It seems like everyone is taking pharmaceuticals, and although they are effective, these drugs are finding their way into our drinking water. In 2008, an Associated Press investigation showed that mood stabilizers, sex hormones, antibiotics, etc, were found in at least 41 million Americans’ drinking water supplies. Because of this water quality issue, it’s important to acknowledge that many health problems can be resolved through lifestyle changes (such as proper diet, exercise and stress reduction regimes) as well as natural medicines. Effective alternatives that have less of an impact on our water supply include but are not limited to essential oils, flower essences, acupuncture and Chinese herbs. pills

Mood Enhancers
Having a baby, losing your job, relocating and other major life events can cause dysfunction and chaos in your life. You might not even feel like yourself, but instead of resorting to anti-depressants, sometimes a holistic approach will suffice.

Essential oils are liquids distilled from plants and flowers, and they have powerful healing properties. Some massage therapists integrate these oils into their treatment, but you can create a personalized aromatherapy session at home. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “Research has confirmed that lavender produces calming, soothing, and sedative effects.” For example, if you’re stressed out or anxious, a few drops of lavender essential oil in your bath or vitamin E body cream may calm your nerves. Bergamot and Neroli have a reputation for uplifting your energy and relieving depression, so these oils can be diffused in your home or office.

However, do keep in mind that although each oil has certain properties or a reputation, your body might react to them differently. Also, when using essential oils, it’s important to purchase 100 percent therapeutic grade oil. Still, regardless of the oil’s quality, certain types such as cinnamon and peppermint can burn if applied directly to the skin. Essential oils are versatile and each oil has several health benefits, and if you visit a massage therapist or holistic practitioner, you’re sure to find a blend of oils to meet your needs.

Another option is to use flower essences. Dr. Edward Bach was a British physician who created Bach Flower Remedies. These flower essences are 100 percent natural and are made by sun-steeping or boiling spring water infused with wild flowers. In comparison to essential oils, they don’t have a fragrance and are completely safe. If you have any emotional imbalances or undesirable feelings such as fear, worry or aggression, a couple drops of flower essences in your water may help bring peace back into your life.

Treating Illnesses
Diseases may initially affect a specific part of your body, but eventually they cause other organs and bodily functions to malfunction or shut down. Because diseases are complex in nature, holistic cures for serious illnesses often attempt to treat the body on multifaceted level.

Jeffrey Bond has been practicing acupuncture for 20 years, and people of all ages with various ailments seek his expertise. Bond explains that acupuncture can treat many different problems, because it “treats the person as a whole system.” Often times another system in the body is neglected or cannot be properly treated by Western methods. Bond says this is when “chi and channels are key,” because the “matrix of channels throughout our body (blood, circulation) influence emotions.”

Chinese medicine understands this connection and this is why acupuncture can treat back pain and stress as well as more severe ailments such as Ménière’s disease. This disease is an abnormality of the inner ear, which often affects only one ear. In 1861, French physician Prosper Ménière described the following symptoms of the disease: pressure or pain in the ear, variable hearing loss, severe dizziness or vertigo, and a roaring sound in the ears.

Bond once treated a woman with Ménière’s, and the disease caused her to experience severe vertigo, migraines and tinnitus (a ringing sound in the ears). In addition, the imbalance made her violently sick to the point of collapse. According to Bond, acupuncture helped her manage the disease, and he says the symptoms no longer plague the patient.

If needles deter your interest in trying acupuncture, visiting a Chinese herbalist is an alternative. After the herbalist diagnoses you, he/she will prepare your herbal remedy by measuring a concoction of leaves, twigs and other dried plants, which you boil down to tea. According to the Rocky Mountain Herbal Institute, composing the herbs is a methodical process, and you can’t simply choose herbs for a single symptom. Some herbal doctors such as Dr. Bob Shen, OMD, LAC have created formulations to help combat certain ailments such as diabetes, asthma and herpes as well as prevent high blood pressure, Parkinson’s disease, cancer and osteoporosis.

There are a variety of affordable ways to heal your ailments without traditional medicines. Plus, these alternative treatments can have a lower impact on your body and the environment. Whether you choose traditional or natural medicines, it’s best to do plenty of research and discuss your treatment options with a doctor. Pharmaceuticals are powerful drugs that we are lucky to have available, but it’s comforting to know that you have other options that are not as harmful to our drinking water.

Source: About My Planet

Eco-friendly Cleaning Products

It’s common to disinfect toilets, sinks, counters, etc. with bleach or other harsh chemicals that only leave behind a strong, unpleasant odor. Sometimes an odor so suffocating that it causes you to leave the sparkling room before you even get a chance to enjoy it. But cleaning products don’t have to be so assaultive to your body and surroundings.2531475055_e022dda01a_m

A more natural way to clean is to use essential oils. Essential oils are liquids distilled from flowers, trees, roots, bushes, shrubs and seeds. Essential oils were actually humankind’s first medicine, and there are 188 references to essential oils in the Bible. Each oil has different properties and certain ones can protect the immune system, enhance your mood, stimulate or regenerate tissues and nerves, oxygenate cells and even destroy odors.

The simplest way to create a multi-purpose cleaner is to use a spray bottle and add 30 drops of lemon essential oil to 8 ounces of water. Lemon like other citrus fruits is a natural antibacterial and antiseptic, so this solution is good to use on counter tops, floors, toilets, etc. Cinnamon can be used too as an antifungal, antiviral and antimicrobial. It’s important to make sure that the oil you are purchasing is 100% therapeutic grade; otherwise, it can burn your skin.

The best place to purchase quality oils is at a natural health food store. Although they are expensive, they last awhile since you don’t need to use a lot. Essential oils are a healthy alternative to the common toxic cleaning products. However, you can also use vinegar as a multi-purpose cleaner and baking soda as a carpet deodorizer.

Remember to use rags instead of paper towels, because you can wash and reuse them. If you use any other disposable fabrics to clean, find alternatives that are either biodegradable or can be reused.

Eco-friendly cleaning products are safe to use around pets and children, and when you choose to use essential oils, you clean and refresh your house with aromatic ingredients. There are a variety of oils that can mixed to create a customized scent and cleaning product to meet your needs.

Google Going Solar

In the largest solar panel system ever constructed in the US, Google Inc. is planning to incorporate 9,212 solar panels to power 30% of their Mountain View, California operations. EI Solutions, part of Energy Innovations Inc., will install these solar panels on four acres worth of roof and these panels will also be used as shading for cars. The panels will create 1.6 megawatts of energy, the same amount of energy needed to power 1,000 Californian homes. Google-User-Should-Know-these-important-URLs-1

Google’s solar project should be completed by next Spring, but they’re not stopping there. They are also looking to other ways they can make their locations more environmentally friendly.

Source: Alternative Energy News, Solar Energy System for Google Headquarters, October 17

Major automakers turn to Illinois startup for electric vehicle batteries

The Big Three automakers and the U.S. Department of Energy are banking on Illinois startup company SiNode Systems to help them develop the light, energy-dense batteries needed to accelerate the spread of electric vehicles, increasing the distance electric vehicles can drive between charges and making the technology more affordable.

In June, SiNode Systems was awarded a $4 million grant to work on prototypes of better batteries with the DOE and Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Alliance as part of the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC), a subsidiary of the U.S. Council for Automotive Research.

The work will stretch over 30 months, building on technology that SiNode’s founders patented while at Northwestern University and continued developing with SiNode, which is based at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s University Technology Park.

The technology — anode materials for lithium ion batteries — can also be used in smartphones, tablets and other consumer electronics. In 2013, SiNode won the grand prize at the prestigious Rice Business Plan Challenge in Texas, an honor including different awards totaling almost $1 million. In 2012, SiNode Systems was a finalist in the Clean Energy Challenge hosted by the Clean Energy Trust in Chicago.

Last year, SiNode co-founder and CEO Samir Mayekar was named one of Midwest Energy News’ “40 under 40.”

Samir Mayekar

Samir Mayekar

Mayekar talked recently with Midwest Energy News about the grant and the future of electric vehicle batteries.

Midwest Energy News: What does the DOE and Ford/General Motors/ Fiat Chrysler contract mean for SiNode’s work?

Mayekar: It’s a tremendous step forward for the company. Working hand in hand with the Big Three U.S. automakers to bring our technology to market — it’s a big step.  The most important work we can do to bring our new technology to market is focus on customer-led development. Via the USABC award, we work on a weekly basis with the battery teams at FCA, GM and Ford.

Would the technology you are developing be relevant to other energy applications, like storage for solar panels or on the grid?

It will. The focus of this award is automotive, however the work we’re doing to meet the automotive specifications will be relevant to consumer electronics. The grid is one step beyond automotive. In terms of the difference, we provide the most value to customers where size and weight are the preliminary value drivers.

If you have something mobile — whether it’s a drone or smart phone or tablet or car — mobility is key in those applications. When you’re talking about the grid, it’s all about cost. The size of the battery isn’t a primary factor so this market will be a longer term focus after we enter the vehicle market.

Does your technology figure into the ability to use electric vehicles as storage on the grid?

That’s a really interesting application of technology — the notion you would connect your car in the garage and use it for storage and demand response. I can see that happening, but first we need to get EVs to be widely adopted, then this could become a bigger trend.

What is the key to your technology and how does it differ from traditional batteries?

The lithium-ion battery technology invented 25 years ago uses graphite anodes. Our technology replaces that graphite with a composite of silicon and graphene that stores more lithium per unit than graphite. This enables us to increase the capacity of the battery, because it’s a better sponge for the lithium.

How much extra distance per charge could electric vehicles gain thanks to your technology?

The first-generation deployment of our technology enables up to a 40 percent increase in range, depending on battery configuration. As you migrate to generations two and three, the capacity bump is highly impacted by the battery ecosystem.

We provide one component, which is the anode. When the market sees improvements in cathode technology and anode technology together in the battery, you can get close to a 100 percent increase in range. But improvements to the cathode alone can’t achieve such dramatic spikes in energy density.

What projects might SiNode undertake when this contract is done?

We do have other customer-focused development projects underway, mainly in consumer electronics. We are highly focused on getting our consumer electronic products to commercial scale and volume.

The automotive market works through longer-term contracts, and we started this company to get into the EV space in the long run. But we’ll see the initial launch of our company in consumer electronics and that will pave the way for future markets like EV batteries.

How much do you expect the EV market to grow?

People have divided opinions about this. I do think we’re at a very different place than we were five or 10 years ago. Countries like Germany are trying to outlaw fuel-burning vehicles by 2030. The Chinese government is taking big steps to promote electrification. Norway is moving to outlaw fuel-burning vehicles by 2025. Volkswagen announced a significant commitment for its fleet. You’re seeing much more traction than 10 years ago.

I’m not going to try to predict the future. But if our technology does what it’s supposed to do, we could see big changes. Industry experts are cautious but much more optimistic than they were five years ago.

What does the DOE/Big Three contract and SiNode’s other accomplishments mean to your personal professional trajectory and goals?

I have one personal goal: to bring SiNode technology to the world in the quickest and most efficient way possible. One thing that’s been amazing about this job is seeing how the market has truly evolved. We started this company four years ago. Since then the consumer electronics market, the auto market, the battery market have changed tremendously. You’ve seen Tesla going from a couple thousand orders to building the biggest battery factory in the world in Nevada.

For me personally, we’re based in the Midwest, but 90 percent of our customers are in Japan and Korea, so our local innovations here in the Midwest have global traction.

How could the growth of the electric vehicle industry and innovations in batteries affect jobs and the economy in the Midwest?

If the electric vehicle revolution does take off, you have a whole supply chain and entire industries that will be disrupted. That will mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. There are many companies manufacturing powertrains that would be out of business if EVs become the norm. Therefore you’re seeing a lot of action, like the German company Bosch acquiring [Silicon Valley startup battery-maker] Seeo.

You’re seeing big moves because there’s a lot to lose when an entire industry changes. With the legacy battery industry, cells are made largely in Japan, Korea and China. But production will increasingly move to the U.S. because it’s expensive to be building EV batteries in China and shipping them to the US assembly plants. So you could imagine a manufacturing renaissance if EVs become a [widespread] reality. Smart phones are assembled in China, but you can put those on a plane and fly them here. With EVs, that whole supply chain could change. I always get excited thinking about how the Midwest and Chicago are positioned well because we are a hub of battery innovation.

Source: Midwestern Energy News