Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Herb of the Month: Neem

Years ago, I was in a temple in India and was offered holy water after a religious ceremony. I remember the first time I saw the green leaf floating in the holy water. Little did I know at that time just how powerful that little green leaf actually was and the incredibly wide range of medicinal uses it has. Now, neem is one of my favorite herbal remedies both for my patients and myself.
Neem is an herb in its own category. I consider it a super-herb. It addresses a wide range of health problems, and Indian households have been using neem in their daily lives for thousands of years. It is used in cooking, lotions, shampoos, medicines, religious ceremonies, and as a natural pesticide. At one time, it was not uncommon to find the neem tree in a traditional Indian family’s backyard because of its range of everyday uses.
Neem is a tropical evergreen tree that grows from 50 to 130 feet tall found primarily in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Also known as Indian lilac, the neem tree has offered relief to countless people over the ages. Its medicinal uses are only expanding as time goes by.  Neem is currently being researched in India for the treatment of cancer. Every part of the neem tree can be for used – it’s slender leaves, bark, roots, seeds, fruit, and fragrant flowers.
It is difficult to summarize all of the healing properties of the neem tree because of its versatility. Neem leaves have been used traditionally as a blood cleanser due to their antiviral, antifungal, anti-parasitic, and antiseptic qualities. Neem leaves are also used to treat many eye disorders such as conjunctivitis, skin conditions such as acne and rosacea, stomach ulcers, poor appetite, diabetes, gum disease, fever, liver disorders, and arthritis. It is also great for the heart and used to prevent blood clots. The leaf can also be used for birth control because it has spermicidal qualities. If you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or breastfeeding, you should not consume products with neem because it can result in abortions and toxicity to infants.
Neem oil is used in soaps, lotions, facemasks, shampoos, and toothpastes. It helps treat fungal infections, lice, dry scalp, dandruff, premature graying of the hair, gingivitis, and skin disorders. Neem oil relieves dry skin and soothes itchy, red, irritated skin. It has also been used for chicken pox to relieve the associated skin irritation caused by the chicken pox virus. Neem has the ability to improve overall skin health by fighting the bacteria that causes pimples and acne. Unlike antibiotics, neem fights bacteria without causing bacterial resistance over time. Neem oil can also be used to treat arthritis and musculoskeletal pain by massaging it directly into the skin.
Given all the possible uses of neem, how can you incorporate this into your daily routine? You are welcome to follow my example and select some of the ways that I use neem in my own home:

  • Each morning I brush my teeth using toothpaste that contains neem oil. It has kept my gums healthy and free of plaque build-up.
  • After washing my face, I use a lotion with neem oil. This not only hydrates my skin throughout the day, but it also kills any surface bacteria that can cause skin breakouts.  If I have any dry or irritated skin on my body, I’ll use some of the neem lotion there too. 
  • I use a neem facemask once a week to keep my skin glowing and healthy.
  • Every two weeks I spray my vegetable garden with a homemade, natural pesticide with neem oil.  This has been a wonderful way to avoid toxic chemicals in my vegetable garden.
  • Each year I do a one-month seasonal cleanse in spring that involves neem tablets to help remove any accumulated toxins in my body and remove any parasitic organisms.

Lytro Unveils the ‘Illum’: A Beautiful Beast of a Light-Field Camera

3-Quarter NEW
More than two years after the debut of the company’s first camera, Lytro has come back with a vengeance. Well, actually, Lytro has come back with an ‘Illum,’ which is the name of a new camera that the company says, “advances the light field category from novelty to game-changing visual medium that could one day rival digital and film.”
Those are lofty words, but one look at this Star Trek-worthy beast of a light field camera and its spec sheet, and you might just become a believer. It is, in essence, the original light field camera on steroids — like they took their original concept, let’s call that camera the Lytro 1.0, and then skipped 2.0-9.0 to arrive directly at 10.0.
Open & Shut Side_72dpi
Spec-wise the camera is upgraded in every way. A ’40 Megaray’ resolution 1-inch (that’s four times larger than the previous camera) sensor is paired with an Android-powered system and Light Field Engine 2.0 for larger files that process faster.
There’s also an 8x optical zoom (30-250mm equivalent) lens with a constant f/2.0 aperture, a 4-inch 800×480-pixel tiltable touchscreen, max shutter speed of 1/4000 sec, and exposure controls that include Program, ISO Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual.
Here’s a closer look at the camera from all angles:
Drop-in Screen_72dpi (1)
Ortho Top
From the beginning, Lytro’s goal with light field technology was to revolutionize photography. To transform picture taking from capturing “a static cross-section of reality” to capturing “an authentic, interactive window into their world.” The Lytro Illum aims to do just that by giving serious photographers a light field tool that can keep up with (or perhaps even exceeds) the demands of their creativity.
“With LYTRO ILLUM, creative pioneers — ranging from artistic amateurs to experienced professionals — will tap into a new wave of graphical storytelling,” Lytro CEO Jason Rosenthal explains. “By combining a novel hardware array with tremendous computational horsepower, this camera opens up unprecedented possibilities to push the boundaries of creativity beyond the limits inherent in digital or film photography.”
Interactive images taken with Illum will be viewable in-camera and through Lytro’s own players on supported computers, tablets and smartphones. If you’ve forgotten what those images are like, check out the embedded player below:
Speaking with Engadget, Lytro CEO Jason Rosenthal summed up their hopes for this camera well when he said, “If Camera 1.0 was film-based, and Camera 2.0 was the transition from film to digital, we’re at Camera 3.0. It’s about collecting very rich information about the world.”
Will this be a true game-changer? We’ll just have to wait and see.
The Lytro Illum will be available starting July 15 for $1,600, but you can save yourself $100 and get access to special updates if you pre-order from the Lytro site. For more information or if you’d like to pull the trigger and pre-order yours already, head over to the Lytro website by clicking here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Charging Your iPad in Less Than a Minute is No Science Fiction Tale

StoreDot Super ChargerIt always seems like my iPad runs out of juice at the most inopportune times. I’ll forget to charge it and, when I’m running out the door, I’ll realize I should have plugged it in a half hour ago if I want to have enough battery power to last through the evening. An Israeli tech start-up claims to have the ability to charge mobile devices in 30 seconds. Although still a few years from being ready, it may be possible by 2016 to get your iPad ready for that long trip in under a minute.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Tel-Aviv based tech development company StoreDot unveiled a prototype charger that can charge a mobile device from near zero to 100 percent in approximately 30 seconds. The company developed the prototype specifically for the Samsung Galaxy 4 and demonstrated the device at Microsoft’s Think Next conference in Tel Aviv. StoreDot plans to make the charger for a variety of mobile devices.
Although there is little information known about the charger itself, the Wall Street Journal notes that StoreDot has been developing biological semiconductors made out of naturally occurring peptides. The chain of amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins, can be used to speed charge times.
The super fast charger is still in development phase. The prototype is about the size of a laptop charger. However, StoreDot will continue to work on reducing the size to satisfy consumer desire for mobility. The charger will probably cost somewhere around $60, which will hopefully begin production in late 2016.
You can see a video demonstration of the charger here.