Are You Predisposed to Opioid Addiction?

In the US, there is an epidemic of painkiller and heroin addiction. One biotech company is developing a DNA test that can identify if you are predisposed to opioid addiction.

Pain-Relief Medicinal Risks

When using medication for pain, there is an assortment of side effects that can develop. Too much ibuprofen can cause rashes and stomach bleeding. Too much acetaminophen (especially if taken with alcohol) can cause liver damage. And these are over-the-counter medicines.

Doctors often prescribe opioid-based pharmaceuticals to treat moderate-to-severe pain. The writing of prescriptions was slackly distributed to patients young and old for too many years. In 2014, drug overdoses in America hit an all-time high. And according to the CDC, six out of 10 of those overdoses were opioid-related. Almost 19,000 people died from painkillers—most accidentally.

The Test

A cheek-swab DNA test has been created by a California bioscience lab called Proove. The physical test is combined with a patient questionnaire. One of the lead developers claims the results are about 93% accurate. The results depict a patient’s opioid addiction risk.

Some in the medical field doubt the efficacy of such a test. They believe that a good doctor monitors the patient’s symptoms and response to medication—and that’s the best “biomarker.”

Proponents of the DNA test feel this is advancement towards placing fewer people at risk of opioid addiction. Once the biotech company’s claims are peer-reviewed, more details regarding its success rate will be available.

Why Bother?

As mentioned, the numbers of opioid overdoses are staggering. But another crucial problem is the increase in heroin use. Prescription painkillers become addictive. Many heroin users begin using because it’s a similar high to the opiate-based pills, is cheaper, and more readily available.

We’re not just talking about adults here. Data collected between 2009 and 2013 from a survey of 15,000 high school students in an ongoing nationwide study was analyzed. The findings were that 75% of high school seniors who abuse opioid prescription drugs have used (or are still using) heroin.


If a swab DNA test can tell you if you’re predisposed to opioid addiction, you and your doctor probably won’t want you to take painkillers. There are synthetic prescription alternatives available for short-term use like Tramadol.

There are also non-medicinal pain-relieving options as well. Numerous studies, along with patient testimony, have given Tai Chi, yoga, and acupuncture their due place at the top of “modern” healing practices. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has publicly stated that non-drug approaches to pain management can be significantly beneficial.

In the best of all worlds, you wouldn’t suffer from unmanageable pain. Keeping our bodies healthy and making safe choices can help prevent illness and injury. If, however, you find that pain gets the best of you, give it some worthy thought before taking any opioid-based medicine.


Red Tea Detox
Red Tea Detox

Try This Exercise and Slow Down Aging

Just about any type of physical movement has the potential to slow down the aging process. A new study, however, has pinpointed one exercise, in particular, that can reverse signs of aging in the brain. Get ready to get your groove on because DANCING has now been recognized as the most effective activity for delaying dementia and other symptoms associated with an aging brain.

Exercise as Brain Nourishment

Telomeres are tiny, protective, end-caps on our DNA strands. As we age (and our cells age), telomeres shrink, shorten, and eventually fray; this is when our physical and mental health declines. Additionally, poor lifestyle circumstances like smoking, obesity, insomnia, chronic stress, and lack of exercise can speed up the disintegration of telomeres.

Conversely, physical activity positively affects our cells and their structure. In fact, research has shown that elite athletes have longer telomeres than other people their own age who do not exercise. Also, older women who participate in moderate exercise or habitually walk daily were found to have longer telomeres.

The longer the telomere, the more protection your DNA has during the process of cell division and replication. So basically, exercise can help keep your DNA healthy and be at less risk for damage. Otherwise, over time, especially without physical activity, your brain cells will not reproduce the way they once did, and neurological health can suffer.

Time to Put on Your Dancing Shoes

A study was recently published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. The research pointed to the importance of physical activity, especially among the elderly. In fact, the scientists found that if you haven’t already been regularly exercising by age 40, now would be the best time to start.

Those adults within the range of 40 and 65 were the key demographic to beginning and maintaining daily exercise. Doing so, showed a reversal of shrinking telomeres in later stages of life. Just think: Physical movement (especially dancing) can help reverse the aging process!


Dancing to Remember

The recent research was conducted by several renowned professors, two of whom shared a Nobel Prize “for the discovery of the molecular nature of telomeres.” These folks understand the nature of aging, especially when it comes to brain activity and health. For the study, the subjects participated either in dance or a controlled sports group, (which consisted of weight, endurance, and flexibility training.)

Both groups benefited from their selected activity. The group that danced, however, showed greater improvement in memory, balance, and the ability to learn. The hippocampus area of the brain actually increased. In general, that part of the brain is significantly susceptible to decline with age. Again, both dancers and the sports group benefitted, but the dancing routine proved to be more beneficial than cycling, running, or other repetitive activities.

One of the aspects that helped with boosting memory was learning choreography. The dancers needed to memorize certain movements. Even if it was simple, it made a difference. With each new step, arm movement, and rhythm, the brain functioned at a higher level. Balance also showed to be significantly improved.

The research stressed that it didn’t matter what genre of music, what types of steps, or even if you felt silly or inadequate—the bottom line was that dancing proved to delay the shortening of telomeres and can delay (or even reverse) the aging process. Looks like it’s time to boogie down!




Why Your Gut Microbiome Should Be a Priority

Your gut communicates with your brain. It’s true. In fact, your gut is your brain’s executive assistant, constantly taking and sending important messages. It’s for this reason, that for optimum health, you must make maintenance of your gut microbiome a priority.

What is My Gut Microbiome?

A microbiome is the place where microorganisms live and hopefully thrive. It’s like a mini-ecosystem. Your gut is an environment where microbes can either flourish along with each other—or duke it out. Balance is crucial.

Gut bacteria, which is an essential part of your microbiome, can either increase your well-being or, conversely, play a significant role in the development of poor health. A fine balance of good bacteria can boost your immune system. It also promotes serotonin production, which we know regulates our moods and can affect social behavior, appetite, sleep, and sexual function.

What Happens When My Gut Microbiome is Unhealthy?

First off, an “unhealthy” gut microbiome would be one that was moderately to severely imbalanced. Bad bacteria would outnumber and overpower good bacteria, for example. Unfortunately, this happens quite frequently. Think about when you take antibiotic medicines.

Antibiotics kill the bad bacteria, relieving you of your infection or illness—but, they also eradicate the good guys. If the good ones aren’t replenished, balance will not be restored. Bacteria take no prisoners and their competitive nature will strive to kill off rival bacteria.

When the result is that your gastrointestinal tract has more bad microorganisms than good, you wind up with fewer allies to communicate with your DNA. This leaves you more susceptible to physical AND mental disease. A dysfunctional gut microbiome participates in the creation of many diseases including: obesity, depression, MS, and (recently discovered) Parkinson’s, among others.

Studies and Linking

Medical News Today reported that, “…eating a plant-rich diet nourishes bacteria that helps protect against disease.” It’s actually the good gut-bacteria that communicate with our DNA. That communication (from plant-based food ingestion) goes to our brain and to the rest of our body!

A recent study utilized mice as participants. Researchers raised half of the subjects on a Western diet (high in sugar and bad fats), and the other group on a diet rich in vegetables and fruits. The plant-based fed mice had amazing gut biomes. Existing gut bacteria fed on plant fiber and the DNA became phenomenal communicators, enriching overall health. Additionally, there was an abundance of good bacteria that helped the mice protect themselves from developing or acquiring the disease.

The mice that lived on a Western diet lost out to pathogenic bacteria. Gut bacteria was malnourished and starved for nutrients. The low fiber consumption also didn’t help with digestion as a whole.

Gut Woes Linked to Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s disease can be identified by an accumulation of proteins in the brain. (The alpha-synuclein proteins cluster and forms fibers. It’s the fibers that damage brain nerves, which eventually cause the physical behavior, “twitching”, and tremors we see in Parkinson patients.)

In a newer study, a particular type of gut bacteria has been identified in those diagnosed with the onset of Parkinson’s disease. Evidently, a chemical produced by said bacteria increases those proteins in the brain. It is possible that those proteins (implicated in Parkinson’s) traveled all the way from the imbalanced gut.

Some medical experts are advocating the use of probiotics and other gut-balancing treatments to prevent and assist with the disease.


Human Trial for Zika Vaccine is Underway

A DNA-based vaccine has shown to have great success on monkeys. Testing on humans has begun.

Monkey Business

There are currently a few other human trials of other potential Zika vaccines underway. This particular DNA-based experiment is different because it protected monkeys from acquiring infection from the virus. Its effectiveness is very promising in humans since it was so successful on a lower primate species.

Ted Pierson, chief of Viral Pathogenesis at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, reported the positive outcome from the monkey trial study. He stated that of the 18 primates who received a full dose of the vaccine, 17 were protected from the viral infection. The other monkeys that were given only one shot were not protected, but their bodies did create antibodies.

So, at least for the primates, the vaccine is successful; it’s just the proper dosage that still remains nebulous.

The Human Condition

Although the findings in the primate study are exciting, similar results are not always guaranteed with humans. The first phase of the human trial, however, will garner more insight for the researchers.

This potential vaccine uses the actual Zika virus in the manufacturing of synthetically created DNA. The piece of DNA, when absorbed into the body, hopefully, creates an immune response to the virus. By introducing tiny bits of Zika into the cells, the scientists hope the human body will create an antibody response. This desired cellular reaction would (optimistically) protect the body against the Zika virus.

More About Zika

At this juncture, we know that Zika is a virus that is spread through mosquito bites, blood transfusions, and sexual intercourse. The virus has been linked to Gullain-Barre syndrome, which can cause paralysis. It also causes birth defects, such as microcephaly, which is brain-related.

Pierson explains, “”The reason why there are Zika-associated neurodevelopmental defects is because the virus is actually infecting the fetus and attacking developing neurons in the fetus, causing direct harm.”

This is why a DNA-based vaccine would be revolutionary for the battle against Zika. The vaccine would create an immune response in pregnant women that would keep Zika at bay (or at least left with only a small strain of the virus.) This would, in turn, keep the unborn fetus from becoming infected, and hence getting the birth defects.

Scientists around the globe are conducting experiments with potential vaccines at a rapid pace. Everyone understands that time is of the essence when it comes to protecting the population from this virus.

Check out for more articles on Zika and other health-related topics.