|Why you need to understand the Reward Deficiency Syndrome|
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I have had Dr Kenneth Blum's book on the Reward Deficiency Syndrome for years and often refer to it when discussing the genetic tendency towards addictive behavior. And I had often wondered what Dr Blum has been doing since co-discovering an addictive gene that we now know 30% of Americans carry.
Last year I was able to attend a talk Dr Blum gave. Turns out he, in a collaborative effort, has helped to develop a brain support neuronutrient product that effectively blocks the addictive gene from being turned on.
Because this gene and other addiction genes (since discovered) are so prevalent among Americans and the ramifications so far reaching, I find it imperative that we take the time to truly understand what the battle is and that a solution exists.
What's the most common result of the Reward Deficiency Syndrome these days?
Obesity! (self medicating with food) Read what Dr Blum has to say about the connection.
Then watch this excellent youtube explaining the Reward Deficiency Syndrome and the use of Synaptose (now called SynaptaGenX)
For those who would like to read more, the following article is taken from The April 2012 issue of Collier's Magazine and the article below is from The Malibu Beach Recovery Center titled “Dopamine for Dummies.”
Dr. Blum, who has devoted his life to studying the relationship between genetics and addiction, is credited with co-discovering the so-called “alcoholic gene” in 1990. That was the year he authored with Dr. Ernst Noble, former director of the NIH's National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and researcher from UCLA, a study published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association, which found correlations between the Dopamine D2 Receptor Taq 1 A1 allele (a gene) and alcoholism
Dopamine is sometimes called “the reward chemical,” the “pleasure molecule,” and the “anti-stress” molecule. It is the primary neurotransmitter found in the brain that is responsible for happiness and other emotions. It is essential for the normal functioning of the central nervous system. Dopamine provides feelings of enjoyment and reinforcement that motivate a person proactively to “feel good.”
Several years after discovering the “alcoholic gene,” additional studies led Dr. Blum and others to conclude that it was a misnomer and there is, in fact, no such thing as a “single” alcoholic gene. Dr. Blum came to believe that the genetic anomaly previously found in alcoholics is also present in drug addicts and other people with compulsive or impulsive disorders, including overeating and obesity, attention-deficit disorder, pathological gambling and many more. He has since clarified that this gene is more accurately defined as the “reward gene.” To date there are over 2,866 published peer reviewed articles claiming that the Dopamine D2 receptor gene is associated with addiction and reward dependence behaviors.
In 1995, Dr. Blum defined the condition that occurs when genes do not work together as a cohesive unit as a “Reward Deficiency Syndrome.” He hopes that this condition will one day be recognized officially as a disease. His evidence indicates that over 1/3 of the U.S. population has some form of Reward Deficiency Syndrome, and that genetic factors account for between 40 and 60 percent of a person's vulnerability to addiction, including the effects of environment on gene expression and function.
In a healthy person, Dopamine and other neurotransmitters “cascade” like water cascading from one pool to another in a waterfall. One neurotransmitter flows into an area of the brain and triggers release of another neurotransmitter. The flow begins with Serotonin. When it is released in the hypothalamus area of the brain, Enkephalins are released and initiate the transmission of GABA, which acts like a traffic cop. GABA is important as it fine tunes the release of Dopamine. GABA allows just enough dopamine to be released to provide reward, comfort, and pleasure from ordinary activities and a degree of calming to fight off unwanted stress. People who suffer from Reward Deficiency Syndrome cannot cope with the accompanying angst, agitation and emotional pain. Their brains are unable to produce enough Dopamine, Serotonin, Norepinephrine, and Endorphins.
When levels of these "feel good" chemicals are low or blocked from the brain's receptors by genetic or environmental influences; stress, pain, discomfort and agitation are the result. To provide temporary relief people with low dopamine levels self-medicate with substances that will produce a short-lived Dopamine response including alcohol, illicit drugs, prescription drugs, junk foods, sugars, carbohydrates, caffeine, nicotine or other stimulants. These substances produce negative behaviors such as poor sleeping patterns that further depress their own endogenous Dopamine levels. Exposure to prolonged periods of stress and alcohol or other substances can also lead to a corruption of the "cascade.”
Some people with low Dopamine levels do not self-medicate with alcohol and drugs, but become clinically depressed and anxious.
These behaviors bring with them the possibility of more long-term consequences.
Both genetics and environment greatly affect what Dr. Blum calls the “brain’s reward cascade.” Therefore, it is often quite difficult to determine what is the root cause of Reward Deficiency Syndrome. However, if Reward Deficiency Syndrome has its origins in your genetic makeup, according to Dr. Blum’s research people have the power to change their genes' expression. That is, they have the ability to respond to whatever life circumstances they may be in right now and change them to something better through healthier choices -- be it healthier nutrition (nutrigenomics) or healthier thoughts, emotions, and lifestyle choices (epigenetics). Either way, the choice and the power are theirs.
Dr. Blum has long believed, and many studies have proven, that in order to overcome genetic predisposition to addiction, certain amino acids and other nutraceuticals must be used to bolster the brain’s ability to increase or decrease certain neurotransmitters or enzymes that control the brain’s reward cascade.
Dr. Blum and Dr. Waite advocate a non-specific “healthy diet” and non-specific regular exercise to accompany a regimen of taking SynaptaGenX (formerly known as Synaptose), the nutrigenomic neuroadaptogen they developed based on Dr. Blum's many years of research to increase the endogenous production of Dopamine and reduce negative Reward Deficiency Syndrome behaviors. The scientific evidence they have thus far accumulated, they say, demonstrates that SynaptaGenX changes the plasticity of the brain synapses while balancing the endogenous neurotransmitters, positively affecting the Brain Reward Cascade. After touring the Malibu Beach Recovery Center™, Dr. Blum decided that the low-glycemic Malibu Beach Recovery Diet™ and the Exercise program based on yoga breath work were the perfect companions to Synaptose.