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Functional Medicine®

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Functional Medicine Explained

DNA Mind: Addictive Behaviors


One of the most interesting aspects of the human brain is its ability to become addicted. Addiction is a serious problem and based on genetic predisposition, many are prone to it. Addictive behaviors include alcohol, nicotine, cannabis & opioid dependence, psychosis response from cannabis use, eating disorders such as binge eating, and adrenaline seeking/risk taking behaviors. These forms of addiction are all involved in biological areas that contribute to disease. We have the ability to test our patients to determine if they have a genetic predisposition to one of these addictive behaviors and create protocols to advise them to stay away from participating in any of these harmful behaviors at the risk of developing an addiction. The genetic test we use is DNA Mind from DNA Life. A sample report is shown below:


As noted above, the brain has many different genes pathways that are involved in specific behaviors. In addictive behaviors, we see cell signaling, dopaminergic, endocannabinoid, neurotrophic, serotonergic, and stress response pathways all play a role. Specifically for addictive behaviors, the focus is on the specific genes below.


BDNF stands for Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor. This is part of the nerve growth factor family of proteins in the body. Its main purpose is to promote brain development, including neuronal cell survival, differentiation, migration, synaptogenesis, and plasticity. This gene is also hypothesized to participate in the regulation of stress in relation to neurodegenerative and mood disordered. Additionally, individuals who have altered levels are more susceptible to addictive behaviors. The wildtype CC shows no impact, the CT heterozygote shows a moderate impact, and the TT homozygote shows a high impact.

With these genotypes, we see the risk allele is T. When the T allele is present, there is a 25% reduction in activity dependent secretion in the central nervous system. This is responsible for individuals having cognitive decline, anxiety, and addictive behaviors. In order to best help those who have the T allele, we recommend participating in regular aerobic exercise. Exercise has been proven to improve mood and reduce the risk of neurodegeneration. For more information, please refer to GeneCards, The Human Gene DataBase.


Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that is responsible for modulating feelings of reward and pleasure. If there are alterations in dopamine, we see various psychiatric disorders, neurodegenerative disorders, cognitive impairment, mood and anxiety disorders, and addictive behavior leading to a risk-seeking behavior and substance abuse. COMT catalyses the transfer of methyl groups. This is important when it comes to the metabolism of endogenous substances. The wild type, GG shows a high function impact. The heterozygote GA shows moderate function and the homozygous AA shows low function.

Individuals with the GG genotype (wild type) are at a risk for developing cognitive deficits and cognitive decline. This is related to the increased enzymatic activity leading the dopamine to be broken down faster. GG genotypes also have a higher susceptibility to chase reward-seeking behaviors. It is best to encourage those with a GG genotype to engage in social activity and learning new hobbies to keep the cognitive decline to a minimum.

If you have the AA genotype (homozygotes) you have lower enzymatic activity. This leads to a decreased breakdown of neurotransmitters and increases your susceptibility to anxiety disorders. Additionally, the AA carriers are more likely to have bipolar disorder and depression. These individuals should avoid environmental stressors and should limit caffeine and alcohol while increasing their magnesium intake. For more information, please refer to Gene Cards, The Human Gene DataBase.


Dopamine Receptor D1 encodes for a dopamine receptor. Throughout the body, this is the receptor that is more abundant in the central nervous system. D1 helps to regulate neuronal growth, development, and impacts behavior responses. Additionally, the D1 receptors are in charge in the regulation of dopamine release. This is what drives them to be influencing factors with addictive behaviors, specifically opioid addiction and gambling. The wildtype, TT shows a moderate impact. The TC heterozygote shows a low impact, and the CC homozygote shows no impact. For the T>C polymorphism we recommended that individuals are aware of their genotype and the behaviors that they are more prone to. These individuals are known to have bipolar disorder, addictive behaviors, impulsive actions, gambling, compulsive shopping, and compulsive eating.

The C>T genotype is also associated with addictive behaviors, mainly associated with gambling. The wild type CC shows no impact, the heterozygote CT shows a low impact, and the homozygous TT shows a moderate impact. For more information, please refer to Gene Cards, The Human Gene DataBase.


This dopamine circuits throughout the midbrain and contributes to addiction and eating behaviors. This gene is most commonly associated with alcohol addiction. The wildtype CC has no impact, the heterozygote CT has a moderate impact, and the homozygous TT has a high impact. The risk allele is T. For those who have a T allele, they have  reduced number of dopamine binding sites in the brain. This leads individuals with less sensitivity, rendering them more likely to have addictive behaviors.

For those who have the T allele, it is important to decrease the intake of sweet or high fat foods. Greater sugar consumption has been associated with a higher overall BMI. For more information, please refer to GeneCards, The Human Gene DataBase.


This encodes for the dopamine receipts that are found in the limbic areas of the brain. The limbic areas are known for controlling cognitive, emotional, and endocrine functions. The wildtype TT has no impact, the TC heterozygote has a low impact, and the homozygote CC has a moderate impact. This is associated with a reduction in receptor binding.

Individuals who have the C risk allele have been found to be more sensitive to cocaine, opioids, alcohol, and nicotine dependence. For those who are prone to these addictions, it is important that practitioners are aware and consider therapy for managing their patients addictions. For more information, please refer to Gene Cards, The Human Gene DataBase.


This dopamine receptor is a G-protein coiled receptor that inhibits adenylyl cyclase. Variations in this gene are associated with behavior changes by impacting the autonomic nervous system. The wild type, CC has a low impact. The heterozygote CT has a low impact, and the homozygote TT has a moderate impact.

For those who have the CC genotype, they are more predisposed to novelty seeking behavior. Additionally, those who have the T allele should be aware of their risk factor and seek help for their possible risk of addictive disorders. For more information, please refer to Gene Cards, The Human Gene DataBase.


This is a opioid receptor from part of the opioid system. This is part of how the body regulates pain, reward, and addictive behaviors. The wild type, AA has no impact, the heterozygote G has a moderate impact and the homozygote GG has a high impact.

For this gene, the risk allele is G. The G carriers have been shown to have an increased risk for alcoholism and opioid dependence. Additionally, they may have increased pain sensitivity. For those who have the G allele, it is best to stay away from prescription medication and pain medicine if possible as this can trigger an addiction. For more information, please refer to Gene Cards, The Human Gene DataBase.


This gene is responsible for transporting serotonin from synaptic spaces to presynaptic neurons. This protein is a specific target for stimulants like cocaine. For those who have the wild type, CC they have no impact. For those who have the heterozygote CA they also have no impact. However, the AA genotype (homozygote) has a moderate impact.

An individual who carries the A allele has a higher chance of drinking more intensely leading to alcoholism. This has to dow ith altering the serotonin transporter expression levels. For those who have the risk allele, it is important to be cautious when partaking in alcohol consumption. For more information, please refer to Gene Cards, The Human Gene DataBase.


GABA is the inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. Glucose is the precursor for GABA production. It mediates the neural activity that is necessary for information processing. These receptors can increase the risk of anxiety, making it a sweet spot to target for those who have behavior and mood disorders. The wildtype TT and heterozygous TC both have no impact. The homozygote CC however has a high impact. With this specific genotype, the C allele is often associated with alcohol addiction. It is key for these individuals to focus on triggers and limit alcohol exposure. For more information, please refer to GeneCards, The Human Gene DataBase.


This is a protein that plays a role in neurotransmission. If you smoke, you may have an increased risk of developing lung cancer if you possess a certain genotype. The GG wildtype has no impact. The AG heterozygote has a moderate impact, and the homozygote AA has a high impact. The A allele is associated with smoking a higher number of cigarettes per day. These individuals are also at an increased risk for alcohol dependence. For more information, please refer to Gene Cards, The Human Gene DataBase.


This is a protein encoded by nicotinic receptor subunits. The A allele of this gene has been associated with increased pleasure response from the first cigarette and leads those to become more likely in developing a smoking addiction. Surprisingly, the A allele carriers are also more susceptible to have a decreased risk for developing a cocaine dependence. The GG wildtype has no impact. The GA heterozygote has a low impact, and the AA homozygote has a moderate impact. For more information, please refer to Gene Cards, The Human Gene DataBase.


These are lipid-based neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptor proteins. They are then expressed throughout the central and peripheral nervous system. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for appetite, pain, mood, memory and the effects of cannabis. We are able to assess these genes to determine if an individual is susceptible to psychoactive ingredients of cannabis. The C allele is associated with altering the mood and cognition for those who use cannabis. The wild type, CC has a high impact, the homozygote TT has no impact, and then TC heterozygote has a moderate impact. For more information, please refer to GeneCards, The Human Gene DataBase.


This is responsible for the hydrolysis of a number of primary and secondary fatty acids. This plays a significant role in pain, depression, appetite, and inflammation. Due to this, we see this gene heavily associated with a higher risk of drug and alcohol abuse.

Those who have an AA genotype produce 50% less FAAH. This causes a slower breakdown, which then affects the dopamine reward pathway. The CC genotype shows a greater activation in widespread areas and have a more difficult time withdrawing from cannabis and alcohol. The CC is the wildtype and has no impact. The CA is the heterozygote and has a low impact. The homozygote AA has a high impact. For more information, please refer to GeneCards, The Human Gene DataBase.


This is closely related to other AKT kinase. This plays a significant role in the way we metabolize, cell survival, growth, and angiogenesis. The wild type, CC has a high impact. The Heterozygote CT has a low impact, and the homozygote TT has no impact. For those who have the CC genotype, it is key to avoid cannabis. For more information, please refer to GeneCards, The Human Gene DataBase.

Test Pairing

When it comes to addiction, the best thing we can do is listen to those who need help, support them, encourage them to participate in therapy and other healthy hobbies. However, we are able to test the micronutrients of individuals and this may help us ensure they are receiving the correct amount of vitamins and minerals their body needs to function properly. By ensuring they are not deficient in minerals and vitamins, the body will crave less. This can help those who suffer from addictions by reducing a factor. We use the Micronutrient test from SpectraCell to test for these deficiencies. A sample report is shown below:

Addictive behaviors can become very serious and should not be taken lightly. Part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle includes exercise, proper nutrition, and chiropractic adjustments to help the body relax. In a study done, it showed that improvement of spinal neural integrity and neural dopaminergic pathways through chiropractic adjustments contribute toward improved homeostasis and the brain reward cascade. This allowed the patient to express a greater state of overall well-being. For more, please refer to, ‘Subluxation Based Chiropractic Care in the management of Cocaine Addiction: A Case Report” .

Addiction is such a serious issue and should be taken seriously. Having the ability to test individuals and provide them with insight on what they can become easily addicted to could save many lives and families. Although these tests provide insight, they are not saying that you will not become addicted to another type of substance or habit. It is a great idea to have teenagers tested so they are aware of their body and how their actions could lead to lifetime struggles. -Kenna Vaughn, Senior Health Coach


Holder, J. M., & Shriner, B. E. (2012). Subluxation based chiropractic care in the management of cocaine addiction: a case report. Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research, 14(1), 8-17.

The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, and sensitive health issues and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We also use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our posts, topics, and subject cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate and support directly or indirectly our clinical scope of practice.* Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900. The provider(s) Licensed in Texas& New Mexico

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