‘Simply seeing green spaces’ may help reduce cravings

Spending time in nature brings many physical and mental health benefits, but a new study suggests that even just being able to see nature from your bedroom window could support your health. According to this study, having a view of greenery from your home can reduce unhealthful cravings.

Contact with nature can demonstrably help improve and maintain our health, according to scientific research.

Last year, for example, a randomized controlled trial found that spending time walking in nature helped lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels and significantly improve mood.

And, earlier this year, a study that we covered on Medical News Today concluded that even just having access to green spaces throughout childhood decreased a person’s risk of developing mental health problems later in life.

Full story at Medical News Today

A peek into opioid users’ brains as they try to quit

Lying inside a scanner, the patient watched as pictures appeared one by one: A bicycle. A cupcake. Heroin. Outside, researchers tracked her brain’s reactions to the surprise sight of the drug she’d fought to kick.

Government scientists are starting to peek into the brains of people caught in the nation’s opioid epidemic, to see if medicines proven to treat addiction, like methadone, do more than ease the cravings and withdrawal. Do they also heal a brain damaged by addiction? And which one works best for which patient?

They’re fundamental questions considering that far too few of the 2 million opioid users who need anti-addiction medicine actually receive it.

Full story at Medical Xpress

New psychosis treatment targets genetic mutation instead of symptoms

A novel treatment that targets the biological effects of a specific genetic mutation could help alleviate the symptoms of psychosis, a new study finds.

Deborah L. Levy, Ph.D. — from the McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA — led the new study, the findings of which now appear in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

It revealed that people who had additional copies of a certain gene, instead of the regular two, benefited from the treatment.

The mutation, called a copy number variant (CNV), affects the glycine decarboxylase gene.

Full story at Medical News Today

This herbal supplement ‘poses a public health threat’

Kratom, which is a plant-derived supplement, is growing in popularity. A new report provides further evidence of its adverse effects and calls for more research.

Kratom is an extract from the tropical tree Mitragyna speciosa, a relative of the coffee plant.

Historically, manual laborers in Southeast Asia have used the compound — either chewing the leaves or making them into tea — to soothe aches and pains and boost energy levels.

As it stands, kratom is not illegal in the United States, and people can easily purchase it online.

Full story at Medical News Today

Teens abusing painkillers are more likely to later use heroin

A USC study in the July 8 issue of JAMA Pediatrics shows that teens who use prescription opioids to get high are more likely to start using heroin by high school graduation.

“Prescription opioids and heroin activate the brain’s pleasure circuit in similar ways,” said senior author Adam Leventhal, a professor of preventive medicine and psychology and director of the USC Institute for Addiction Science at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “Teens who enjoy the ‘high’ from prescription opioids could be more inclined to seek out other drugs that produce euphoria, including heroin.”

Leventhal said the study, conducted from 2013-2017, is the first to track prescription opioid and heroin use in a group of teens over time. In 2017, 9% of the nation’s 47,600 opioid overdose deaths occurred in people under the age of 25, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition to overdose, health risks of heroin use are devastating and include severe addiction, hepatitis C, HIV and other infections.

Full story at Science Daily