Personalised Medicine: how DNA testing can optimse medication results

Pharmacogenomic testing, also known as pharmacogenetic testing, examines how your genes affect your body’s response to medications. This testing combines pharmacology (the study of drugs) and genomics (the study of genes) to guide over-the-counter and personalised medicine prescriptions. By analysing your genetic makeup, healthcare providers can tailor treatments to ensure they are effective and safe for you.

Why is Pharmacogenomic Testing Important?

  • Personalised Medicine: Pharmacogenomic testing helps doctors customise treatments based on your unique genetic profile, increasing the effectiveness of medications and reducing the likelihood of side effects.
  • Improved Drug Efficacy: By understanding your genes, doctors can select medications that are more likely to work well for you, ensuring better treatment outcomes and quicker recovery.
  • Reduced Side Effects: Some individuals experience adverse reactions to certain medications. Testing can identify which drugs you may be sensitive to, helping to avoid these unwanted effects.
  • Optimal Dosage: Determining the right dosage can be challenging. Genetic testing helps find the correct dose for you, minimising trial and error.
  • Preventing Drug Interactions: Your genetic profile can reveal how you metabolise certain drugs, preventing harmful interactions between medications.
  • Cost-Effective Treatment: By reducing ineffective treatments and adverse drug reactions, pharmacogenomic testing can lower healthcare costs, avoiding unnecessary doctor visits and hospitalisations.

Who Can Benefit from Pharmacogenomic Testing?

Patients with Chronic Conditions: Those with chronic illnesses like depression, heart disease, or cancer can find more effective and safer treatment options.
Individuals with Unexplained Drug Reactions: If you’ve had adverse reactions or poor responses to medications in the past, testing can help identify the cause and suggest better alternatives.
Individuals on Multiple Medications: Those taking several drugs can benefit from testing to avoid drug interactions.

How to Access Pharmacogenomic Testing

You can discuss your interest in pharmacogenomic testing with your doctor, pharmacist, or our clinical nutritionist. They can provide information on whether it’s suitable for you and how to proceed.

Is Pharmacogenomic Testing Covered by Medicare?

Currently, pharmacogenomic testing is not subsidised under the Medicare Benefits Schedule. Patients can access private tests by referral from their GP, Psychiatrist, Paediatrician, our Clinical Nutritionist, or by purchasing an at-home test kit from a pharmacy stockist.

How Much Does Testing Cost?

Health practitioner referred: The laboratory will charge you approx $150-$300 for testing arranged by your healthcare provider. Results will be sent to your healthcare professional, so you’ll need to pay for an appointment to receive your results. Please note, if ordered through our Clinical Nutritionist, your results will be forwarded to your treating doctor.

At-home Test Kits: A MyDNA Practitioner edition “Medication” test kit (cheek swab) from your local pharmacy will cost around $100-$150. Results will be sent to your GP or pharmacist (who can forward a copy to your GP). You’ll need to make an appointment with your GP to discuss any recommended changes to your medications.

Click here to find your nearest local pharmacy selling MyDNA Practitioner edition, at-home “Medication” test kits.

What is the Testing Process?

  1. Sample Collection: A blood test, saliva (spit) test, or a small sample of your cheek cells is collected.
  2. Laboratory Analysis: The sample is analysed in a lab to identify genetic markers that influence your response to medications.
  3. Results Interpretation: Your healthcare provider reviews the results, considering your overall health and current medications.
  4. Personalised Treatment Plan: Based on the results, your doctor may adjust your medications or dosages to better match your genetic profile.

Understanding Your Results

Your test results will indicate any genetic variants that affect your response to medications. These results help your provider recommend the best treatment options, dosages, and predict potential side effects.

Additional Information

Pharmacogenomic testing is distinct from other genetic tests that diagnose diseases or assess disease risk. It focuses solely on how your genes impact medication efficacy and safety.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please speak with your healthcare provider.

Useful Information Sites and References – Please note, when considering the range of myDNA test kits and their applications, Thrive Wellness doesn’t recommend myDNA’s at-home consumer test kit for nutrition and wellness insights. For clients seeking nutrition and wellness gene insights, we recommend the more comprehensive and clinically valuable nutrigenomic and exercisegenomic testing, available through our clinic. On request, testing can be arranged prior to initial consultation, with results recommendations discussed during your first appointment with our Clinical Nutritionist/Accredited Exercise Physiologist.

Balance: Video gaming as a space for growth

Author: Christopher Wright – Psychologist, Clinical Psychologist Registrar
Published: 5th February 2024

With the advent of technology dominating our daily lives, video games have emerged as an alternative form of enjoyment for many young people. As a psychologist intrigued by the mechanisms of the human mind and an avid gamer myself, I had always believed there were often overlooked positives in the engagement with video games. Not only are there the emotional “good” feelings they give, but it also acts as a medium for improving problem-solving and making meaningful connections.

In the health field, our understanding of neuroplasticity has shifted over the years, and with the presence of an aging population with neurodegenerative conditions, emphasis has been placed on ways to reignite the brain’s ability to remodel and adapt. Throughout these studies, it has been discovered that computer-based training has the potential to increase cognitive proficiency through “restarting” different parts of the brain, enabling neuroplasticity to be activated (Pappas and Drigas, 2019). It was therefore hypothesised that through this form of stimulation, no matter the age, that cognitive ability could improve in different areas through video games. Complex three dimensional games like Super Mario 3D World were indicated to improve hippocampal-associated memory (long term and spatial memory), showing increased gray matter in that region (Clemenson and Stark, 2015). This suggests then that problem solving skills can be enhanced through gaming.

Not only does gaming provide multiple opportunities for improvement of cognitive ability, there several other potential benefits to videogames, including:

  1. Stress Relief: Through providing a dynamic sensory experience and a healthy escapism, video games can reduce feelings of anxiety and tension.
  2. Emotional Regulation: Opportunities to self-regulate can occur often in competitive video games, with frustrations and anxiety being a common occurrence during these games. This allows the brain and body to experience these stressors and enable the body’s natural relaxation process, which can elicit similar responses to real-life stressors.
  3. Social interaction: Online multiplayer and couch co-op games can facilitate social interaction between friends or create new ones. There is opportunity for development of communication and teamworking skills through these activities.
  4. Creativity: Many video games, called “sandbox” games, encourage creativity through providing options to build and explore virtual worlds. This can encourage imagination and even innovation.
  5. Hand-Eye Coordination: Action oriented games require precise movements and quick reflexes, which can be transferable to real world activities.
  6. Learning Opportunities: There are many games that include educational elements such as history, geography, science, and mathematics. In RPG’s (Roleplaying games), conflict resolution can involve negotiation, compromise, and peaceful resolutions.
  7. Goal Setting and Achievement: Often video games will clearly identify goals and also notify the player when they achieve these goals, providing a sense of accomplishment and motivation for young players.
  8. Emotional Expression: Video games frequently explore different themes that can elicit emotional responses from players, increasing emotional awareness and promoting emotional expression in the real world.
  9. Community and Belonging: Online video games commonly co-exist with communities where people may feel more comfortable interacting in a more anonymous space, encouraging identity exploration in a safe space.
  10. Improved Concentration: Like the brains ability to adapt through neuroplasticity many videogames require extended durations of focus to be able to complete tasks, which can coincide with increased ability to focus in less interesting or engaging tasks outside of video games.

So, with all this in mind, how do we find the balance between a hobby that can also negatively impact our young person’s physical health, academic performance, and social relationships? Placing time limits on screen time to ensure that gaming doesn’t impact schoolwork, social obligations, and supporting young people to engage in physical activity. If these options are not having the desired outcome, it could be worthwhile talking to your GP to get a referral to a therapist who can educate and provide tools to the young person and family to best balance their screen time.

Interested in further individual support?

I invite you to contact us on 07 4637 9097 or to discuss our professional services and how we can assist you and/or the young people in your life to achieve your/their goals.

When contacting us to book your appointment, we recommend you request a 50min appointment with Psychologist Christopher Wright. Service provided and costs associated with these appointments are listed in the ‘Fees’ section of our website. You may also wish to discuss your concerns with your GP, and ask about your referral options and eligibility for Medicare’s Better Access Initiative, which provides partially funded Psychology appointments through Medicare. A valid GP Mental Health Care Plan referral is required for this.

Guiding the Stars of Tomorrow: Empowering Your Year 12 Student for Success and Beyond

Navigating the journey of guiding a young individual through their educational years is no small feat, especially as they stand on the cusp of adulthood. This brings us to the pivotal juncture known as year 12 – a phase fraught with uncertainty. Amidst identity exploration, cognitive growth, external influences, and a myriad of other variables, both the young person and those who support them find themselves entwined in a bewildering experience. A review article completed in 2019 highlighted the possible impacts of academic stress in end of schooling students, suggesting negative impacts in sleep, mental health, academic outcomes, and substance use outcomes (Pascoe et al., 2019).

In the forthcoming blog, our aim is clear: equipping you with valuable resources to effectively bolster the young people in your life, all the while ensuring your own well-being. Irrespective of the path they’re inclined to pursue—be it the academic route of ATAR, hands-on apprenticeships, early entry into the workforce, or even the intriguing realm of influencers—remember, it’s the strength of their support system that shapes their present and potentially forms their future.

With the increased pressure, uncertainty, and stress of this period; the following recommendations can be crucial in supporting the young people in our life:

  1. Open Communication: Maintaining an open and non-judgmental space. Let them know you want to listen and support them, both academically and emotionally. Ask them about their feelings, goals, and current concerns.
  2. Foster a Positive Environment: Create a supportive and positive atmosphere at home. Encourage healthy lifestyle routines through balanced meals, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep. This contributes to improved focus, memory, and overall well-being.
  3. Manage Expectations: Help your young person set realistic goals. Acknowledge their strengths and areas of improvement, showing that their worth is not purely determined by academic performance. Encourage them to do their best while accepting setbacks are a part of life and can also be opportunities.
  4. Time Management: Support your young person to develop effective time management skills. Help them create a schedule that balances any academic responsibilities (or other goal related responsibilities) with social and relaxation activities. Problem solve with them to break down large tasks to more manageable pieces to reduce the chance they become overwhelmed.
  5. Stress Management: Teach your young person stress-reduction methods such as deep-breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, or mindfulness exercises. Practice and utilise these methods yourself. If your person sees you practicing stress-reduction methods and the results, they may be more prepared to try them!
  6. Encourage Self-Care: Encourage your young person to pursue their interests outside of academia/work, such as activities relating to their hobbies, spending time with friends to serve as a healthy outlet of stress.
  7. Seek Professional Help: If you are concerned about your young person struggling significantly with anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns, consider visiting your local GP for recommendations for a therapist or counsellor. Our psychologists can provide specialist and individualised support for a variety of mental health concerns.
  8. Celebrate Achievements: Take the time to acknowledge and openly celebrate your young person’s achievements, no matter what it is. Openly recognising these efforts can improve their self-esteem and provide motivation to continue to do their best.
  9. Support Decision Making: Help your young person to explore their possibilities after school, without imposing your own preferences. Keep an open mind while exploring their strengths, interests, and potential career paths.
  10. Perspective Taking: Provide your young person the perspective that the final year of schooling is but one chapter in their life. Assure them that challenges and successes are part of personal growth and build resilience, and this growth will follow them throughout their whole life.

Every young person is unique, so modify the supports you provide based on their individual needs and personality. The key notes I would like people to think on is to prioritise maintaining a safe, nurturing environment, while encouraging independence and coping skills for the young people in our lives.

Interested in further individual support?

We invite you to contact us on 07 4637 9097 or to discuss our professional services and how we can assist you and/or the young people in your life to achieve your/their goals.

When contacting us to book your appointment to support your young person, we recommend you request a 50min appointment with Psychologist Christopher Wright. Service provided and costs associated with these appointments are listed in the ‘Fees’ section of our website. You may also wish to discuss your concerns with your GP and ask about your referral options and eligibility for Medicare’s Better Access Initiative, which provides partially funded Psychology appointments through Medicare. A valid GP Mental Health Care Plan referral is required for this.

The Brain Booster: How Beef Liver Enhances Your Mental Well-Being

Eating beef liver can offer several benefits for mental health due to its rich nutrient profile. It contains various essential nutrients that can positively impact brain function and emotional well-being. Here are some of the benefits of consuming beef liver for mental health:

1. Rich in Vitamin B12: Beef liver is one of the best dietary sources of vitamin B12, a crucial nutrient for neurological health. Vitamin B12 plays a vital role in the synthesis of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, which are involved in regulating mood and emotions. Adequate levels of vitamin B12 can help improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

2. High in Folate (Vitamin B9): Folate is essential for brain function and the production of neurotransmitters. It is involved in the synthesis of serotonin, which helps regulate mood and sleep. Consuming beef liver can contribute to maintaining healthy levels of folate in the body, supporting mental well-being.

3. Excellent Source of Iron: Iron deficiency can lead to cognitive impairment, fatigue, and even mood disturbances. Beef liver is a highly concentrated source of iron, which is essential for transporting oxygen to the brain and body. Ensuring sufficient iron intake can help maintain mental alertness and overall cognitive function.

4. Abundance of Vitamin A: Vitamin A plays a role in maintaining the health of the nervous system and supporting vision. Proper nerve function is crucial for optimal brain health and mental clarity.

5. Provides Choline: Choline is a nutrient that supports brain health and is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is involved in memory and cognitive function. Beef liver contains choline, contributing to cognitive support.

6. Nutrient-Dense Superfood: Beef liver is considered a nutrient-dense superfood as it contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals necessary for overall health. A well-nourished body is better equipped to handle stress and maintain emotional balance.

It’s important to note that while beef liver offers these mental health benefits, it should be consumed in moderation due to its high vitamin A content. Excessive vitamin A intake can lead to toxicity, so it’s best to enjoy beef liver as part of a varied and balanced diet.

As a general rule for adults, a 140gram serve of cooked beef liver eaten once a week as part of a balanced diet is considered as befificial and consumed in moderation.

As always, individual nutritional needs vary, and if you have specific health concerns or conditions, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian to determine the most appropriate dietary choices for your mental and overall well-being.

Simple Recipe – Cooked Beef Liver

For best taste and texture, soak beef liver in milk for at least an hour, then rinse off and pat dry before cooking. Preparing beef liver in this manner removes the bitter taste, draws off any impurities and tenderises the meat.


  • 300g Sliced grass-fed, organic beef liver
  • juice of 1-2 lemons or 3/4 cup of milk
  • 1/4 cup unbleached flour (or gluten free flour)
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 T olive oil


  1. Marinate liver slices in lemon juice (or milk) for at least an hour, or overnight.
  2. Rinse off, then pat the liver slices dry.
  3. Dredge in a mixture of flour, salt and pepper.
  4. Saute over high heat.
  5. Transfer to a thermoserver or simliar to keep warm until ready to eat.

Nourishing Your Mind: The Role of Nutrition in Mental Health

At Thrive Wellness, we firmly believe in the profound impact that nutrition can have on our emotional well-being. In this article, we’ll delve into the essential connection between what we eat and our mental health, uncovering the power of proper nutrition in nourishing not only our bodies but also our minds.

The Mind-Gut Connection

It is often said that the gut is our “second brain.” This is because of the intricate communication between the gut and the brain, known as the gut-brain axis. The foods we consume play a significant role in this connection, influencing our mood, emotions, and even cognitive function.

Key Nutrients for Mental Health

  1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Found in fatty fish (e.g., salmon, mackerel, and sardines), flaxseeds, and walnuts, omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain health. They can help reduce inflammation in the brain and improve neurotransmitter function, potentially alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  2. Antioxidants: Foods rich in antioxidants, such as fruits (e.g., berries, oranges) and vegetables (e.g., spinach, kale), protect the brain from oxidative stress. Antioxidants help combat free radicals, which can contribute to mental health issues.
  3. Probiotics: A healthy gut microbiome is vital for overall well-being. Probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, and fermented vegetables support gut health, potentially influencing brain function and reducing symptoms of stress and anxiety.
  4. Prebiotics: Prebiotics are dietary fibers that feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut, helping them thrive. Foods like garlic, onions, bananas, and asparagus are excellent sources of prebiotics. By promoting a diverse and healthy gut microbiome, prebiotics can positively impact mental health and emotional balance.
  5. B Vitamins: B vitamins (B6, B9, B12) are crucial for brain health and the production of neurotransmitters that regulate mood. Sources include whole grains, leafy greens, eggs, and lean meats.
  6. Magnesium: Magnesium is essential for relaxation and managing stress. Nuts, seeds, whole grains, and leafy greens are excellent sources of this mineral.
  7. Complex Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates have a direct impact on serotonin production, a neurotransmitter associated with mood regulation. Opt for whole grains, legumes, and fruits to support stable blood sugar levels and mood.

The Impact of Processed Foods

While it’s essential to focus on nutrient-dense foods, it’s equally important to limit the consumption of processed and sugary foods. These can lead to blood sugar spikes and crashes, impacting mood and energy levels negatively.

Personalised Nutrition and Mental Health

Each person’s nutritional needs are unique. Factors such as age, gender, lifestyle, and existing health conditions play a role in determining what diet is best for mental well-being. Consulting with a qualified healthcare professional can provide personalised guidance based on individual needs.

The Importance of a Balanced Diet

Creating a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods is key to promoting mental health. Remember to:

  • Incorporate a colorful array of fruits and vegetables into your meals.
  • Choose lean proteins like poultry, fish, and legumes.
  • Eat a serve of beef liver monthly.
  • Opt for whole grains over refined grains.
  • Stay hydrated with water and limit the consumption of sugary beverages.
  • Minimise alcohol and caffeine intake, as they can impact sleep and mood.
  • When shopping, where possible, choose pasture-raised meats, and no-spray or low-spray fruit, veges and grains.

Taking charge of your mental health begins with nurturing your body with the right nutrients. As you’ve learned, the mind-gut connection plays a vital role in influencing our mood and emotions. At Thrive Wellness, our Clinical Nutritionist is dedicated to supporting your well-being through specialised gut microbiome, nutrigenomic and other science based pathology investigations, and mental health nutrition consultations.

Good nutrition is just one piece of the puzzle. Engaging in regular physical activity, managing stress, and seeking support from mental health professionals are all crucial aspects of maintaining a healthy mind.

If you’re ready to embark on a personalised journey towards a happier, more balanced life, we invite you to book an appointment with our Clinical Nutritionist. They will guide you through understanding your unique nutritional needs and how they can optimise your mental health.

We’re here to support you every step of the way. We invite you to work with us to nourish your mind and nurture your soul. Contact us to book your appointment and embark on a transformative path to a healthier, happier you.

Menstruation – the good, the bad, and the ugly

Femininity is beautiful. Along with our curves, intuition, nurturing souls and strength, we are blessed to be bearers of the wombs from which all human life begins in this world. Every human alive today, begun life in the womb of their mother. Regardless of whether a woman bears children, or how many she bears in her lifetime, there is a special process her body goes through each month to prepare for this potential event. Each step in this process, signalled by hormones, ideally occurs without interrupting, or negatively impacting, a woman’s daily activities. Unfortunately, however, this is not the experience for all women. For some, menstruation is a heavy burden and the monthly reminder of this life-giving cycle is most un-welcomed.

Understanding the menstrual cycle…

The menstrual cycle can be divided into stages – the first stage, known as the ‘follicular phase’, orchestrates the release of the egg and begins preparing a cosy cushion of lining for the egg to take lodging in, should it become fertilised. The second stage, known as the ‘luteal phase’ continues building up the comfy cushion wall and watches for the signal a fertilised egg has arrived. If a fertilised egg arrives, a special glue sticks the egg to the cosy cushion lining, where it is nurtured and grows into a little person over the ensuing 9 months. If, however, a fertilised egg does not arrive, the cushion wall is deconstructed and the materials that formed it are removed from the body – this is known as menstruation, or a woman’s ‘period’.

Wikipedia link for more information:

Introducing PMS… when being a woman becomes unpleasant

Premenstrual symptoms are the changes in mood, behavioural and physical health that some women experience prior to menstruation. Common symptoms include breast tenderness, abdominal bloating, food cravings (how often have you reached for chocolate pre-menstruation!) depression, and anxiety. Symptoms diminish after menstruation but come back again the following month, as the woman’s body prepares itself yet again for the prospective arrival of a fertilised egg.

Commonly, 90% of women experience at least one premenstrual symptom at some stage during their childbearing years, and for most of these women, symptoms are minor, non-disruptive and nothing more than a quiet reminder of the life-giving process going on deep within their body.

And PMDD… most unpleasant

Approximately 30% of women experience more than one premenstrual symptom, at an intensity or frequency that is unpleasant and somewhat disrupting to their daily lives.

Of these women, 5-8% experience moderate to severe symptoms that cause significant distress and functional impairment, interfering with their ability to go about their daily activities, and leading them to seek treatment.

Premenstrual Dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is what practitioners call this most severe form of PMS. It is a disorder classified in the DSM-5, and able to be diagnosed by Psychologists, who can also provide treatment to support reduction in symptoms and severity. You can see a Psychologist as a private patient or speak to your GP about getting a referral – it’s recommended you call and inquire after a Psychologist with experience seeing PMS/PMDD patients, as not all are.

At our practice, we recommend Psychologist Michelle Nolan.

If you would like additional diet, exercise and supplement support, our Exercise Physiologist and Clinical Nutritionist, Felicia McQueen can support you. You may choose to see one practitioner only, however if you choose to see both, we will work collaboratively with you as a team to address your concerns and help you achieve your goals.

Reducing your risk for developing PMS/PMDD

Although imbalances in the steroidal hormones progesterone and estrogen were once believed to be the cause of PMS/PMDD, hormone therapy has been shown to be ineffective for symptom resolution in many cases. Despite ongoing, rigorous research, scientists have not yet been able to identify the pathophysiological cause and effect of PMS & PMDD. They do however have several theories, and thus far have identified four proven risk factors associated with its development.

The four proven physical, environmental, and psychological risk factors associated with the development of PMS/PMDD are:

  1. Cigarette smoking – if you smoke or have previously smoked (especially if you began smoking during your teenage years), you have an elevated risk for moderate to severe PMS symptoms. Risk for developing PMS increases with the number of cigarettes you smoke.
  • Obesity – For every kg/m2 you are above a healthy BMI, your chance of getting PMS rises by 3%.
  • Past traumatic events – although the underlying mechanism is unknown, experiencing a traumatic event increases your risk for PMDD.
  • Anxiety – if you have a pre-existing anxiety disorder, you’re at increased risk for developing PMDD.

Reducing your existing PMS/PMDD symptoms…

Addressing the above risk factors has proven to be successful in reducing symptoms, improving function and restoring quality of life.

If you are overweight, our Clinical Nutritionist and Exercise Physiologist can review your dietary and lifestyle practices, help you develop a plan and provide support to achieve your weight loss goals.

Psychological interventions such as trauma-focused therapy, EMDR, CBT, ACT, are utilised by our Psychologists in an individually tailored course of therapy to reduce your anxiety and psychological symptoms, and improve your coping skills, mental health and wellbeing.

For support in cessation of smoking – we recommend talking to your GP, Psychologist, Nutritionist and your other treating Health practitioner team about your decision to stop smoking – to put together a plan and support network to help you achieve your goal. The Australian government have put together a resource guide to stop smoking: There’s also handy apps available to track your progress and provide support from this US government site:

Stepping forward to a more comfortable you…

We invite you to contact us on 07 4637 9097 or to discuss our professional services and how we can assist you to achieve your goals. Although we are based in Toowoomba, we provide support to women Australia-wide through video and telephone consultations.

When contacting us to book your appointment, we recommend you request a 50min appointment with Psychologist Michelle Nolan, and a separate appointment with Clinical Nutritionist & Exercise Physiologist, Felicia McQueen. Service provided and costs associated with these appointments are listed in the ‘Fees’ section of our website. You may also wish to discuss your concerns with your GP, and ask about your referral options and eligibility for Medicare’s Better Access Initiative, which provides partially funded Psychology appointments through Medicare. A valid GP Mental Health Care Plan referral is required for this.

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