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.

I’m drinking lots of water but can’t quench my thirst. Why?

What a heatwave!! (*pauses to wipe brow) Instinct has us reaching for water to quench our thirst, but for some of us, regardless of how much we drink, we remain thirsty. Why?

Did you know your body needs more than just water in order to hydrate? Specific minerals, called electrolytes – sodium, potassium and chloride especially – are necessary to hydration. While most people are aware their body is comprised 60% water, few realise the important role electrolytes (present in blood and other bodily fluids) play in enabling their body to hold onto and use the water they drink. Hydration is essential for healthy, happy cells, organs, hormones, brain health and absolutely everything!

So, in the midst of this heatwave, I thought I’d share this simple cocktail (and no, there’s no alcohol in this baby) to help you replenish lost sodium, potassium and chloride, as well as provide some wholefood Vitamin C, natural sugars and the plethora of nutrients, minerals and trace minerals found in oranges. This handy cocktail also serves as a balancing and restorative drink that supports your adrenals during times of stress, so feel free to mix up this delish cup of nourishment during the cooler months as well.

In terms of when to drink it, It’s best taken away from other food and drink. Ideally 10am and/or 2pm, but fit it in when you can. Please note that the cocktail is not a one-stop shop – meaning it’s absolutely not a replacement for water – you still need to drink plenty of quality, clean, mineral rich water throughout the day. The Electrolytes provided in this cocktail are only one part of the hydration puzzle – WATER still remains the major piece!

And of course, if you have any concerns about your health, or your Doctor has told you to restrict your sodium intake, please make an appointment to confirm this cocktail fits in with your specific health goals and wellness plan!


Orange Juice recipe:
• 120ml fresh squeezed Orange Juice
• ¼ tsp cream of tartar
• ¼ tsp sea salt (unrefined)
• *provides approx: 62mg whole food Vit C + 372mg potassium and 485mg sodium chloride

Coconut water recipe:
• 1 cup coconut water (ensure 375mg potassium, each brand different amounts)
• ¼ tsp sea salt
• 60mg wholefood vit c

Recipe for Travelling:
• ¾ tsp cream of tartar
• ¼ tsp sea salt
• ½ tsp wholefood vit c
• 120ml water

*All Adrenal Cocktails should provide approx 60mg wholefood vit C + 375mg potassium + 460mg sodium chloride.


Where Wholefood C is mentioned, I recommend Eden Healthfoods Wild C powder. Wild C contains a mixed blend of organic, wild berries and greens, dehydrated at low temperatures and ground into powder – using whole foods ensures necessary co-factors like bioflavonoids, and other vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients are available, making it both non-toxic and more bioavailable compared to isolated Vit C.

I made a lot of phone call enquiries to companies marketing different brands of wholefood C products in Australia – I was surprised at how many admitted to knowing nothing about how the raw ingredients had been grown or processed, or whether they’d been heated or frozen along the way! They simple bought in various powders, mixed them together and marketed their product. In contrast, Eden Healthfoods are passionate about delivering quality wholefood supplements from nature to home and answered every question I asked in detail!

They’ve offered to give 10% discount to our readers. Use the code THRIVE at checkout, or click here for it to be automatically applied.

With regards to sea salt, choose unrefined Celtic Sea Salt (white-ish grey colour) or Himalayan salt (pink). ‘Salt of the Earth’ is a Celtic Sea Salt brand our family loves and can be purchased from most Organic Grocery stores and Health Food shops.

If juicing your own oranges, remove skin and pips and blend in food processor or similar. If buying orange juice, source WHOLEFOOD juices without additives or preservatives – eg. Nudie brand “Nothing But Oranges” available at supermarkets.

Neuroplasticity in action

It’s likely that by now you have at least heard the term “neuroplasticity”. Our understanding of the human brain’s capacity to rewire itself has grown dramatically over the past few decades. We have written about it previously in our blog post Rewire your brain: neuroplasticity FTW!.

It’s one thing to hear about neuroplasticity. But it is something else altogether to see it in action. Today I stumbled across this youtube video:

There are lots of skills that are complex and difficult to master, for which the development of new neurological wiring through continual practice will be essential to mastery. But rarely do we see such a <em>dramatic</em> challenge to achieving the most rudimentary level of competence. Why is this bike so difficult to ride?  If we reversed the steering in a car people would very quickly be able to adjust. Anyone who has played a reasonable number of flight-simulating computer games will know how quickly that adjustment can occur, because a proportion of those games reverse the vertical control axis. Adjusting to that can be accomplished in hours. It took <em>eight months</em> for the presenter of this video to be able to ride this bike.

The challenge with reversed steering on a bike is that steering is not <em>only</em> used to control your direction, but constant small adjustments are made to maintain balance on the bike. With the steering reversed there is almost <em>no room for error</em> that would allow the brain to try an option, realise it is producing the wrong result and adjust accordingly. It is worse than learning to ride the <em>first</em> time because the brain is predisposed by existing wiring to select a set of motor responses that are the precise <em>opposite</em> of what are needed, amplifying any imbalance instead of correcting it.

…so the thing that amazes me most, watching this video, is that even under circumstances that are tremendously prejudiced to failure, the neuroplasticity of the brain makes success possible. What might your brain be capable of that may seem impossible to you today?

Bicycle leaning against a wall

“Bicycle” by fedeanimationCC BY 2.0

The Science on Mindfulness

Mindfulness forms an important part of a range of strategies we use at Thrive Wellness to facilitate psychological well-being. So far we have never written on the subject on our blog. Now, once again, the Radio National program All in the Mind has done a great job summarising what mindfulness is and the current state of the science on its usefulness. Also included are some good personal accounts of its benefits.

Have a listen to the program, or read the transcript, here: All in the Mind – On being mindful.

Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse - WA

Radio National program on Borderline Personality Disorder

The All in the Mind program on ABC’s Radio National recently aired a good segment on effective treatments for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Treatment is out there, and it works. To listen to the program, or read the transcript, follow the link here: Borderline personality disorder—what works?

On the program Catherine Bennett, formerly diagnosed with BPD, says the following:

BPD is not a choice, but recovery is. And like any mental illness, no one ever chooses to have a mental illness, but fighting for recovery, having a life worth living, that’s a choice. And making that choice is the first step.

If you would like to know more about BPD, you may also like to read Life on the Line – what is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Do you feel wise?

Have you ever noticed that many people are emotionist? This is a made-up word I am using here to refer to people being prejudiced against certain emotions. Some emotions are treated as acceptable – or even admirable – while others are treated as “bad” or “wrong”. Happiness is generally seen as something positive to aspire to, while anger, jealousy, fear and many times sadness are treated as though they are feelings that healthy people should not have. They are treated as feelings that you should eliminate as quickly as possible and it is even suggested that people should try to prevent them occurring in the first place.
Sad man crying in rain

Well, that is baloney. Every emotion exists for a reason. Continue reading

Motivation experiment days 19-21

On day 19 of my experiment with drawing every day and observing the effects on my motivation I again found myself without ideas for what to draw. Part of my commitment to this exercise from the outset had been that the important thing was to draw something each day, not to draw something “good” or “interesting” every day. So for day 19 I settled with drawing out a pattern in curving lines without too much thought, then adding a little colour:

Abstract swirling lines

Motivation experiment day 19 – drawn 9/05/2014

This was done very quickly. I didn’t like the result at all, but I’d stuck with my commitment to draw and was happy enough with that.
Continue reading