New Study Offers Hope To Opioid Addicts

The neurotransmitter Dopamine and its brain functions have long been associated with addictive behavior. A new neuroimaging study recently published in the peer-reviewed PLOSONE Journal (Public Library of Science PLOS) revealed promise for combating devastating problems related to all addictive behaviors, including opioid dependence, through the utilization of a Pro-Dopaminergic agent. Authors Marcelo Febo, Kenneth Blum, Rajendra D. Badgaiyan, Mark Gold and seven other experts in the neuroscience and addiction medicine believe their discovery can have a positive impact on the opioid epidemic.

These scientists reported that they may have found a novel way to balance and selectively activate important dopamine reward circuitry pathways in the brain. Their study presents the first robust evidence showing that a putative dopamine agonist nutraceutical (KB220Z) significantly activates, above placebo, seed Regions of Interest (ROI) in the brain involved with abarrant craving behaviors, poor decision making, relapse, drug abuse –reinstatement, cognitive decline, reduced motivation and high drug-seeking rates.

Surprisingly, not only did the investigators find significant functional connectivity, increased brain connectivity volume recruitment (potentially neuroplasticity), and dopaminergic functionality were found across the brain reward circuitry. In simple terms the agent KB220z, seemed to also increase neuronal firing across important reward brain regions. Data mining suggested that increases in functional connectivity were specific to reward processing regions and were not broadly diffuse across the brain.

It is noteworthy, that reduced resting state functional connectivity (as observed in heroin and cocaine dependence), has been shown by many neuroscientists especially Eliot Stein of NIDA, to be a hallmark for increased risk for Substance Use Disorder (SUD).  

According to the lead author Dr. Marcelo Febo, Assistant Professor at the McKnight Brain Institute, University of Florida; ”While these initial findings have been observed in drug naïve rodents, this robust, yet selective response implies clinical relevance for addicted individuals at risk for relapse, who show reductions in functional connectivity after protracted withdrawal. In the case of heroin addicts these impaired brain dysfunctions may take upward 3 years before the “normal” brain function returns.  Future studies will evaluate KB220Z in animal models of addiction.”

KB220Z is a patented formulation of amino acids designed specifically for addiction recovery. It is the “brain child” of Dr. Kenneth Blum, a co-author of the study. Dr. Blum along with others developed KB220 over a 50 year period utilizing standard scientific investigation resulting in many variations and boasting over 30 clinical trials published in both animals and humans. Blum’s group also found similar evidence to the current rat study in abstinent Chinese heroin addicts. Specifically they reported that KB220Z induced an increase in BOLD activation of dopamine in caudate-accumbens-dopaminergic pathways compared to placebo following 1-hour acute administration. They observed that three brain regions of interest were significantly activated from resting state by KB220Z compared to placebo.  Increased functional connectivity was observed in a putative network that included the dorsal anterior cingulate, medial frontal gyrus, nucleus accumbens, posterior cingulate, occipital cortical areas, and cerebellum.   

Dr. Panayotis K. Thanos, a co-author and senior research scientist and Associate Professor at the University of Buffalo pointed out that; “Dr. Willuhn of Washington University in Seattle, reported that cocaine use and even non-substance-related addictive behavior increases as dopaminergic function is reduced. In fact, chronic cocaine exposure has been associated with decreases in D2/D3 receptors and was also associated with lower activation of cues in occipital cortex and cerebellum (now shown to be linked to reward processing) , in a PET study by Volkow’s group”.   

Dr. Gold further suggested that this current neuroimaging study coupled with other recent studies, provided impetus to perform additional research focused on; “Treatment strategies, like dopamine agonist therapy, that might conserve dopamine function may be an interesting approach to relapse prevention in psychoactive drug and behavioral addictions”.

Dr. David Baron,  a co-author and Director of Sports Psychiatry in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurosurgery, when asked about the clinical implications suggested – “Although the short-lived amino acids in KB220Z metabolize within 4 hours, the discovery that KB220Z increases functional connectivity has enormous implications for treatment of psychiatric conditions like Reward Deficiency Syndrome. The diagnostic use of MRI to measure resting-state functional connectivity and volume supports the idea that baseline connectivity and neuroplasticity may be re-established by administration of KB220Z.”

Since KB220z is a nutraceutical it has been utilized in a number of clinics across the United States. One such user of the product from the Shores Treatment and Recovery Center, Lyle Fried Clinical Program Director, stated; “Most clients report feelings of less stress and say they have greater overall sense of well-being. Many of our staff take it as well and they report felling less irrtable, less stressed and more focused.”

Understanding the need for novel treatment John Giordano a co -author of the study cautiously suggested that the idea – baseline connectivity and neuroplasticity may be re-established – deserves further investigation and if confirmed may redeem joy in the global multitude afflicted by not only reward deficiency addictive behaviors but opioid addiction as well.

This discovery gives the hope of a better life to all of those struggling with addiction. KB220Z addresses the source of addiction in the brain’s chemistry and not the symptoms such as drug abuse, alcoholism, sex, gambling, food and even digital addictions. This patented amino acid therapy that is produced in a FDA compliant facility helps promote optimal dopamine function; normalize satiety and pleasure satisfaction from normally enjoyable activities and experiences. It improves energy regulation, reduce stress, promote well-being, and increase feelings of happiness. The rich history of 30 animal and human clinical trials has consistently shown KB220Z to reduce or eliminate excessive desires for unhealthy behaviors and pleasure-inducing substances.

You can fine the complete study, “KB220Z a Pro-Dopaminergic Agent Enhanced Resting State Functional Connectivity and Connectivity Volume in Naïve Rodents,” at
Dr. Blum is available for interviews.

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Joe Ullrich


Kenneth Blum, B.Sc. (Pharmacy), M.Sc., Ph.D. & DHL; received his Ph.D. in Neuropharmacology from New York Medical College and graduated from Columbia University and New Jersey College of Medicine. He also received a doctor of humane letters from Saint Martin’s University Lacey, WA. He has published more than 550 abstracts; peer-reviewed articles and 14-books. Dr. Blum has been the recipient of many NIH grants and numerous awards including the prestigious Life-Time Achievement in Addiction Medicine from The Holistic Institute of Addiction Studies and The Presidential Award for Scientific Excellence from National Council of Alcohol & Drug Abuse Councilors.

Blum is the CO and Editor in Chief of “Addiction Genetics.”  Currently, Dr. Blum is serving as Editor-In-Chief of “Journal of Reward Deficiency Syndrome” and co-Editor-In-Chief of “Journal of Neuroimaging in Psychiatry and Neurology” and is on 7 prestigious journal editorial boards. Prof. Blum is also a founder President of USG and founder President of USG Editors Association (USGEA). Dr. Blum is the recipient of Julius Axelrod (Nobel Laureate) Distinguished Speaker Award.

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