Burgundy Bug’s Writing Portfolio
Writing PortfolioA compilation highlighting some of Burgundy Bug's most impactful articles on The Burgundy Zine.
NoteThis is not a full list of posts published by Burgundy Bug, nor is Burgundy Bug's work exclusive to The Burgundy Zine. For more examples of her work outside of The Burgundy Zine, please contact her.
5-HT2A: From Psychedelics to Psychiatry
Jan. 6, 2021
“Serotonin” (5-HT) is more than just a buzzword tossed around by Gen Z and Millennials when something benign boosts their mood.
The beloved hormone has an array of functions throughout the body, with seven types of receptors nestled in your brain and peripheral organs. Each of these receptors has subtypes with labels A through D, as well.
But there’s one serotonin receptor that’s often shrouded in mystery and intrigue — the 5-HT2A receptor. This is the serotonin receptor infamous for its role in the psychedelic experience.
But there’s hardly any discussion of its functions beyond its role in tripping your face off and how that’s tied to your mental health.
What is the Solar Cycle?
Sept. 14, 2020
So, you’ve heard of the water cycle, the menstrual cycle, bicycles… But have you heard of the solar cycle?
The sun — a “huge ball of electrically-charged gases” — has a magnetic field that completely flips roughly every eleven years, according to NASA.
This affects the activity taking place on the surface of the sun, either causing more or fewer sunspots to appear. Researchers use the number of sunspots to track the solar cycle and create forecasts for the future.
NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have joined forces to host a teleconference where they’ll discuss predictions about the upcoming solar cycle tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. (EDT).
September is National Honey Month
Sept. 2, 2020
As sunflowers put on a show for us this month, it’s also important to pay homage to another black and yellow marvel of nature: bees.
September is National Honey Month, a time in which we honor the byproduct of the five-eyed, six-legged, insects that have soared through our skies at 20mph for the last 30 million years.
Bee pollination adds approximately 14 billion dollars to improved crop yield and quality annually in the United States, according to NASA. And while we all know the “BEES ARE DYING,” which will inevitably wreak havoc on agricultural output, did you know that honey may have played a critical role in human evolution?
An Abbreviated History of Neuroscience
Aug. 25, 2020
Ah, neuroscience, the study of the squishy, slimy, three-pound computer that rests between our ears. Although the brain is the most complex organ in the body (or as a Trends in Cognitive Sciences Journal review aptly put it, “one of the most complex multicellular structures in biology”), neuroscience itself is only a mere 55 years old.
That’s right — the study of the brain, this omnipotent, protein and fat blob of soft tissue, is probably much younger than your grandparents.
However, that’s not to say humans didn’t attempt to study the brain prior to 1965. There were certainly gallant efforts to make sense of the inner workings of the human mind, arguably starting with some of the greatest ancient philosophers, artists, authors, and poets.
Why Did Some Dinosaurs Have Cancer?
Aug. 19, 2020
Cancer, one of the leading causes of death worldwide, appears to have afflicted the ferocious beasts the roamed the Earth with our prehistoric ancestors.
Earlier this month, research published in The Lancet Oncology Journal diagnosed a dinosaur with bone cancer. And this isn’t the first time researchers have made such a diagnosis based on dinosaur fossils.
Last year, National Geographic reported on a “ridiculously rare” form of bone cancer found in the hind leg of a 240-million-year-old turtle.
According to the Journal of American Medical Association study, the prognosis was remarkably similar to the type of bone cancer doctors see in human patients today.
AI Joins the Fight Against COVID-19
Aug. 13, 2020
Last week, the National Institutes of Health announced that AI technology is underway to aid physicians across the United States in the global war against COVID-19.
These efforts are taking place with the Medical Imaging and Data Resource Center, which is comprised of research from physicists, physicians, radiologists, and scientists across the country.
Together, they’re developing AI algorithms to help physicians diagnose COVID-19 and develop “personalized therapies” for their patients. This technology will use medical imaging to detect the virus and utilize clinical data to support its findings, as well.
Recently, we spoke to NIBIB/NIH Director of Research Sciences Krishna Kandarpa, M.D., P.h.D. via email to learn more about the development of this technology and how it could impact the future of radiology.
Are You Vegan? Are You Getting Enough Vitamin B-12?
Aug. 4, 2020
Regardless of how long you’ve been vegan for, “How do you get protein?” is often one of the first things people ask you about your diet.
In fact, you may have rolled your eyes and started rattling off plant-based protein options as you read that last paragraph.
But when was the last time someone asked you, “How do you get vitamin B-12?” — I mean, you primarily sustain yourself off of fruits and vegetables, which are brimming with vitamins and minerals… You couldn’t possibly have a vitamin deficiency… Could you?
Perseverance Has Reached the Stars, Seven Months Until it Hits Mars
July 31, 2020
Mars Perseverance blasted off along with NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter aboard the Atlas V-541 rocket from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla at 7:50 a.m. (EDT). The two are expected to arrive on Mars’ Jezero Crater around Feb. 18, 2021.
According to a recent NASA press release, scientists have selected Jezero Crater for the landing site because scientists believe it was once home to an ancient river delta over 3.5 billion years ago.
Perseverance and Ingenuity aren’t the only ones headed towards the Red Planet, either. Just last week, China and the United Arab Emirates launched their first Mars Rovers, too.
Burping and Belching: How the Hell Do You Make it Stop!?
July 11, 2020
Listen, we all get gas trapped in our stomachs or upper gastrointestinal tract from time to time. Burping is simply a part of the human experience.
But if your conversations are regularly interrupted by little squeaks or ogrish growls that rattle around your rib cage before flinging themselves of your mouth, it may be time to change up your lifestyle habits.
Excess burping could also be a sign of an underlying condition, like a gastrointestinal disorder.
Happy National Clean Beaches Week – Don’t Forget to Wear Your Mask!
July 1, 2020
Americans nationwide are flocking to beaches in droves as states ease their way into the green phase of the coronavirus pandemic.
While some may feel life is slowly “returning to normal,” other states have just begun to feel the full wrath of COVID-19.
In addition to raising our environmental awareness for National Clean Beaches Week, let’s not forget that we’re still amidst a global pandemic. We encourage you to spread information about making your day trips to the coast as safe as possible.
Can Caffeine Decrease Productivity?
June 26, 2020
Pulling all-nighters to finish your homework, finals, work presentations. We’ve all been there – and we’re usually not alone during these late-night escapades. You’re probably accompanied by a good ol’ cup of coffee. Or perhaps some tea, a soda, an energy drink. Pick your poison.
After all, there’s nothing quite like a caffeine buzz. It’s notorious for getting you through long nights, Monday mornings, and hangovers.
But there’s a point at which too much caffeine begins having a paradoxical effect. Rather than a surge of productivity coursing through veins as you down yet another cup of coffee, research shows it may actually decrease your productivity.
Social Robots: The Cure to Quarantine Loneliness
June 19, 2020
Have months of quarantine left you longing for social interaction? Look no further. Social robots are on their way.
Who needs human friends, anyways? They disappoint us.
Hooked on Hot Sauce… For Your Health
June 10, 2020
Holy hot sauce and jalapeños, are you aware of all the health benefits associated with spicy foods? Probably not.
Contrary to popular belief, spicy food doesn’t cause ulcers – it may actually cure them. Additional health benefits associated with the heat include pain relief, a boost to your metabolism, improved heart health, and cancer-suppression.
Think With Your Gut
June 6, 2020
Our bodies are essentially an apartment complex for 100 trillion micro bacteria that have found a home within our intestines.
Before you start writing up an eviction notice, it’s worth noting just how much we – and every other organism with a digestive system – depend on gut microbiota.
Recent research shows gut microbiota influence our mood, behavior, and neurodevelopment. While it may seem these microscopic critters run our lives, the gut microbiome is largely influenced by environmental factors including diet, stress, geography, and age, among others.
Instead of accusing your gut microbiota of being bad tenants, ask yourself: “Have I been a good landlord? What are they trying to tell me?
Learn to think with your gut, not against it.”
African Violets: A Horticulturist’s Mutant Paradise
May 20, 2020
With showy blossoms ranging from blue to burgundy and white to green, it’s no wonder the African violet (Saintpaulia Ionantha) is among the most popular houseplants across the world.
When gazing upon these vibrant, vivacious “violets” with their pinwheel stripes or “fantasy speckles,” one can’t help but wonder, “How the hell did we get here?”
The answer lies in almost a century of hybridization, accented and accelerated by a few decades of chemical mutagens and radiation, according to a 2017 Folia Horticulturae review.
Mycelium: Man’s Unexpected Best Friend
May 18, 2020
Red speckles and poofy, majestical shapes that appear to be pulled straight from a fairy tale are most likely at the forefront of your mind when you think of mushrooms – or, perhaps, some colorful, swirly-whirly imagery and “hippie babble” come to mind.
But there’s far more to mushrooms than meets the eye. Mycelium, the vegetative part of fungi that forms during the hyphae growth stage of mushrooms, has piqued the interests of researchers around the globe.
In recent years, scientists have put mycelium under the microscope due to its physical strength and pharmacological properties. This has opened the floodgates for mycelia to serve as a natural construction compound for building houses or creating new medicines.
Is Greenland Okay?
May 13, 2020
To put this into perspective, a gigatonne is 1,000,000,000 metric tons, and a metric ton is equal to 1.10231 US tons. 300gt is roughly 330.7 billion US tons. Here, try out the conversion for yourself. We’ll wait.
However, last year was only the seventh-worst year for ice melt in Greenland. Data from the NSIDC shows 2012 had the highest ice melt, but melt had significantly decreased by 2013 – that isn’t to say conditions weren’t a cause for concern, but they had “chilled out” in comparison to 2012.
So, is there a chance 2020 might spare a little mercy towards Greenland? Well…
Climate Change: Do You Need to See it To Believe It?
May 11, 2020
Bodies of water dry up before our eyes. Temperatures rise and the heat grazes our skin. We hear the calls of stray wildlife forced out of their natural homes by land development in our backyards. We can smell toxic pollutants and have learned to idolize “fresh air.” Contaminants slither into our rivers and we ingest them through dishes of fish delicacies.
Climate change is happening all around us, and yet, many individuals surveyed during the 2012 to 2016 California droughts felt the situation and climate change were a “distant” problem that didn’t directly affect them.
“Even in more directly affected places, there was often reference to the drought having a greater impact ‘elsewhere’ in the State,” the study explains.
Bug’s Philosophy: Attitudes Towards the Media
May 9, 2020
While reading a research paper on attitudes towards climate change in California during the 2012 to 2016 drought period, I can’t help but find myself struck by how the perception of the media is so conflicting across various communities – and how I, a patron of many different communities, find myself in the unspoken valley that lies at the foot of their rivaling precipices.
How Psychedelics Impact Personality and Creativity
April 15, 2020
It only takes a few milligrams of a naturally occurring compound – or even a just few micrograms on a sliver of paper – to open your mind to a vibrant swirl of creativity and long-lasting personality changes.
While psychedelics have shown efficacy in treating various mental health conditions including anxiety, treatment-resistant depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, they also carry the potential to help researchers further understand the interplay between various brain networks, says a 2018 Medical Hypothesis study.
What if a Natural Disaster Strikes During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
April 8, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic has rattled life as we once knew it, like an earthquake trembling society’s foundation… But if an actual earthquake, a hurricane, a tornado, or a tsunami were to hit right now, what would happen?
Last week, we reached out to various organizations including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, World Health Organization, and American Red Cross to find out what emergency response would look like during a pandemic.
The Ecological Cost of the Trump Border Wall
April 4, 2020
The “world’s most costly” border wall has a projected budget that extends beyond its dollar amount: the environmental and ecological costs.
If the Trump administration pursues a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, “there are species that will be completely extirpated from the United States,” said Sky Island Alliance program director Emily Burns during our recent interview.
Not to mention, the cement needed to create the border wall will require draining “hundreds of thousands of gallons of water that’s very precious down here in the southwest” from sensitive, local sources, she added.
Due to the environmental laws that have been waived to continue with the construction of the border wall, there’s no data that tells us how many species live within the region or how they could be impacted.
We spoke with Burns yesterday to learn more about the ecosystem in the U.S.-Mexico border region and learn more about the study.
Can You Stomach It? The Mysterious Relationship Between Psychedelics and Gut Health
March 16, 2020
By now, it’s no secret the brain and gut are in constant communication – and yet, there’s still an air of mystery shrowding the gut-brain axis.
So far, we know serotonin is central to gut-brain signaling. In fact, 90 percent of serotonin is synthesized in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, according to a 2016 Nutrients journal review.
Psychedelics, including psilocybin (a.k.a ‘shrooms’), LSD (a.k.a. ‘acid’), and DMT are serotonergic drugs that bind to the 5-HT2A receptor, says a 2018 World Psychiatric article. This is central to triggering the “psychedelic experience.”
Although research on psychedelics in mood, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders has been and currently is being heavily investigated, with a particular focus on serotonin, the impact of psychedelics on gut health remains largely untapped and under-researched.
Now that’s a head trip.
Love Thy Doctor: Recent Statistics Say Otherwise
March 9, 2020
Do you love your doctor, the health care specialist who you’re supposed to entrust with your life and wellbeing?
If you don’t, you’re not alone. A recent Vanguard Communications study shows that doctors are 72 percent more likely to receive a one-star review than lawyers.
Feb. 17, 2020
What do arctic ground squirrels and black bears have in common? They’re both among the many animals that hibernate.
Except, hibernation isn’t just a long nap through the cold, dreary winter months. It’s a highly-regulated form of energy conservation that impacts how the brain and body function, says Kelly Drew, a University of Alaska professor and CEO of Be Cool Pharmaceutics.
So, what can we learn from hibernation and what might happen if we humans were to give it a try?
Moonshrooms: How Fungi Could Shape Life on Mars
Jan. 17, 2020
NASA recently announced they’re exploring new, green ways to sustain human life in outer space through the help of our beloved fungal friends: mushrooms, or rather, their mycelia.
How Plants Think: The Controversy of Consciousness
Oct. 20, 2019
Unencumbered by words and semantics, plants express themselves through their luscious leaves and abundant blooms, which are the result of carefully calculated survival tactics that almost seem “thought out.”
These physical characteristics can tell human observers a lot about how the plant is doing; whether it needs more water or sunlight, warmth or humidity, and so forth – but, plants don’t have eyes like we do. They don’t have brains like ours, yet research shows they possess intelligence.
How far does that intelligence go? Do plants “think?”
How Dogs Think, Feel, and Communicate
Oct. 17, 2020
“BARK! BARK! BARK!” Neurons fire to one in another in the face of a feline, fire hydrant, mailman, or dog treat. “BAAAAAAARK,” neurons fire again as the owner walks out the door and leaves the canine behind for an eight-hour shift.
Dogs have been “man’s best friend” for thousands of years, reports a study published in Nature Communications – but, is man dog’s best friend? How do they regard human relationships? What do dogs think and feel? How do they communicate?
The Role of Serotonin in Your Daily Life
Oct. 14, 2019
Serotonin is a hormone associated with mood regulation and well-being, but its functions go far beyond that.
Countless research over the last few decades has linked serotonin to regulating stress, long-term memory recall, sleep, digestion, blood pressure, and body temperature.
The hormone has also been critical to furthering the understanding of various neurological, behavioral, and emotional conditions, such as depression and migraines.
What’s Beneath Greenland May Not Be so Green
Aug. 6, 2019
Greenland is a vast island adorned in an ice sheet that’s three times the size of Texas, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).
Although Greenland’s ice sheet has withstood the test of time over the last 2.7 million years, its increase in surface melt over the last few years is rapidly chipping away at the island’s 656,000 square mile blanket of ice.
What lies beneath the ice, and what lies in our future if these trends continue, is a future that is far from green (for us, at least).
Millennials Are Ghosting the Social Life and Burying Their Health, CVS Study Says
Aug. 2, 2019
Despite having the ability to message anyone around the globe instantly, millennials are choosing to ghost the social life at the small price of their health and wellbeing, according to the results of the Path to Better Health survey.
Why We’re Seeing More Beached Gray Whales
June 23, 2019
Gray whales are a speckled, 45-foot, 1,500-pound marine mammal that are native to the Pacific Ocean, according to the Marine Mammal Center.
This year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) declared an Unusual Mortality Event due to the increase in strandings, so we reached out to the NOAA to dive further into the issue.
Beetles Over Beef
March 21, 2019
Beetles. Caterpillars. Bees. Ants. Grasshoppers… Is your mouth watering yet? No? Well, it should be. Opting for beetles over beef may just save our planet.
What Happens to Your Brain When You’re in Love
Feb. 16, 2019
Your pupils dilate and a wave of euphoria washes over you. You are engulfed in a sense of calm, despite an increase in your heart rate. This is not a work of magic, no. This is your brain on love.
The Downfall of Department Stores
Jan. 14, 2019
The same department stores that shaped consumerism as we know it today are failing to evolve with the market. Big names such as Macy’s, J.C. Penney, and Sears have been forced to close their doors across the country. Not to mention their stocks haven’t been worth more than mere pocket change in years.
Who’s to blame? The brand or the consumer?
What to Expect During an Endoscopy
Jan. 7, 2019
An Upper Endoscopy, also referred to as an EGD, is a common medical procedure in which a small camera and light (known as an endoscope) are used to take a look at the upper gastrointestinal tract – your esophagus, stomach, as well as your small intestine.
The endoscopy may be performed by a Gastroenterologist, surgeon, and a number of other healthcare professionals.
Generally, an Upper Endoscopy is a routine measure in diagnosing and treating patients who are experiencing indigestion, difficulty swallowing, as well as unintentional weight loss.