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The Roman author Lucretius wrote in De Rerum Natura “what is food to one person may be bitter poison to others”.
This blog addresses that sentiment in the context of biochemical individuality.

Individual differences in physiology, anatomy, metabolism, environmental exposures (epigenetics) influence the manifestation of health (Williams, 1998). What maintains or restores health in one person may be the proverbial ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ for another.  Forty years in the helping and healing profession have taught me, more often by error than by wit, that each person’s nutritional needs and environmental requirements are unique – like the snowflake is unique so to is the biochemistry of an individual.

First take a moment to ponder the fact that there are 37 billion to the billionth biochemical reactions per second occurring in each cell of an estimated 15 to 70 trillion[1] cells that make up the human body (Matus, 2017). . . . . . ponder, ponder, ponder more yet, keep pondering . . . . .

Did that pondering take you into the infinite realm? Hopefully, because then you will have touched the hem of the holy mystery of our cellular biology. Having touched that mystery, one then realizes how astronomically arrogant it is for any anyone to say to an individual, “I know just what—diet, medicine, spiritual practice, food, and etcetera—that you need to be well or to stay well. Our inability to solidly grasp the infinite realm of our biochemistry, is demonstrated by the history of the healing sciences that repeatedly proves its own errors in understanding—what was thought to heal yesterday is understood as an erroneous and even damaging practice today. Perhaps the only thing we know for sure is that a baby at its mother’s breast is probably better than not; that less medical technology and human interference frequently yields a better health outcome. Even the most advanced understanding of cellular biochemistry falls far short of mapping and tracking all the possible biochemical reactions, let alone understanding them meaningfully or utilizing them appropriately. Of course, many biochemists are having fun doing awesome research and even earning a living—so we honor them but let us keep their pedestal closer to earth.

Now–back to earth from the infinite realm. When a person asks us for healing help, I suggest we start with a humble acknowledgement that due to biochemical individuality we can only approximate a useful and helpful suggestion as to what heals or maintains health. Lean into your knowledge, experience, intuition and how we are informed by the field[2];  do some extensive detective work to find out where things got tangled up.  Learn as much as possible about the person’s physical and psychological history—body-mind-soul—which cannot be separated. In practical terms, that means find out what is happening with respect to gut health, endocrine health, explore with the person what medicines, diets, lifestyles, activities, and etcetera they have found useful or harmful.  I ask the question, “When did you last feel well, and what was happening in your life at the time”. If they are willing ask them to write a narrative about their health, mental or physical. Try the former suggestions and you will be astounded at what you learn. Also, if you have the skill explore the psycho-social and spiritual influences in their life—what has helpful or harmful. What are their dreams? Their fantasies? Resist the temptation to assume that you know what is best and try to listen deeply to the person to see what they know. Sometimes a Paleo Diet is helpful, sometimes more prayer and meditation – check your assumptions as a helping professional against the reality of the individual and their biochemistry as it manifests in a plethora of ways.


Williams, Roger J. (1956/1998) Biochemical Individuality: The Basis for the Genotrophic Concept. University of Texas Austin

A Super Brief and Basic Explanation of Epigenetics for Total Beginners (July 30, 2018)  Accessed March 5, 2019.

Matus, G. (2017) Thyroid, Thyroid, Thyroid. In. Justisse FAE Conference. August 23 to 27. Nanaimo, BC, Canada

Murray, Michael T. What is Biochemical Individuality?  Accessed March 5, 2019.

American Nutrition Association. (2000) Biochemical Individuality and Nutrition. Nutrition Digest (Vol. 38, No. 2)  Accessed March 5, 2019.

Neustadt, John Neustadt; Pieczenik,  Steve. (2007). Biochemical Individuality: Research Review. Integrative Medicine (Vol 6, No 3) Jun/Jul  Accessed March 5, 2019.


[1] There are 37.2 Trillion Cells in Your Body. See how that very difficult calculation is made.  Accessed March 5, 2019.

[2] ‘Informed by the field’ refers to how I pay attention to somatic responses, imaginations, emotions and other subtle manifestations of the unconscious influences that appear as a result of the interaction with the other.