BIOCHEMICAL INDIVIDUALITY: THE POWER OF NUTRIENT THERAPY
The inspiration for the founding of NOHA sprang from a class given in 1972 by Barbara Sachsel on the challenging book, Nutrition Against Disease, by Roger J. Williams, PhD, which was published in 1971. He honored us by coming to NOHA’s Fifth Anniversary.
For many years Dr. Williams had been writing and lecturing about biochemical individuality: His book with that title was published in 1956. He explained and showed how the same organ—for instance a stomach—varies dramatically in size and shape in different people. We know how we all look different, except for identical twins.
. . . this vast variation actually applies to every aspect of our bodies—including our need for particular nutrients.
However, this vast variation actually applies to every aspect of our bodies—including our need for particular nutrients. Depending on their genetic makeup, some people can easily get too much of certain nutrients, whereas the so-called RDA (recommended dietary allowance) of other nutrients may be far too low for them to be anything but very sick. In spite of this, we hear recommendations all the time from writers on diet and from the government (for example, the diet pyramid) that one diet is great for everybody. All these years ago, Dr. Williams knew that these recommendations are wrong for most of us.
For our thirtieth anniversary celebration, we were honored to have for our speaker another researcher, who realizes the vital importance of biochemical individuality and the power of nutrient therapy, NOHA Professional Advisory Board Member William Walsh, PhD, who is now Chief Scientist at the Pfeiffer Treatment Center in Naperville, Illinois.
Depending on their genetic makeup, some people can easily get too much of certain nutrients, whereas the so-called RDA (recommended dietary allowance) of other nutrients may be far too low for them to be anything but very sick.
Dr. Walsh started his research on prevention of criminal violence over 30 years ago. For many years he was a scientist at Argonne National Laboratories. As a volunteer, he worked with criminals from the penitentiary. An interesting pattern became apparent in many of these criminals from studying their family history. Many came from the ideal “All American” family with a good father, a loving caring mother, and a good middle class home with at least two children. Most of the children would be “ideal,” make good grades at school, and have hardly any social problems at all, but there would be one obvious “problem child.” The parents could see differences in this one child as early as six months when, as an infant, it would push away from the mother. When only a toddler, it would torture, and often even murder the family pet. Later, after doing terribly in school and becoming a delinquent, this problem child would end up as a criminal and in jail. Why would only this one child develop problems, when all its siblings from the same environment, the same family, and eating the same foods, developed no problems whatsoever?
In those days, the parents (usually the mother) were blamed for the problems, since all the causes for such behavioral problems were assumed to be the environment in which the child was raised.
Later, after doing terribly in school and becoming a delinquent, this problem child would end up as a criminal and in jail. Why would only this one child develop problems, when all its siblings from the same environment, the same family, and eating the same foods, developed no problems whatsoever?
In 1974 a revolution was occurring in mental health. Prior to then, anyone with a mental problem was sent to a psychiatrist. Many studies were showing an inborn predisposition to problems. For example, “Bipolar” problems (elation and depression) were studied. The probability of being bipolar in the general population was 4%. If a member of a family was bipolar, the probability of another family member being bipolar jumped to 32%. This same 32% held for fraternal twins. However, in identical twins, if one was bipolar, there was over an 80% probability that the other was too. These studies suggested many definite brain/body chemical relationships.
Dr. Walsh started experimenting at Argonne National Laboratory with many criminals from the nearby penitentiary. With colleagues, they drew many blood and urine samples, but after one year they had no data of any value. One evening, Dr. Walsh happened to see on the bulletin board a notice about a talk titled, “Biochemical Individuality and Schizophrenia,” by NOHA Honorary Member Carl C. Pfeiffer, PhD, MD, whom he had never met. The lecture hall was jammed with standing room only, but Dr. Walsh was fascinated and intrigued with what Dr. Pfeiffer mentioned about his 20 years of research with schizophrenia patients. He had developed a huge body chemistry and brain chemistry data base. Of his patients, 90% fell into three definite classifications, each requiring a different nutrient therapy. Dr. Walsh had no chance of speaking directly with Dr. Pfeiffer after the crowded lecture, but did arrange to meet him the next day. Dr. Pfeiffer was quite interested in Dr. Walsh’s research on all the criminals and gave him a lot of encouragement. Pfeiffer’s key suggestion was for Dr. Walsh to look at trace metals.
During the many years that Dr. Walsh worked with Dr. Pfeiffer, he evaluated all of Dr. Walsh’s cases free-of-charge. In 1982, they founded the Health Research Institute. Several cases were found with extremely low or high copper levels. Many children with extreme metal imbalance would “explode” whenever they lost their temper.
After Dr. Walsh started measuring trace metals in the criminals, he did find many with very extreme levels. He then did an interesting double-blind study on 24 pairs of brothers. By choosing brothers, they automatically controlled for many variables, including parents, social and physical environment, as well as food. Great care was taken in selecting these sibling pairs. Basically, one was an “All American” boy and the other was a boy from hell. If the “All American” boys had gotten in a single fist fight, they were disqualified. After the double-blind results were decoded, this research showed that all the violent brothers had extreme levels of metals.
Dr. Walsh did a series of other experiments with good results that soon caught the attention of Dr. Pfeiffer, who asked Dr. Walsh to give a presentation of these results at Dr. Pfeiffer’s Annual Symposium in 1981. This research created quite a great stir in the medical community because the results were so sharp. Dr. Pfeiffer ran through all the ties between the extreme metal levels and his potential nutrient therapy.
After Dr. Walsh started measuring trace metals in the criminals, he did find many with very extreme levels.
During the many years that Dr. Walsh worked with Dr. Pfeiffer, he evaluated all of Dr. Walsh’s cases free-of-charge. In 1982, they founded the Health Research Institute. Several cases were found with extremely low or high copper levels. Many children with extreme metal imbalance would “explode” whenever they lost their temper. They found chemical as well as trace metal imbalances. Dr. Walsh and Dr. Pfeiffer would get together for only a couple of days to evaluate 50 cases at a time at either Dr. Pfeiffer’s laboratory in New Jersey or his home in Florida. Dr. Walsh greatly admired Dr. Pfeiffer. Even though Dr. Pfeiffer was 78 years old, on a given day he would keep going long after Dr. Walsh was exhausted and wanted to quit. Sixty-five percent of the patients reported good results.
For several years Dr. Pfeiffer had suggested that an outpatient clinic was needed in the Midwest. Finally, Dr. Walsh realized that Dr. Pfeiffer meant him. In 1989 Dr. Walsh quit his job at Argonne and started the Pfeiffer Clinic here. It is named after Dr. Pfeiffer because he died six months before it opened.
In many of the patients with behavior problems, learning problems were found as well. The nutrient therapy often improved scholastics dramatically.
In many of the patients with behavior problems, learning problems were found as well. The nutrient therapy often improved scholastics dramatically. They soon started testing other populations. Since it was founded, the Pfeiffer Clinic’s staff has grown from only three, to over sixty today.
They have conducted many outcome studies. Most doctors tend to hear only from their patients who obtained positive results. They hear nothing from the negative ones. Dr. Walsh went to considerable trouble to trace down all their past patients, negative as well as positive. He wanted to find out which treatments were not working as well as which ones were.
The Bad results included:
The Good News:
Dr. Walsh often receives calls from other doctors asking “what do you do?” He usually replied vitamins, amino acids, and more, but the doctors still ask “What did you use?” They are expecting some powerful drug or medication. As soon as most of them realize that he doesn’t use any, “a curtain descends over their brains” and they lose interest.
All the neurotransmitters and raw material for making the brain consist of simple, natural chemicals. Dr. Walsh has managed to make a few “medical converts,” who understand and appreciate what he is doing. The Pfeiffer Clinic has one of the best chemical databases in the world with over 12,000 behavior records. For example, they have records on 2,000 autistic patients, and 3,200 schizophrenics.
The most common chemical imbalances they encounter include the following:
This condition results in low levels of histamine and excessive levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These patients are prone to food and chemical sensitivities. Many persons, who suffer from anxiety along with depression, are over-methylated. These persons are also often overloaded in copper and methionine.
Many patients with obsessive-compulsive tendencies, oppositional-defiant disorder, or seasonal depression are under-methylated, which is associated with high histamine and low serotonin levels. They generally exhibit seasonal allergies, perfectionism, competitiveness, and other distinctive symptoms.
A common problem in ADHD, behavior disorders, autism, and hormonal depression is a genetic inability to control copper, zinc, manganese, and other trace metals in the body, due to improper functioning of the metallothionein protein.
A common feature of many behavioral and emotional disorders is pyroluria, an inborn error of pyrrole chemistry. This results in a dramatic deficiency of zinc, vitamin B-6, and arachidonic acid (an essential long-chain, omega-6 fatty acid).
Patients with this condition cannot tolerate large meals or quick sugars. This problem doesn’t appear to be the cause of behavior disorders, depression, etc., but instead is an aggravating factor that triggers symptoms.
Persons with heavy-metal overload can have major problems. Here are a couple of examples: (1) a man was depressed and on medications before he went to the Pfeiffer Clinic. When they tested him, they found his lead blood level was 80 times normal. When they called him in to report this, he was wearing old clothes that were covered with bits of paint. He had just bought a huge old house and was scraping all the old lead-based paint off and repainting. Once he realized the cause, he was fine in two weeks. (2) Two kids were doing just fine in school. Suddenly their schoolwork plummeted. It was discovered that they had started melting lead to cast new toy trains and other shapes in their basement with their father. Once they dropped this new hobby, the schoolwork improved.
. . . a man was depressed and on medications . . . He had just bought a huge old house and was scraping all the old lead-based paint off and repainting. Once he realized the cause, he was fine in two weeks.
Many are highly methylated, which can lead to dangerously high levels of certain neurotransmitters and severe chemical sensitivity.
Most autistics exhibit this problem. The consequences can include nutrient deficiencies, irritation of the intestinal tract, candida, and mental health problems, along with impulsivity and under-achievement.
There are four that make up 90% of the fatty acids in the brain: DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), AA (arachidonic acid), and DGLA (dihomogamma-linolenic acid). The first two are omega 3s and the latter two omega 6s. These fatty substances fulfill exceedingly important brain functions. Typical American diets usually result in insufficient omega-3 and excessive omega-6 fats. However, biochemical individuality also exists with oils and certain persons are innately low in omega-6 oils.
The main conclusion from all this is biochemical individuality. NO single herb, vitamin or drug medication will be good for everybody. Other than identical twins, there is almost no chance at all that even any two siblings will be genetically identical.
Chemical imbalances can be mild, moderate, or severe. A mild condition can often be overcome by good parenting, but moderate and severe conditions need biochemical and nutrient treatment.
The main conclusion from all this is biochemical individuality. NO single herb, vitamin or drug medication will be good for everybody. Other than identical twins, there is almost no chance at all that even any two siblings will be genetically identical. These days when there is so much hype for particular diets—each promoted to help everyone—there is a much greater danger from vitamin or trace metal overload. For many people, who already have too much of certain vitamins or minerals, many of these multiple vitamin/mineral pills would be poison.
For many people, who already have too much of certain vitamins or minerals, many of these multiple vitamin/mineral pills would be poison.
Finding each individual’s needs requires much careful testing, plus attention to their history and their pattern of symptoms, which can be particularly illuminating . We all should remember and adhere to Pfeifferís Law: “For every drug medication that benefits a person, there is a natural substance that can produce the same result.”Article from NOHA NEWS, Vol. XXVIII, No. 1, Winter 2003, pages 2-4