The Chemical Background of the Relation Between Malnutrition and Heredity

By Dr. Royal Lee

SummaryIt’s been said that Dr. Royal Lee’s theories were typically fifty years ahead of their time. In this astounding lecture from 1956, the great pioneer of nutrition science presents two “radical” ideas now considered revolutions in scientific thought. First, Dr. Lee challenges the principle of classic genetics theory that, barring a mutation in a person’s DNA, that individual will pass on a clean genetic slate to his or her children. Instead, Dr. Lee states, any defect caused to a person during his or her lifetime by malnutrition is likely to be inherited by the individual’s future children—a fact thoroughly substantiated by the new science of epigenetics. Dr. Lee then discusses the science behind his remarkable Theory of Protomorphology, the first known account of autoimmune disorders. According to Dr. Lee’s theory, the growth and repair of body tissues is controlled by a careful balance between, on one hand, growth-promoting antigens produced by (and unique to) each type of tissue and, on the other hand, antibodies produced by the body’s autoimmune system. If the amount of antibodies exceeds the normal balance, then those antibodies attack the tissue—or an “autoimmune reaction” occurs. Though it would take decades for conventional science to catch up with Dr. Lee, today autoimmune reactions are considered a leading cause of disease and death in America. From Natural Food and Farming, 1956. 

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The Chemical Background of the Relation Between Malnutrition and Heredity

Address given by Dr. Royal Lee to the 1956 National Convention of the National Food Associates, Terre Haute, Indiana.

It is a well-established fact that malnutrition can bring about morphological changes that are transmitted to offspring. This seems to explode the generally held opinion that acquired characteristics cannot be transmitted to offspring. This has been covered to some extent in a previous lecture of mine entitled “Unfitting the Unborn.”

What we are interested in at this time is how this can take place—just what is the mechanism involved from a biochemical viewpoint. To get a proper perspective of the magnitude of this concept, it is important that we realize that the hypothesis we need will not only include the mechanism of heredity but also the mechanism of growth control and the mechanism of the control of morphology. To find such a mechanism, you will realize at once that we must go to the cell nucleus and start investigating the chromosome and the gene.

Some years ago Dr. Fenton B. Turck of New York reported thirty years of research on this line—at least on a line that became the opening door to an explanation of our question—in his book The Action of the Living Cell. He pointed out that every living cell is at all times secreting into its surroundings a specific substance of a specific antigenic nature that regulates the rate of growth or repair of the cell. What he was investigating was really the cell blueprints, the seed of the cell, as it were, that catalyze the synthesis of new protein on the external cell wall. The nucleus is no doubt also carrying on a similar synthesis on its respective separating wall; in fact, the blueprint proteins themselves are suspected to be made in this way, while on the outer cell wall the more simple proteins of the cell are made from materials available in the culture medium in which the cell lives. When we talk about genes, we are speaking of aggregates of various kinds of these blueprint molecules. In fact, you realize that the plans for such a structure as the human body must be quite a volume of blueprints. We know that chromosomes and genes are composed of monomolecular layers of cholesterol on which lipoproteins are adsorbed in similar monomolecular layers, just like a stack of blueprints. Also, it is suspected that these layers are duplicated by a template process that is just like offset printing, that the master copy seems to be made in reverse out of stereoisomerically opposite amino acids than the common ones found in the rest of the cell structures. The cell activity before mitosis is a process of making a set of duplicated blueprints for the new cell.

Blood cannot coagulate without a supply of blueprints to determine the nature of the protein to be formed from the precursors in the blood. The circulating platelet seems to be the source for these blueprints.

The germ cells made by the sex glands must get a supply of these blueprint factors to build the stack of blueprints in the master germ cell, [and they] must get them from the bloodstream, possibly from the platelet again; and you will appreciate the circumstance that if the original source of such blueprints for any specific tissue is missing, say for the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas, there will be no way for these blueprints to get into the master plan. Suppose both parents had diabetes—no islets of Langerhans; the offspring of such parents would be bound to be born with diabetes. Such is actually true.

Turck found that these cell determinants could survive—at least their antigenic characteristics could survive—a temperature up to about 700 degrees centigrade. The ash of specific tissues will cause anaphylactic reactions if injected into sensitized animals with almost the same potency as the fresh protein. We know that colloidal silica does not lose its colloidal form until heated to this temperature.1

It is known that silica has a specific adsorption power for cholesterol and that cholesterol has a specific adsorption power for proteins, so here we may have a physicochemical mechanism that is responsible for the primary function of the living cell. Dr. George Crile was able to make “synthetic” cells by using brain ash added to amino acid mixtures, which actually proceeded to subdivide.2

Brain carries the most-active group of growth-promoting factors of any tissue, no doubt because it has to create protein more speedily than any other tissue. (The association fibers that are memory pathways must be built up as fast as we think.) That is why the best source of thromboplastin for the stimulation of blood clotting is a brain extract. Thromboplastin is the common name for the connective tissue blueprint substance, but always in very crude and unrefined forms.

The silica matrix seems to carry the physical details that make the blueprints specific and in all probability serves the same purpose as a stereotype metal in book printing. Dr. Carleton Bastian found years ago, in his experiments to promote spontaneous generation of life, that the silica content of the culture media was of prime importance.3 His work was ridiculed at the time, but it is interesting to find Dr. Crile creating living cells with brain ash out of sterile and synthetic chemicals—the very thing that was supposed to be impossible at the time Dr. Bastian reported it—and his results [being] laughed off with the comment that his sterilizing methods were faulty.

No protein is ever found without a mineral ash, but this fact is not well known. (Unless it be a nonspecific blood protein with no antigenic power.) In fact, it is very probable that the mineral ash is the most important part of the protein, the thing that determines its specificity and the carrier of the hereditary factors in all living things.

It is well known that trace minerals needed by plant life, if deficient, result in morphological deformities in plant structures before the deficiency has reached the degree that stops growth. This is indicative of the need for such trace minerals as blueprint materials, faulty blueprints being produced before all growth is stopped. In the animal we must look for a mechanism that regulates the degree of growth as well as regulating form. The immune bodies found in the bloodstream function as such. Antibodies are constantly being formed against all natural tissues as well as against invading proteins. These are beginning to become a part of immunology under the subject of natural tissue antibodies.4 To illustrate how they work, note the reaction of the remaining kidney after one has been removed. It grows bigger—to twice normal size—to carry the load alone. The life expectancy of the patient is not affected. If you connect the circulation of two animals and cut out half the liver of one, the liver in the other animal begins to grow. Overactivity—overload—of the half liver creates an abnormal release of blueprint protein into the bloodstream, which combines with and reduces the temporary levels of liver antibody, thereby allowing any liver receiving the blood so changed to start renewed cell division. By this system, any organ that is not used to its capacity regresses in size and if used beyond its capacity, increases in size. It may be of interest to mention that concentrated preparations of the blueprints of many organs are commercially available and are being successfully used to stimulate repair of the heart, lungs, pancreas, etc., after years of disease have caused the creation of excess antibody. The speed of action sometimes is phenomenal, heart tissue often responding within minutes to the removal of the inhibitory effect of excess circulating antibody to heart tissue (the effect being measurable cardiographically), the action being much like [that of] digitalis.5

It has been known for 40 years that such antibodies exist, but [as with] Dr. Bastian’s and Dr. Crile’s works, the ideas were not consistent with orthodox scientific superstition, and nobody dared to be found investigating such crackpot conclusions. As Dr. A.P. Kelley recently said in his book Mycotrophy in Plants (Chronica Botanica, 1950) on page 15, referring to the non-integral, exogenous nature of plant root hairs, “Moreover, there is little prospect that research will be done on such structures, for the ruling motive in botanical science today appears to be subservience to the authority of tradition.” (Dr. Kelley is trying to tell us that the root hairs on plants in the main are fungoid, bearing the same relation to the plant as barnacles do to the ship. Certainly, if we had only received our knowledge of ships by examining those afloat, we would be hard to convince that the barnacle was not an integral part of the engineering plans, particularly so if we found the occupants of the ship making use of the barnacles in their food pattern.)

This discovery of the way growth and form are controlled by chemical determinants has opened up an entire new territory in physiology and therapeutics. The endocrine regulators are now much more intelligible in their mode of action. Thyroid, for instance, does its work in the main by releasing determinant factors from adsorbed stores in connective tissue, the basal metabolism response being characteristic of the cell activity stimulated by the presence of such determinants in stimulating growth, repair or metabolism, in combination or alone, as the case may be, depending on the part of the life cycle involved.

The sex hormones operate in the main by steering these determinants to the gonad, where the response is the physiological one of increased activity. Any surplus of determinant in its original nondiffusible form is excreted by the bile route. (By the way, the bile is the normal outlet for any nondiffusible waste products—colloidal carbon injected into the blood being eliminated thereby.)

Since the sex-hormone molecule seems to accompany the determinant to the gonad or liver, it also is excreted along with any determinant that is thrown out with the bile. The liver in most animals is known to eliminate sex hormones, but the reason or relation has been undecipherable.

There will be a question as to the relation of cancer susceptibility to the determinant status. It seems at this early date that cancer is only possible when there is too little of available natural blueprint material so that the cells are easily led astray into new forms. That fits in with the statement that cancer is biological anarchy. Only after the normal governing powers have become incompetent can cancer occur. Very encouraging results are being shown by feeding cancer victims concentrates of the determinant from the type of tissue that is being attacked by the cancer. It is undoubtedly one of the many factors in the cancer situation, but it is likely that endocrine support as well is of primary importance. Just how to manage this restoration to normal endocrine balances is the most pressing problem, in my mind, at this moment. X-ray, like thyroid, acts to release determinant factors from the cell chromosome. That is why X-ray can help cancer and is also why repeated exposure to X-ray can cause cancer. In the latter case, the released determinant causes the eventual development of natural tissue antibody to the cells or tissue concerned and renders it susceptible to cancer by the reduction locally of the determinant. The irritation theory of cancer can act the same way—the pipe smoker’s constantly irritated lip triggers off too much antibody to the tissues involved, and the cancer can start at the irritated point, the irritated cells losing so much determinant that they become most susceptible to the antibody.

There has probably been no discovery in biological science that has shown such prompt practical rewards as the use of these determinants in therapeutics. It is highly suggestive of the ultimate role of this new weapon, a thoroughly natural weapon—as distinguished from the array of unwarranted experiments in toxicology that has characterized the recent history of pharmacology, even down to the strange craze for the mass medication of water fluoridation. We must be careful to retain our horizons of sanity to avoid being unduly influenced by the specious logic of those responsible for the peculiar philosophies of a modern medical education, so well defined by that Harvard professor as “the warping of an unsuspecting immature mind into a meticulous system of commercial superstition.”

By Royal Lee, DDS. Natural Food and Farming, Official Publication of Natural Food Associates, Inc., Vol. 2, No. 12, March 1956. 


1. Iler. The Colloid Chemistry of Silica and the Silicates. Cornell Univ. Press, 1955.
2. W.W. Norton. The Phenomena of Life, a Radio-Electric Interpretation, 1936, Chapter 7.
3. Carleston Bastian. The Origin of Life. Lippincott, 1872.
4. J.G. Kidd, MD, W.F. Friedewald, MD. Jol. Exper. Med., 76:543, 76:557, 1942.
5. “Applied Protomorphology.” Vitamin News, p. 195, 1954. Vitamin Products Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

N.F.A. Reprint 2-12-9


Patrick Earvolino, CN

Patrick Earvolino is a Certified Nutritionist and Special Projects Editor for Selene River Press, Inc.

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