Is There Anything to Cellular Memory?

I’ve gotten myself into a pickle of a spot in a rather strange debate. This discussion has turned onto the topic of cellular memory. Remember that lady, Clare Sylvia, who came out of heart surgery wanting a beer; quite odd for someone who never like beer, she claims? But I haven’t heard a word about the strange phenomenon since. Was there ever anything to this? Or is this something from the paranormal X-files, like alien abducting Egyptians or psychic dogs?

I came across that SD article while searching along Google. (Followed by about one million psychic Mind-Head sites) It doesn’t appear to be debunking, disproving, or even giving doubt to anything. Rather it’s being snarky and snide to dismiss something that they didn’t do research on. I’d probably treat the article as a better authority if they can give me some links to some sort of modern research instead of scarcasm.

Dammit, I am skeptical of this idea, but I need more than snideness to dismiss this kinda thing in a debate.

Hell, even some statistic saying that while of x people who had a transplant t% gained the cravings of the doner, y% didn’t experience any unusual cravings, z% had unusual cravings which couldn’t be explained by the donor’s lifestyle.

Is there anybody who wasted grant money to do research on this?

Well, as it’s posited (that cells–particularly not gray matter–somehow hold memory of our life experiences) seems absurd. It would be even more absurd if the transplant recipient suddenly found herself preferring blue to yellow, or Snoop Dogg CDs to Barry Manilow–just like the donor.

But the food angle…

What if we’re just talking about some sort of chemical dependency? What if you got the heart of a heroin addict? Might you crave a little Horse?

So, while it still seems ridiculous that the woman wants the same foods as the heart donor, a (very very) tenuous explanation could be that the cells of the organ she received grew accustomed to certain chemicals in the food the donor regularly ingested (alcohol, sugars, capsaicin, etc.) and she felt the cravings when those foods were withheld.

I don’t buy it, but there’s a biochemical pseudoexplanation for you rather than some mystical, crystal-energy gibberish.


I think the craving angle may be fruitful. How exactly does the body alert you of a specific need? Do you have an internal food/nutrient cross reference system? I don’t crave protein after a long run, I want meat or nuts. I suspect your brain(or some other part of your nervous system) takes the component requirements and fits a food in to meet that need. Perhaps her body has had some fleeting exposure to alcohol in the form of beer, and her memory is playing this back to her as a craving.

Cravings might not be all they’re cracked up to be, though.

For example, people with anemia often crave some particular food, whether or not it is a good source of iron (e.g. tomatoes.)

Is there any evidence to suggest that craving a food really indicates that you need certain nutrients that the food contains? If so, as NotMrKnowItAll asks, how does your brain know what your body needs?