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Craving EarthUnderstanding Pica--the Urge to Eat Clay, Starch, Ice, and Chalk$
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Sera Young

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231146098

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231146098.001.0001

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Poisons and Pathogens

Poisons and Pathogens

(p.58) Chapter Five Poisons and Pathogens
Craving Earth

Sera L. Young

Columbia University Press

This chapter returns to what is clearly demarcated pica behavior, the purposive ingestion of craved non-food substances, and explores its purported negative consequences from a much more biomedical point of view. Pica is strongly associated with anemia, and sometimes associated with heavy metal poisoning and non-hookworm geohelminth infections. It can also seriously damage most parts of the alimentary canal, from teeth to anus. For these reasons, pica has been considered a pathological behavior by most medical professionals. However, pica substances are also associated with medicines, health, and healing. Thus, it is clear that pica is associated with both positive and negative conditions.

Keywords:   pica, non-food cravings, illness, anemia, poisoning, non-hookworm geohelminth infections, alimentary canal

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