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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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Medicine You Can Walk On

Medicine You Can Walk On

(p.32) Chapter Three Medicine You Can Walk On
Craving Earth

Sera L. Young

Columbia University Press

This chapter describes the many ways that pica substances have been used to heal a range of ailments. It begins by discussing some of the physical and chemical features of clay. It then describes clay known as terra sigillata, which was valued by the ancient Greeks and Romans for its healing properties. Pliny, for instance, wrote about how terra sigillata could be used as an antidote to swallowed poisons and snakebites, as a treatment for dysentery, and to reduce inflammation around the eyes. The remainder of the chapter covers the history of clay in Chinese pharmacopeia and how but earth continues to be used by modern medicine as effective treatments for diarrhoea and wound healing.

Keywords:   pica substances, geophagy, medicine, terra sigillata, diarrhoea, wound healing, medicinal properties, clay, Chinese pharmacopeia

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