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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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Pica to Protect and Detoxify

Pica to Protect and Detoxify

(p.119) Chapter Nine Pica to Protect and Detoxify
Craving Earth

Sera L. Young

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines the final adaptive hypothesis on why animals and humans eat non-food substances, the protection-detoxification hypothesis. Under this hypothesis, pica is a protective behavior, one that shields us from the harmful items we ingest. It begins by presenting some relevant background information on what pica may be protecting us from, and the mechanisms by which it may occur. It then assesses the predictions that can be made from the hypothesis. If pica is a protective or detoxifying practice, we would expect: pica substances would shield us from the harmful effects of toxins and pathogens; pica would occur more frequently during exposure to toxins and pathogens; and pica would occur more frequently when people are vulnerable to the harmful effects of toxins and pathogens. It concludes that many pica substances are good at shielding us from the harmful effects of chemicals and pathogens.

Keywords:   pica, non-food cravings, toxins, pathogens, protection-detoxification hypothesis

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