What is the phenomenon called pica?
Watch as Dr. Mike Dow explains the phenomenon called pica, how it came about and steps you can take to treat it.
We see that in underdeveloped countries, where they're not getting their nutritional needs met, up to 60% or 70%
of pregnant women will develop pica.
Pica, which has been featured quite prominently on my two shows, TLC's "My Strange Addiction" and "Freaky Eaters,"
is the eating of a non-nutritious substance or sometimes a strange substance. So this includes the eating of dirt,
clay, paint, sometimes things like flour or cornstarch, or even some more bizarre things--
glass, paste, the inside of a couch cushion, or toilet paper. What is this about?
Many times, this is part of a nutritional deficiency. We see that in underdeveloped countries, where they're not
getting their nutritional needs met, up to 60% or 70% of pregnant women will develop pica.
It's your body's way of telling you, I'm not getting some need met, so I have a craving. However, the craving of what you're eating
is not helping you to get your nutritional needs met. Other times, in the United States, the pica rates are not so high.
But, again, many people, especially when pregnant, will develop pica. Sometimes, pica and the eating of
these non-nutritious substances, like toilet paper, can also be part of an anxiety disorder or a food addiction.
For many people, it may start in pregnancy, but then you become addicted to eating the substance and it becomes a compulsion or habit that you cannot break.
If you're eating things like flour or cornstarch, it's also giving you a release of serotonin in the brain, which helps you to understand why that may be
self-medicating your anxiety. First, rule out nutritional deficiencies with your primary care physician.
Supplement as needed. And then, psychologically, you really need to look at am I medicating some sort of anxiety?
Is this behavior actually helping me to feel peaceful? Some people twirl their hair, or pace, or play with their pen.
Some people eat toilet paper or couch cushions. But the root of that is the same. It's an anxiety-based disorder.
So ask yourself, what are some of the things that I can do to feel more peaceful? What are some new and healthy rituals
I can give myself and perform in my everyday life? [AUDIO LOGO]
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