Considered a mental health disease, Pica takes its name from the Latin word for magpie – a bird that eats just about anything from paper through to wood, clothing, skin and even metal.
Teresa Widener – 45-year-old Bedford, Virginia woman has, for more than 20 years eaten rocks picked up from the ground, regularly sucking the dirt off them before using her teeth to crunch them up.
This unusual mother of two – working with special needs children – has a rare condition known as pica – a causing people to eat inedible objects, such as the woman highlighted in early March - 22 year Nicole Bonner claiming to have eaten around 1,000 sponges after developing a strange craving for soap during her pregnancy five years ago. Teresa has found herself able to crunch rocks pretty easily for in excess of two decades
She claims to have a liking for the earthy flavour, and always keeps some in the house, feeling better for knowing them to be there, whenever she gets upset or feels stressed, often neglecting to wash the rocks off, craving the dirt attached to them, though she says the eating of her strange snacks helps treat her iron deficiency.
Teresa can often be found using a hammer in her kitchen to smash larger chunks into bite-size pieces, storing smaller stones in a old pill container. Clinical social worker and therapist Dr Jordana Mansbacher, commented that as pica sufferers tend to eat anything, the behaviour is not abnormal in any real sense
Eating rocks, and soil, has no known health benefits, but can introduce parasites into the system, also puncture or tear bodily internal tissues, leading to bleeding, along with other potential problems.
This unorthodox practice is often seen as akin to the cravings that pregnant women get – my own mother relished coal – because they often feel like iron, which is found in the soil attached to the rock, but Teresa Widener is not pregnant, yet her cravings are undiminished
However peculiar you find this behaviour to be, it is yet another striking example of both the diversity of nature and the unfathomable depths of the human mind.
Published in: Gardening