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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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July 21, 2011

Eating Earth: Exploring the Mysterious World of Geophagy

By Mark Sisson
125 Comments

A few weeks ago I got into an unusual conversation with a guy in a coffee shop. We were both passing through town – he for personal travel and me for business. We struck up a conversation waiting in line and ended up chatting for the remainder of our respective stops there. We talked about what we did, where we were headed, etc. When I mentioned the blog and the PB philosophy behind it, his face lit up. He loved the idea and had embraced similar principles several years prior. His latest experiment, the health effects of which he raved about, was adding dirt to his diet. I listened with interest and asked questions.

You all know I’m big on dirt, and more specifically, on probiotic supplementation. And while I’ve touched on the health benefits of dirt, the immune building properties of dirt consumption in children, and the connection between dirt and clinical depression in youngsters, I’ve never met anyone who made a personal habit of dirt ingestion. I’d heard of the practice in traditional societies, but it had always been one of those concepts I’d thought about in passing and tabled for another time. The idea has been on my mind ever since that exchange.

On the one hand, how more fundamental can it get than ingesting earth – the very source of sustenance (in one way or another)? There’s minerals, probiotics, and all manner of goodies to be had. On the other hand – lest we forget the more savage side of ecology – there are the less hospitable microbes, the more insidious creepy crawlies – (roundworm, anyone?). Though my conversation partner that day explained with pride and assurance that he obtained his dietary dirt from only the most trusted, meticulous, and local purveyor, I wondered if I could get past the Fear Factor element. He seemed so taken by its effects – the weight loss, the improved digestion, the higher energy. With some careful caveats, could it be worth eating dirt?

In truth, humans have been eating earth for as long as we’ve been around – and not just because Grok didn’t have a salad spinner. Geophagy has been observed throughout the world – everywhere from sub-Saharan Africa to Europe, Asia to Australia. In the U.S., geophagy has figured into the culture of various indigenous cultures and to the past (and present) of the South, where experts believe native Africans who were brought as slaves introduced the practice.

It’s not just one of collective humanity’s hobby horses either. Scientists have studied geophagy in a host of other mammals as well, including elephants, wolves, and primates. Surely, this common a practice must have some kind of adaptive element?

A recent article from Lapham’s Quarterly traced the unusual, circuitous, and sometimes unsettling practice of geophagy in human history. (Those of you who count among your passions both history and food will appreciate the publication’s summer issue.) From a scientific angle, our understanding of geophagy has involved its crucial distinction from pica, the consumption of all varieties of non-edibles like coins, hair, soap, etc. Our view has also been colored by the interplay of cultures, the character of terrain and its vegetation, and the division between scientific and traditional approaches to health.

The article traces at length the career of Alexander Humboldt, an 18th and 19th century explorer, who first noted geophagy in the native population of a South American mission he visited. The indigenous Otomacs, Humboldt noted, ate a “‘prodigious quantity’” of “‘soft, unctuous clay” (which they called poya) that they obtained from particular areas of a nearby river bank. In fact, they not only ate it but meticulously collected it for routine seasonal storage. Humboldt was both floored and disgusted. Nonetheless, he was apparently hooked from then on. In the proceeding decades, he continued to study geophagy as it was observed around the world. His research “normalized” geophagy to the extent that people learned to associate it less with abnormal psychology and more with long-standing tradition across the globe, even in regions as “civilized” as Sweden and Finland.

Fast forward a couple centuries, and we’re still digging for the physiological roots of geophagy – the why. The who is pretty clear. Experts have noted that children and pregnant/child-bearing aged women are the most likely to practice geophagy, but it’s not limited to these demographics. As for the what, geophagy related earth is generally clay rather than soil. Where? How? Those who practice geophagy as their ancestors did in the same regions are as particular as the Otomacs were in harvesting said clay. Tribal/community wisdom passed down through the generations directs them to very specific sites. Usually, the clay is gathered by digging down a number of several inches – where microbial presence is substantially diminished compared to surface soil. Sometimes it is eaten as is. Other times it is mixed with water and used as a dip for food.

But why? Theories have abounded in scientific corners. Many experts traced the phenomenon to mineral supplementation. In other words, animals and humans ate earth to benefit from the nutrition of it – particularly minerals like calcium and iron. Numerous studies exist attempting to correlate anemia and earth eating. Some show that those who eat earth tend to be more iron deficient, but the earth routinely eaten by some of these groups is actually high in iron.  More questions arise from there. Is something in the earth they eat interfering with iron absorption? Were they already deficient before they started eating earth? Which came first: the chicken or the egg? Moreover, when anemic, geophagy-practicing children in one study were given iron supplementation, they still ate the clay. Is it culture then? Habit? Is it something else biological – or all of the above?

When scientists sampled earth from geophagic sites frequented by animals, they found that the earth contained only modest mineral content. In another study, however, scientists carefully compared earth samples taken directly from where the animals ate (“interior” earth) with those taken at the surface/other spots at the site. The samples taken where the animals had eaten actually showed more mineral content. (Now that’s a discerning palate!)

Just a few weeks ago, a meta-analysis on geophagy research was published that goes a long way in honing in on the sense behind the practice. Sera Young from Cornell University and her fellow researchers analyzed more than 300 recorded observations of animal geophagy and nearly 500 of human geophagy instances. The records related to particular practices, soil content, etc. pointed to a rationale that’s been gaining momentum in the past two decades.

Instead of hunger of mineral supplementation, Young and her team found the most compelling support for geophagy as digestive protection and support. Those who engage in geophagy the most often (children and pregnant women), the researchers noted, are the most “vulnerable” to “dietary chemicals, parasites, and pathogens.” The clays routinely eaten in geophagic practice showed little overall mineral content. They did, however, have one thing in common – clay content.

The clay itself, Young and others researchers have noted, is key. Certain kinds of clay has the power to ease stomach distress. Anyone who’s taken Kaopectate (pre-2003 in the U.S. and any year elsewhere) knows this. It acts as a natural binder to relieve diarrhea and can curb acidity. Bothered by nausea (as many pregnant women are)? Plagued by pathogen-induced diarrhea? It’s little wonder people traditionally sought out clay. It offers inherent medicinal properties.

But that’s not all. Specific clay varieties can actually enhance a person’s or animal’s nutritional potential. The types of geophagic clay ingested by animals and people disable toxic anti-nutrients found in regionally available plants. The knowledge that has been handed down – or instinct that was selected for – allowed people and animals to increase the variety of their diets and likely take advantage of alternative food sources when traditional foods were scarcer during inclement weather, pest infestation, etc. Young’s examination showed that both humans and animals benefitted from geophagy’s ability to counter natural plant toxins. The analysis affirms research done by others who have observed the effect of clay varieties on various natural toxins, including the glycoalkaloids of wild potatoes (PDF) or tannins in acorns.

Experts warn, however, that there’s an increasing danger to this traditional practice. For better and for worse, few if any of us across the globe live in Grok’s world anymore. Agricultural and industrial pollutants have found their way into corners more remote than we could possibly imagine. Even soil in less industrialized countries is bearing the chemical stamp of modernity. One recent study analyzed samples of African soil that was sold for geophagic purposes in various parts of Africa, Europe, and the U.S. Of particular concern to the researchers were the microbe and lead levels. Small levels of mercury and cadmium were also present.

Nonetheless, geophagy continues – in many traditional societies and in more “modern” regions where an increasing number of people are exploring geophagy’s protective and therapeutic effects. I’ve heard that some are using particular clay varieties to treat systemic cases of Candida or Crohn’s. I find the potential of traditionally eaten clays like kaolin, bentonite, and attapulgite – especially for these kinds of applications – compelling. As for obtaining pristine stores or supplements of these varieties, I’m not so won over.

Perhaps some of you in the Primal community practice or know folks who practice geophagy. Maybe you have sources – like the gentleman I met – who you know and trust. Maybe you have personal access to these kinds of clays and have the local resources to get your source thoroughly tested. That would be the way to do it, I’d say.

For the rest of us, there’s this. While it’s clear that geophagy played a role in our species’ evolution, we’re fortunate to have access to good sanitation and an infinite variety of foods that don’t require special formulations to aid digestion. I think there’s value in understanding how our ancestors lived and learned to thrive in their environments. There’s also value, however, in embracing the options we have today.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Let me know what you think. I’ll look forward to reading your thoughts.

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119 Comments on "Eating Earth: Exploring the Mysterious World of Geophagy"

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Anne
5 years 4 months ago
This is REALLY interesting. I had no idea that people were deliberately eating dirt, though I do remember all the warnings about “pica” in What to Expect When You’re Expecting! My little brother was a big dirt eater when we were kids. I remember being at the pediatrician’s office with him while my mom asked the doctor for tips on how to get him to stop. “Aah, don’t worry about it!” the pediatrician told my surprised mom. “It’ll be good for his immune system!” I’m not sure if he was old school, or ahead of his time!
Victoria
Victoria
5 years 4 months ago

I agree, in fact, I was a kid (and am an adult) who doesn’t shy away from dirt on or in my food. I don’t go out of my way to dig up a good patch of earth for a meal, but I always thought a little dirt can’t hurt.

Primal Recipe
5 years 4 months ago

He was probably old school – folks from earlier generations knew all this stuff already because they were not affected by media and big buisiness/pharma to the extent that we are today.

SaladMaggie
5 years 4 months ago

Wow, interesting!!

My mom would always say to me, “Everyone eats a cup of dirt before they die.” She was always very anti- antibacterials and being uber clean.

I think it worked out well!!

Currently I rarely wash (organic) veggies – why bother? Especially when you are cooking root veggies like burdock, the little bit of dirt gives it some extra flavor 😉

Sean Kelly
Sean Kelly
5 years 4 months ago

I was like that until the day I pulled lettuce from my garden, put it in my salad bowl, and barely avoided eating a piece of slug poop. It was gross. 🙂

WiltonDeportes
5 years 4 months ago

What exactly does slug poop look like?

Lida
Lida
5 years 4 months ago

My cousin found a caterpillar in her soup from a Chinese restaurant once…

While laughing about that experience over a salad from a farmer’s market… She bit into a slug. Talk about gross. Haha!

Jean
Jean
2 years 1 month ago

Wash them because the “organic fertilizer” can have parasite eggs in it.
For example, look here:
https://healthwyze.org/index.php/component/content/article/243-eliminating-the-parasites-that-you-almost-certainly-have-and-curing-lupus.html

Primal Toad
5 years 4 months ago
Eat dirt as in eat dirt? Not just because there is some on the carrot you dug up? Crazy. Insane. Something I would only think about doing if I was dying. Your last statement Mark… I have been looking at how we may have lived in the past and how we live today and am doing my absolute best to combine the best of both worlds. I am all about having less, minimizing and am about to go crazy with it. I believe in memories. In friends and family. In exploring the world. I’ll have a fridge and chest freezer… Read more »
Primal Recipe
5 years 4 months ago

I’ve heard of and considered eating/using montmorillonite clay, which is essentially some special dirt. I never did it, but perhaps a little in a smoothie might not be detectable?

Jim
Jim
5 years 4 months ago

I’ve seen that clay listed in some specialty dog foods and always wondered why it was included…

Primal Recipe
5 years 4 months ago

WOw, I never knew it was in dog food. Maybe I’m glad I never ate it!

Peggy The Primal Parent
5 years 4 months ago

I’m so glad you wrote about this Mark! I secretively eat dirt all the time. When I go play at the park, hike in the mountains, climb trees or walk on my hands in the dirt, I always lick my fingers afterwards. It’s so great to hear of someone out there who openly makes a habit of this in our society.

Thanks for sharing.

Jeff
Jeff
5 years 4 months ago

I just read about this in Weston Price’s book (surprise surprise, that book contains valuable information on everything). It really is amazing how much knowledge is contained in the traditions passed down by our ancestors. While medical science is now approaching decades of research, our ancestors were figuring out things and passing down the knowledge for thousands of years. It is amazing how quickly our society has dismissed this knowledge.

Primal Palate
Primal Palate
5 years 4 months ago
I’ve been eating dirt for over a year now. It’s called Azomite and has ALL minerals and trace minerals present in the correct ratio. It’s being supplemented for animals fed grains, legumes or a pasture deficient in soil minerals. It counteracts the effects of high phosphorus in a high grain,legume diet and is given to most sport horses so they don’t break a leg when stumbling. It makes hair and nails grow twice as fast and super strong. It also counters the effects of foods that are acidic forming. Weak poultry legs quickly recover to their full strength and chicken… Read more »
Phil
Phil
5 years 4 months ago

Just out of interest,is there any particular grade or type that you get? I eat Celtic Sea Salt, which has plenty of minerals, though I guess in levels not so high as this.

Primal Palate
Primal Palate
5 years 4 months ago
I bought 4 bags of 44 lbs of Azomite, directly from an Azomite Dealer about 10 miles from my house. I’m not sure if you’d get the exact quality buying online in smaller bags from stores that might call their clay Azomite, but might not be. I had a really long conversation with my Azomite Dealer, and he assured me that this is completely clean and healthy and all of his life stock + his entire family, children and grandchildren take Azomite daily. This guy was in his mid 60’s with a full set of white hair and a healthy… Read more »
Phil
Phil
5 years 4 months ago

Thanks for your reply, Primal Palate. 🙂 Unfortunately,after doing some digging around, it seems like it will be a bit hard to come by where I am (UK). The best I could easily do locally is French Montmorillonite, or Bentonite orginating from Wyoming. I’m not exactly sure how they compare to Azomite.

Glad for the info! 🙂

james
james
5 years 4 months ago

I have been cycling Azomite for about 7 months now. I usually take a teaspoon before bed with CALM and Arginine powder.
My question has always been dosage as there are so many conflicting reports as to how much to take in order to reap the benefits. What say you regarding dosage?

SlenderGrok
SlenderGrok
5 years 4 months ago

Also, Azomite isn’t treated in any way like the other commercial clays you might find.
It comes in its raw form, not treated with heat or chemicals.
This is the only clay/limestone that I take. It also makes an excellent skin paste for oily folks with acne.
Some people use it to dry wash their hair. If you’d like to be shampoo free, sprinkle it over your hair, rub into scalp and rinse out with filtered water (no chlorine).

Phil
Phil
5 years 4 months ago

Thank you, too!

maurile
maurile
5 years 4 months ago

As soon as I read the article I came to the comments section to see if I’d be the first to mention Azomite. You beat me.

I bought about $10 worth of Azomite a few years ago, and still have plenty left. It’s as reasonably priced as it is minerally rich.

gman
gman
5 years 4 months ago

I read something earlier in the day that said azomite has lead in it…
Opinions???

Primal Palate
Primal Palate
5 years 4 months ago
If you’ve ever opened a can of food and eaten it chances are you’ve eaten more lead than you would in a year of consuming 1/2 a teaspoon of azomite a day. The major exposure of lead to the general population in food is through fruits and grains, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, part of the U.S. Public Health Service. Lead in the food chain comes mostly from direct deposit from the air to plants (gasoline and industrial polutants)and from livestock eating soil laced with lead as they eat the plants. The bans on leaded… Read more »
Hal
5 years 4 months ago

I’m simple – I’ll take my dirt with my veggies.

No real reason to go hog wild and just eat dirt. Plus I don’t really care for the taste.

Ruby
5 years 4 months ago

Ha ha. You just haven’t had the right dirt!

Unshod Sarah
5 years 4 months ago

Doesn’t Jordon Rubin, Maker’s Diet, endorse a special dirt? I think he even sells it on his site.

K
K
5 years 4 months ago

He advocates SBOs (soil based organisms) as in Primal Defense

Chris
Chris
5 years 4 months ago

Yeah…. Danial Vitalis was all over this making vids about 2 weeks ago with an angle on the detox properties of the clay which wasn’t touched upon here.
He’s got a nice vid about making toothpaste with clay as well.

Clint White
Clint White
5 years 4 months ago

Thanks to my older brother, I probably injested enough dirt in my childhood to last me a lifetime.
I, of course, didn’t appreciate the dirt force-feedings at the time but with this enlightening info I am thinking of calling my brother and thanking him. Not!

Stephanie V.
Stephanie V.
5 years 4 months ago

Very interesting post. I was a dirt eater as a child. Eating dirt is one of my earliest memories. I had two intense cravings. One was dirt, the other burnt match ends. Since a lot of people smoked in those days, I had a nearly endless supply of match ends…

I still occasionally crave both, but don’t partake. I was premature, and anemic. My ankle still bears the scar of a cut-down that was done to give me a blood transfusion.

Relatively new to MDA, but loving it, and implementing changes.

Chris Tamme
5 years 4 months ago

There is a market here for some entreperneurial individual. Don’t be surprised if you see me selling packaged and branded dirt for consumption by only the most discerning consumers.

OldShoe
5 years 4 months ago

Hailing from Georgia, I have heard about this for years. There is a white clay common to South Georgia (Kaolin http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaolin )that was eaten by locals as an appetite suppressant or a cure for upset stomachs. Haven’t ever tried it myself, but I don’t suppose next time I’m down in that part of the state I just might.

Regards,
David

beccahi
beccahi
5 years 4 months ago

I have heard of people ingesting diatomaceous earth, (food grade for human use).
Personally I don’t mind a bit of dirt on an occasional veggie, but I don’t think I’d purposely ingest it.

Victor
Victor
5 years 4 months ago

Diatomaceous earth is sold as “Kieselerde” in any German drugstore in the supplement section. Often Kieselerde is also just Silicon dioxide, that is sand, quartz. It is supposed to be good for hair, skin and bones.

Giftty
Giftty
5 years 4 months ago

I like your ending.

” I think there’s value in understanding how our ancestors lived and learned to thrive in their environments. There’s also value, however, in embracing the options we have today.”

this actually transcends this post to the idea of your blog in general. More tolerant and reasonable approach to paleo. Thanks Marks!

Jaybird
5 years 4 months ago

Very interesting. I wonder though, if using the “5 second rule” when you drop bugers on the ground garners the same effect?

Dawn
5 years 4 months ago

Bentonite clay is the main ingredient in many colon cleanse kits, and good quality brands are readily available on the health food store shelves. Clay is outstanding for removing debris from the colon, and can also adsorb or bind to toxic elements in the gut.

Edible clays are highly absorptive. Mix a tablespoon in some juice or glass of water, then follow with at least 8 ounces of more water to help it go through without problems.

PrimalArturo
5 years 4 months ago

Wow. This entire article was news to me. Interesting stuff. Now I’m going to wait for the person who creates and starts selling their own “nutrient dense soil-food.”

SlenderGrok
SlenderGrok
5 years 4 months ago

That has already happened long ago
http://www.azomite.com

Ryan
5 years 4 months ago
While I don’t eat dirt, per se, I’ve gone through a couple bottles of bentonite clay for detoxification purposes. Our ancestors apparently consumed “earth” to offset the more medicinal and alkaloid rich plants in their diet, which we don’t normally encounter today. We have a different set of toxins to deal with, from all the synthetic chemicals in our environment, to heavy metals and nuclear isotopes. Earth elements like clay and zeolites absorb and adsorb these bad guys and allow us to pass them out through the bowels. Poison control centers often prescribe activated charcoal to absorb ingested poison. It’s… Read more »
Ann
Ann
5 years 4 months ago

The mention of clay aiding digestion reminds me of something I saw on a David Attenbourough documentary about an animal – I thought it was the capybara, but I can’t find anything about it at the moment; something similar, at any rate – which eats a variety of plants so if one of them is poisonous, it doesn’t get enough to really hurt it, and it also eats clay for the same reason, to protect it from any toxins it might inadvertently ingest by absorbing anything dodgy.

Primal Knitter
Primal Knitter
5 years 4 months ago
Thank you Mark, for another fascinating piece of human history. I joined the MDA community only two weeks ago but have read close to fifty of your articles, and I’m always surprised about what your words have to offer. Knowing where we came from, but taking advantage of our modern opportunities seems like the ideal path to follow, for me at least. I went primal the very day that I stumbled across your website two weeks ago. After dealing with a corn allergy for years, lactose intolerance, and recently a gluten intolerance, making the jump to full primal after cruising… Read more »
Lewis
Lewis
5 years 4 months ago
“In the U.S., geophagy has figured into the culture of various indigenous cultures and to the past (and present) of the South, where experts believe native Africans who were brought as slaves introduced the practice.” I’d be sceptical of that claim. One of the best known of the early Spanish narratives, Alvar Nuñez Cabeza De Vaca’s from 1542 mentions it. I doubt the native inhabitants of the South were waiting for outsiders to show them the practice, and in any case such people would have been very few in this far north in the early 16th century. Here are the… Read more »
kem
kem
5 years 4 months ago

Gosh, I would have thought the benefit eating soil would have been related to the vast array of microbial life in nearly all soil.

Larry
Larry
5 years 4 months ago

This blog’s getting ridiculous now.

mogan
mogan
5 years 4 months ago

Hey, he’s gotta talk about something.

Open your mind dude. This is real history here, no one’s making this up. And there’s plenty of evidence for why dirt or clay was beneficial. What did you not get about the posts talking of current uses of bentonite clay?

Kate M.
5 years 4 months ago

Sounds a little odd to me, but what do I know?

HillsideGina
HillsideGina
5 years 4 months ago
I first found out about the uses of Bentonite clay in facial cleansers and masks. Didn’t think much of it until my husband started using my cleanser and said not only did it clear up his acne, but even though he hadn’t used it on his head, it helped his dandruff as well. When he would get a dandruff flare up, it would coincide with a gum inflammation. And this stuff runs in his family. So from then on we would make sure to have Bentonite in the house. Later, he tried edible Bentonite for digestive issues. Again, it helped.… Read more »
Ruby
5 years 4 months ago

See my post below for a story on a serious dirt-eating habit. I had access to Bentonite clay as well, but didn’t like the taste at all. So interesting how particular one’s tastes can get when you are mineral deficient!

Sharon
Sharon
5 years 4 months ago

I have probably at least 100 lbs of dried kaolin porcelain clay sitting on my garage porch.

I have been trying to give it away but after reading this post thought maybe it is valuable as a dietary supplement rather than just as clay to make pots.

After doing some investigation, one site said this clay probably came from one of several southern states and probably has some radioactive properties in it. That is not good news.

Maybe I should get it tested. If it is “clean” it may be a ticket to making some money. Hmmmm

Hayden Tompkins
5 years 4 months ago

I was all about eating dirt when I was a kid but only because I thought the white playground sand might taste like sugar and the dark brown dirt might taste like chocolate. How sad was I when they didn’t!

Every couple of months, I’d try again, just to be sure.

So now that we’ve talked about geophagy, can we talk about entomophagy?? I’ve been thinking of adding crickets to my diet.

frank
frank
5 years 4 months ago

Eating dirt is in the DSM-4 as a mental disease

Uncephalized
Uncephalized
5 years 4 months ago

Which doesn’t necessarily mean much. Homosexuality used to be in the DSM at one point too. Science progresses, and often proves its earlier hypotheses wrong or incomplete.

I also find it exceedingly likely that some people who eat dirt do it for obsessive, pathological reasons, and some people do it for physiological reasons to try to correct some deficiency, and some people do it because it is tradition in their culture. Many reasons, some good, some bad, some indifferent, for the same behavior.

rob
rob
5 years 4 months ago

You have really outdone yourself with this one.

Animanarchy
5 years 4 months ago
This makes me wonder if chewing on wood and bark might have health benefits. Pine bark extract is supposed to be good for oral health and pine bark tea is supposed to be anti-scurvy. http://www.bastyrcenter.org/content/view/770/ What I love to chew and scrape with my teeth are bones, speficially soft ones after they are boiled for a while. If you boil them long enough you can actually chew them up and swallow them like their marrow.. though the one time I ate a significant portion of bone I had bad gas all evening and night and had a weird feeling in… Read more »
morgan
morgan
5 years 4 months ago

Pine bark extract is good for a hell of a lot more than what you listed. Ever heard of Pycnogenol???

Petter R
Petter R
5 years 4 months ago

Hey, what’s up with the quotation marks surrounding civilized while mentioning Sweden? >_< Any more of that and my backyard polar bear might be upset, similar to a wookie losing a game of friendly chess…

Rachel
Rachel
5 years 4 months ago

One of my supervisors, a psychologist, once told us a story about a pregnant woman whose family was sending her clay from Georgia to Ohio so that she could eat it while she was pregnant.

She got diagnosed with Pica and I believe Borderline Intellectual Functioning (hopefully not just due to the clay-eating :))

So just a warning, if you tell a mental health professional you’re eating clay or dirt, you’re probably still going to get diagnosed with Pica. Honestly, as a professional, I would still diagnose someone with it, regardless of today’s post.

Animanarchy
5 years 4 months ago

Bah! @ pyschology. There’s a disorder to categorize almost everyone. I’ve been diagnosed with schizoid personality desorder because my parents forced me into rehab where I sat through the boring group therapy instead of participating, which apparently makes me antisocial and withdrawn. When asked what I like to do by the psychologist I said spend a lot of time in nature and climb trees. That didn’t help my case. I wouldn’t be surprised if some psychologists got together and labelled those who embrace the PB as afflicted by “evolutionary regressive disorder”.

Animanarchy
5 years 4 months ago

I just googled evolutionary regressive disorder after replying and apparently it exists!

morgan
morgan
5 years 4 months ago

You unfortunately did not have the right support from either good parents or good therapists. Sorry, sounds like you’ve been through quite a bit. I have too and can relate.

morgan
morgan
5 years 4 months ago

I’m a true believer in psychology and may go to school so that I can practice therapy one day. I find what you say to be judgemental and harsh-not looking good for you if your actually considering practicing therapy or you already are. There’s a lot of crappy therapists out there. I’ve been spoiled with a few of the very best- Open minded, compassionate, non-judgemental, super empathic/empathetic, super intelligent, highly highly educated(Ph.D.’s), and totally down to earth.

bbuddha
bbuddha
5 years 4 months ago

“I think there’s value in understanding how our ancestors lived and learned to thrive in their environments. There’s also value, however, in embracing the options we have today.” Well said. I don’t think I could go from scrubbing the dirt off my veggies to deliberately eating dirt. But to each his own and if it works for you……

Rich
Rich
5 years 4 months ago

The first thing that came to mind when I started reading this was an episode of TLC’s “My Strange Addiction” where a teen African-American female named Bianca was addicted to eating clay pots. That addiction does not seem quite as unusual now.

phreeB
5 years 4 months ago

My favorite way to get dirt is to not rinse my salad crops when I pull ’em out of the garden. Harvest them straight into the mouth. Some people think it’s gross, I’ve always said “a little dirt never hurt anyone”.

I can’t see me sitting down to a plate of it though.

Joe
5 years 4 months ago

I would be curious to hear from a doctor if this might increase instances of kidney stones… Any thoughts?

Ruby
5 years 4 months ago
Oh wow! I’ve never seen anyone blog on this topic! I went through a serious dirt and rock eating phase for a while. You know how when you see someone do something really weird, you think, “how does that even get started?” Well, I had a uterine fibroid that caused me to bleed something like 12-15 days a month. I didn’t know it at the time. I just had these really bad periods. After a few months of this, I was growing weaker and weaker. One day, I came home from work and on a bookshelf right next to my… Read more »
Animanarchy
5 years 4 months ago
This makes me think of my recent wild catnip binge. I made tea with it a couple times in the past and was fairly indifferent to it. Then the other day I was walking down a trail and smelled some and it was irresistible. I immediately went about picking it, mostly the flowers, and putting it in my water bottle. Maybe I didn’t like it before because I used boiled water while lately I’ve only been using cold water. I had to keep refilling it because I was chugging it down. I looked it up online later and found out… Read more »
PrimalGrandma
PrimalGrandma
5 years 4 months ago
Your story was just fascinating to me. Especially the part about being able to SMELL stuff! Thank you for sharing! It just shows how different we all are! And what’s really sad is that sometimes that difference is construed as weird or sick or whatever even if it seems “natural” to us! Many years ago, I also had a major problem with fibroids — excessive bleeding got hemoglobin level down to 4.7. (Ended up with surgery but only after getting hemoglobin levels up to a safer range.) But I never had the urge you had to ingest rocks, dirt, minerals… Read more »
knifegill
knifegill
5 years 4 months ago

Some of my friends in grade school ate dirt regularly. I only chewed up sand when I face planted on the playground. I see no reason not to eat dirt if it’s clean, but I’ll try anything so don’t follow me!

Bill
5 years 4 months ago

Fulvic Acid. Look it up. Miracle dirt.

james
james
5 years 4 months ago

WHat has been you experience with Fulvic Acid? I have been taking Azomite Powder only.

WhatAboutJason
5 years 4 months ago

Hmmmmm I suppose you could easily slip some dirt into a primal smoothie

Lizzie B
Lizzie B
5 years 4 months ago

I fail to see how this is so “weird”. I take MezoTrace, essentially dirt packed into pill form. I feed there supplement to my horses too. My horses and dogs will dig and lick certain places here and just eat the dirt. I figured it was for the minerals. We do have clay in the soil, though so that makes sense too.

gman
gman
5 years 4 months ago

My dogs here in Texas do the same thing…what appears to be eating mud or
dirt…I thought they were insane…but
now…

Thrive Lancaster
5 years 4 months ago

Not too sure if eating spoonfuls of dirt will be on my list. Maybe I’ll ease into it by not washing the veggies out of my garden.

debbie_downer
debbie_downer
5 years 4 months ago

mmmm no.

onewomanband
onewomanband
5 years 4 months ago
This reminds me of a humorous essay by Roy Blount, Jr.: I Don’t Eat Dirt Personally. “I’m a Southerner who lives in the north,” Blount said, “so I have to explain lots of things. I picked up a New York Times and read: ‘Old Southern Custom of Eating Dirt Seen on the Wane.’ Not as many Southerners are eating dirt as used to. “I knew I was going to be asked about this at some fashionable soiree, and sure enough a woman with a crew cut came up to me and said, ‘I didn’t know that you ate dirt.’ There… Read more »
Dasbutch
Dasbutch
5 years 4 months ago

soil or earth but please, not dirt.

ECC
ECC
5 years 4 months ago

the difference being??

Dasbutch
Dasbutch
5 years 4 months ago

dirt is filth. soil and earth are nutrient rich plant nurseries.

Omar
Omar
5 years 4 months ago

this reminds me of a my dog eating grass sometimes (maybe weekly), why would this be?

Animanarchy
5 years 4 months ago

As far as I know, sometimes carnivores eat plant matter to help them throw up and purge their stomachs while other times they eat it to help cleanse their bowels in the same way fibre helps us. I think I might have read that on this site actually.

Animanarchy
5 years 4 months ago

I remember one time my friend and I were out playing in the forest with his dog and it ate a bunch of bark off of vines. We came back inside and started chasing it around a room and wrestling with it and when my friend was on his back putting the dog in a headlock with his legs it threw up, all over his upper body and face, including in his mouth.

Dawn
Dawn
5 years 4 months ago
What an interesting article! When I was about three years old, my mother tried houseplants and after seeing the dirt that she had baked in the oven for the plants, I was inspired to eat it. I am told I only took one bite and that was enough for me. It was probably the texture =) Now, for example when I cut lettuce from my garden, I don’t wash it. There may be a few flecks of dirt, and I make sure there aren’t [m]any bugs and such, but I figure that a little bit of dirt from my land… Read more »
Dawn
Dawn
5 years 4 months ago

And a funny story I forgot to post… our neighbor where we lived last year grew organic veggies in his backyard. He gave some lettuce to a couple college girls renting one of his houses. He later found the lettuce in the garbage and asked them what was wrong with it. They said it had dirt on it so they thought it had gone bad. Guess they were of the breed who thinks veggies grow on grocery shelves.

Aaron Blaisdell
5 years 4 months ago

It’s important to remember that the GI tract is technically entirely “outside” the body. We’re a tube within a tube. So a substance ingested does not enter the body until it crosses the intestinal barrier and into the lymphatic or the circulatory system.

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