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Query from: Nisha, USA, 03/06/06
Topic: NUTRITION      Submitted on: Ammas.com
Subject: Eating Multani mitti

Hi i am a 23 year old girl. I have a very strange urge to eat mud. I use to eat slate pen when i was a small girl and slowly it converted into eating multani mitti. Can you breif me about consuming multani mitti, positive and negative effects? Sometimes i eat black mud also.

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Response from: C. Raj, United Kingdom,   
Council Member on Ammas.com
The habit of eating clay, mud or dirt is known as geophagy. Some experts lump it into the same category as pica, which is the abnormal urge to eat coins, paint, soap or other non-food items.

Cultures worldwide have practiced geophagy for centuries, from the ancient Greeks to Native Americans. In most places the habit is limited to women, especially women who are pregnant or of childbearing age.

The practice is common in sub-Saharan Africa, and many anthropologists believe geophagy was brought to the United States by African slaves. It is now most commonly found among African-American women in the rural South.

Though the practice is rarely if ever recommended by medical professionals, some nutritionists now admit the habit of eating clay may have some real health benefits.

"It is possible that the binding effect of clay would cause it to absorb toxins," said Dr. David L. Katz, nutrition expert at the Yale School of Medicine and a medical contributor for ABC News.

Clay's ability to absorb plant toxins is well documented. Jared Diamond, professor of geography and physiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and author of "Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies" has written on clays that are especially good at binding with plant toxins. Diamond notes that many traditional cultures cook food like potatoes, acorns and bread in clay as a way of protecting against the toxic alkaloids and tannic acids that would otherwise make these foods inedible.

Glycoalkaloids, for example, are commonly found in potatoes and can cause diarrhea, vomiting and neurological problems in humans. But when South American Indians eat these potatoes in combination with alkaloid-binding clays, the potatoes are safe to consume, according to Diamond.

Dirt: The World's First Mineral Supplement

Medical professionals studying geophagy are also considering whether the minerals in some clays are especially beneficial for pregnant women.

"Mineral supplements are a pretty new phenomenon," said Katz. "Mineral demand goes up substantially during pregnancy."

"Soil is nature's multi-mineral supply," he added, "and nature favors behaviors that lead to survival. It may simply be that women who had this craving were more likely to survive and pass on this tendency to their offspring."

Mineral content in clays vary from region to region, but many contain high levels of calcium, iron, copper and magnesium. These are essential minerals for the human diet but even more critical during pregnancy.

Erica Gibson-Staneland, an anthropologist at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., has found that geophagy is more often found in cultures that do not practice dairying. Dairy products like milk and cheese would provide important dietary calcium ? when these are absent, pregnant women may seek other sources.

"It's about women lacking nutrients or women in impoverished conditions who don't have access to health care, adapting," said Gibson-Staneland.

"In Africa, they eat the dirt from termite mounds," she added, noting that the dirt and clays from termite mounds are rich in minerals.

My Dirt Is Better Than Your Dirt

Because not all clays are created equal, women who eat clay are very particular about which clays they consume. Diamond notes that many traditional cultures cook food like potatoes, acorns and bread in clay as a way of protecting against the toxic alkaloids and tannic acids that would otherwise make these foods inedible.

Glycoalkaloids, for example, are commonly found in potatoes and can cause diarrhea, vomiting and neurological problems in humans. But when South American Indians eat these potatoes in combination with alkaloid-binding clays, the potatoes are safe to consume, according to Diamond.

Dirt: The World's First Mineral Supplement

Medical professionals studying geophagy are also considering whether the minerals in some clays are especially beneficial for pregnant women.

"Mineral supplements are a pretty new phenomenon," said Katz. "Mineral demand goes up substantially during pregnancy."

"Soil is nature's multi-mineral supply," he added, "and nature favors behaviors that lead to survival. It may simply be that women who had this craving were more likely to survive and pass on this tendency to their offspring."

Mineral content in clays vary from region to region, but many contain high levels of calcium, iron, copper and magnesium. These are essential minerals for the human diet but even more critical during pregnancy.

Erica Gibson-Staneland, an anthropologist at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., has found that geophagy is more often found in cultures that do not practice dairying. Dairy products like milk and cheese would provide important dietary calcium ? when these are absent, pregnant women may seek other sources.

"It's about women lacking nutrients or women in impoverished conditions who don't have access to health care, adapting," said Gibson-Staneland.

"In Africa, they eat the dirt from termite mounds," she added, noting that the dirt and clays from termite mounds are rich in minerals.

My Dirt Is Better Than Your Dirt

Because not all clays are created equal, women who eat clay are very particular about which clays they consume. There is a negative social stereotype associated with anyone who would consume dirt right out of the ground. Many of those familiar with the practice disdain "dirt-eaters" as poor, ignorant or malnourished.

"There's definitely a stigma," said Gibson-Staneland. "Cleanliness is next to godliness, so you don't want to be known as someone who puts dirt in their mouth."

And there may be medical problems associated with over-consumption of clay. Constipation is a common complaint among those who eat clay regularly, due to the same binding effect that makes it an effective anti-diarrhea remedy.

"It will make you constipated," Joiner admits.

For women who are concerned about vitamin and mineral deficiencies during pregnancy, Katz offers this advice: "Take a prenatal vitamin."

But those who have been eating clay all their lives are unlikely to stop, and now some experts are unlikely to encourage them to give up the habit.

Salt, notes Gibson-Staneland, is also a mineral, one that is found on almost every restaurant table in America.

"If most humans readily use water and salt," asks Gibson-Staneland, "why not utilize clay as a food source if it is beneficial?"

Information Source- http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?…

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Response from: Gaz ,   
Registered Member on Ammas.com
Fullers earth contains alumina, silica, iron oxides, lime, magnesia, and water, in extremely variable proportions. It is likely that you are missing one of these minerals and you should see a doctor to find out what and find other ways of sourcing it.

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Response from: Mrs. Sai Sai,   
Council Member on Ammas.com
Nisha,

Please see this link for a similar query

http://www.bawarchi.com/health/quer…

This is known as pica. It has variable causes like nutritional and psychological. Nutritional anaemia is one of the common conditions associated with this. You could get deworming done.

If this habit persist consult your doctor for the management of the condition and for the complications if any.

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Response from: Badshah .,   
Council Member on Ammas.com
Dear Nisha, Thes ehabits of eating mud or other odd thigngs develop during childhood.These are due to stress and anxiety which in your case has increased living in usa.It is Not adviseable to eat multani mitti or mud.

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