Pica & Herbs (A Personal Account)

I just finished my fourth pregnancy, and for the first time in my life I experienced what many call “pregnancy pica”.  Pica loosely translates into someone craving non-food/non-nutritional substances to eat.  The issue spans geography.  It can be experienced by children, the mentally handicapped, the elderly, the pregnant, and the iron-deficient.  It is experienced for a lifetime or a season.  There are correlations, but not definite causation.

I first noticed it when I would put laundry detergent in the washer.  For some reason the strong scent brought out a type of craving impulse.  I did not exactly want to eat the detergent, but I did notice the scent gave off a distinct internal signal.  I felt it deep within my gut.  It was a similar feeling as to when I nurse, I get the urge to drink water.  My mouth does not go dry, for I do not experience any symptoms of dehydration. I am not dehydrated at all.  But I feel it in my gut, this deep craving for a glass of water.  I could point it to the microbiome, which is where my mind goes, but I am untrained to share such knowledge if there was any to begin with.

Weeks went by, each time I attempted to pinpoint what aromatic chemical was causing such a reaction.  It wasn’t until I decided to eat a few mint leaves right after putting in a new load of wash that I noticed the craving was sufficed.  It was definitely an ah-ha moment.  Mint is highly astringent, and for some reason beyond my current training it satisfied the deep craving initiated by the aromatics of the detergent.  I have lemon balm throughout my yard and tried that as well.  It also sufficed the craving.  We eat both herbs throughout the seasons and my body is used to their chemicals, but this was different.  It was a distinct astringency that met the pica craving.

I hope to dig deeper into the chemical components of these lamiaceae family herbs and see just where the connection lies. Beyond the aromatic response I am hoping to see a specific chemical connection. Traditionally herbs in the lamiaceae family are known as gentle digestive aids.  But to limit an herb to one ailment, or even one chemical to one response, is often amateur and short sighted.  I’ll attempt to look deeper into this as the weeks go on and will link to this any information I find.

 

References

Pica – Clinical Methods 3rd Edition 

 

 

 

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