Pica is the craving and purposive consumption of substances not culturally defined as food. Hippocrates first reported on this phenomenon in 400 BCE, and it has subsequently been described by investigators throughout the world. The term pica came into use in the 6th century, taking its name from the magpie (Pica pica), a bird thought to have an indiscriminate appetite.

There are three main types of pica. Geophagy (geophagia) is the consumption of earth. This includes soil and other earth-rich items such as adobe, pottery, or bean stones (clumps of earth among dried beans). Amylophagy (amylophagia) is the consumption of raw starches, including cornstarch, laundry starch, uncooked rice, and flour. Pagophagy (pagophagia) is the consumption of very large quantities of ice or freezer frost. Other common ...

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