Disease Index Homeopathy Papers

Homoeopathic Management of Pica

Written by Nahida Mulla

The author talks about the problem of Pica and gives the homeopathic remedies for it. Pica is a disorder characterized by an appetite for substances largely non-nutritive, e.g. metal, clay, coal, soil, faeces, chalk, paper, soap, ash, gum.

Pica is a disorder characterized by an appetite for substances largely non-nutritive, e.g. metal, clay, coal, soil, faeces, chalk, paper, soap, ash, gum etc. or an abnormal appetite for some things that may be considered foods such as flour, raw rice, starch, ice cubes, salt. In order for these actions to be considered Pica, they must persist for more than one month at an age where eating such objects is considered developmentally inappropriate (above 18 to 24 months of age).

Pica is seen in all the ages particularly in pregnant women, small children and those with developmental disabilities and mental retardation.

Pica occurs throughout the world predominantly in people who live in poverty and people living in the tropics and in tribe oriented societies.

Pica in children, while common, can be dangerous. Children eating painted plaster containing lead may suffer brain damage from lead poisoning.


  1. Mineral deficiency specially iron deficiency
  2. Traumatic events/ stress:
    • Maternal deprivation
    • Parental separation/ neglect
    • Child abuse
    • Disorganized family structure
    • Poor parent-child interaction
  3. Low socio-economic status

Clinical Features:

  1. Child with habit of eating substances like clay, dirt, stones, pebbles, hair, faeces, lead, plastic, pencil, erasers, fingernails, paper, paint chips, coal, chalk, wood, plaster, light bulbs, needles, string, cigarette, wire and burnt matches etc.
  2. A case with history of PICA may present with symptoms of:
    • Constipation
    • Chronic or acute, diffuse or focused abdominal pain
    • Nausea/ vomiting
    • Loss of appetite
  3. On examination, findings like :
    • Abdominal distension
    • Pallor
    • Iron deficiency anaemia which could be the cause of PICA
  4. Clinical presentation of PICA is variable and is associated with the specific nature of the resulting medical conditions and the indigested substances.
  5. Parasitic infestations are usually associated with PICA. Ascariasis is commonly seen in children with Pica.


  1. Amylophagia – consumption of starch
  2. Coprophagy – consumption of faeces
  3. Geophagy – consumption of soil, clay or chalk
  4. Hyalophagia – consumption of glass
  5. Pagophagia – pathological consumption of ice
  6. Trichophagia – consumption of hair or wool
  7. Urophagia – consumption of urine
  8. Xylophagia – consumption of wood.

Homoeopathic Management:

    1. Antimonium crudum:
      • Craving for raw food and vegetables
      • Loss of appetite
      • Bloating of abdomen after eating
      • Inability to bear heat of sun, verse from over exertion in the sun and from over-heating
      • Aversion to cold bathing and aggravation therefrom
      • Tendency to grow fat
      • Thick milky white-coated tongue
      • Thirstlessness
      • Craving and intolerance for acids, pickles and bread
      • Peevish, irritable, cannot bear to be touched or looked at


    1. Alumina:
      • Craving for starch, chalk, charcoal, cloves, coffee or tea grounds, raw rice, acids
      • Alumina is one of the chief antidotes for lead poisoning (complication of pica)
      • Thin delicate children
      • Dryness of mucus membranes and skin
      • Constipation, no desire for stools for number of days and soft stool requires great straining
      • Exhausted physically and mentally
      • Aversion to potatoes
      • Mild, cheerful disposition


    1. Calcarea carbonica:
      • Craving for chalk, charcoal, coal and pencils
      • Chilly patient, takes cold easily
      • Fat, fair, flabby
      • Pale, weak, easily tired
      • Head sweats profusely while sleeping
      • Tendency for lymphatic glandular enlargement
      • Desire for eggs, aversion to meat and milk
      • Sour smelling discharges
      • Fearful, shy, timid, slow and sluggish
      • Longing for fresh air


    1. Calcarea phosphorica:
      • Desires lime, slate, pencils, earth, chalk, clay etc
      • Colicky pain in abdomen while eating
      • Distended abdomen
      • Feeble digestion
      • Chilly patient, thin, emaciated, unable to stand, rickety
      • Easy perspiration
      • Slow in learning to walk
      • Aggravation from damp, cold weather, change of weather, mental exertion
      • Desires raw salt and smoked things
      • Restless, dissatisfied, desire to wander


    1. Cicuta virosa:
      • Abnormal appetite for chalk, charcoal, coal, cabbage, which are relished
      • Grinding of teeth
      • Chilly patient
      • Convulsive with tendency to bend backward
      • History of suppressed skin eruptions
      • Stupid, singing, dancing, crazy, makes strange gestures


    1. Natrum muriaticuam:
      • Craving for salt
      • Takes long time for food to digest
      • Worse from eating
      • Hot patient
      • Poorly nourished
      • Great emaciation (marked on neck), losing flesh while eating well
      • Oily, greasy face
      • Aversion to bread and fatty things


    1. Nitricum acidum:
      • Craving for lime, slate, pencil, papers and charcoal
      • Cracks in muco-cutaneous junction especially fissures in rectum and corners of mouth
      • Chilly patient, takes cold easily
      • Thin built, sickly
      • Desires fat and salt
      • Disposed to diarrhoea
      • Strong smelling urine
      • Head-strong, irritable, fearful, vindictive, sensitive to noise and light


    1. Nux vomica:
      • Craving for charcoal, pepper, chalk
      • Chilly patient, thin
      • Craves fats, spicy food
      • Tongue coated yellowish in the posterior part
      • Over sensitive to noise, odors, light or music
      • Nervous disposition
      • Quick, active, zealous and irritable
      • Impatient, spiteful with violent action


    1. Silicea:
      • Craving for lime, sand, raw foods
      • Extremely chilly patient, all symptoms worse by cold except stomach complaints which are better by cold
      • Profuse, offensive discharges
      • Sweats profusely especially on feet
      • Easy suppuration, glandular affinity
      • Large head and distended abdomen
      • Weak ankles, slow in learning to walk
      • Obstinate, head strong, cries when spoken kindly to
      • Nervous, apprehensive, over sensitive, irritable, fearful


About the author

Nahida Mulla

DR. NAHIDA M. MULLA M.D. is currently Principal, HOD repertory & PG Guide, HOD Pediatrics at A M.Shaikh Homoeopathic Medical College, Belgaum. Dr. Mulla is also a member of Karnataka State Wakf for Women"™s Development and a resource person for Continuing Medical Education. She was also a Resource person for the Re-orientation Programme for Teachers (Physiology & Biochemistry) at Government Homoeopathic Medical College Bangalore. Dr. Mulla has presented numerous scientific papers and contributes to many websites.


  • have you find any case for craving for ice.as my opinion PHOS. IS BEST MEDICINE for it.please share your valued experience. dr.vijay thekadi ahmedabad.

  • Hi! I have embarrassingly suffered from the craving of eating raw rice for the past 14 years… in fact, i am having a handful right now. My older kids laugh their heads off when i ask them to bring me my “rice fix”.
    As you suggest I will cross my fingers and try Aluminia and hope for the best. Thanx for a very well presented article and hopefully a cure for my teeth breaking habit.

  • Kindly intimate if there are any remedies for a child of 18 months eating hair in plenty, and feels happy to do so. Lots of hair is passed out in motion also. Thank God how much is still in the intestines?

  • Hi, I have had intense craving for sponges since I was about 6 and its been ongoing on and off for years. Im now 28 and I want to stop.
    What Can I do?

  • Coal obsessed the past couple months. Shisha coal to be exact. The kind used for smoking hookah. I mostly just chew it and grind it around my teeth but am swallowing more and more each time. As well as that I also crave the smell of gasoline and indulge nightly for the past two years now!! Why just coal and gasoline and what on earth can I take to try and alleviate these insane cravings?? Doctor-out of the question. I have children and cannot risk people seeing it as child endangerment or some nonsense (concerning the gas I mean)
    Someone please help???

  • My daughters shows symptoms from a couple of categories mentioned above. In that case, do we use all the remedies of the categories she falls in to? Generally, what is the dosage and how often we need to use remedies? Thanks

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