'I like its earthy flavour': Mother tells of how she has eaten rocks off the ground for more than 20 years
18:44 GMT, 18 May 2012
A woman has told of how she eats rocks that have been picked up off the ground.
For more than 20 years, Teresa Widener, a 45-year-old woman from Bedford, Virginia, has regularly sucked the dirt off rocks before crunching them between her teeth.
The mother of two, who works with special needs children, suffers from pica which is a disorder that causes people to eat inedible objects.
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Bizarre: Teresa Widener from Bedford, Virginia, has revealed she enjoys eating rocks that have been picked up off the ground. She enjoys the inedible object's 'earthy' taste and how they crunch in her mouth
She told ABC that she has been able to break rocks in her mouth 'pretty easily' for more than 20 years.
'I like that it has an earthy flavour', she said. 'If I know I have some at my house I feel better, just knowing they're there…they're there for me when I'm upset or whatever.
'Mmm-hmm, yeah. They crunch on my teeth.'
Sometimes, she neglects to wash the natural objects because she craves the dirt that is attached to them.
Hungry: The mother of two has said that she tends to feel 'better' when she has a supply of rocks in her house
Content: The pica-sufferer is also susceptible to eating 'toilet paper and clothing' according to experts
Ms Widener said that while she enjoys the taste of it, she also eats rocks to help treat her iron deficiency.
She also regularly turns the larger rocks into bite-size pieces by hammering them down in her kitchen.
She stores the smaller stones in a container that is normally used to contain pills.
Dr Jordana Mansbacher, a clinical social worker and therapist, said her behaviour is not abnormal as pica sufferers tend to 'eat anything'.
The condition, which is a considered a mental health disease, takes its name from the Latin word for magpie which is a bird that eats just about anything.
'They will eat toilet paper,' Dr Mansbacher said. 'They will eat carpet. They will eat paper. They will eat wood. They will eat clothing. They will eat skin. They will eat metal.'
Bite-size: In order to create smaller-sized stones, she uses a hammer to cut the rocks down
Craving: The condition takes its name frmo the Latin word for magpie, which is a bird that eats anything
Dr Mansbacher said that eating rocks, and soil, does not offer any health benefits.
In doing so, one can even introduce parasites into their system. Rocks can also puncture or tear internal tissue in the body which can lead to bleeding.
She also attributed the unorthodox practice to the cravings that pregnant women get because they often feel like iron, which is found in the soil attached to the rock.
But Ms Widener is not pregnant.
It is not, however, the only unusual pica-related behaviour that has emerged in recent months.
In March, Nicole Bonner, 22, revealed that she had eaten around 1,000 sponges after developing a strange craving for soap during her pregnancy five years ago.