Q. What are the health implications of consuming large quantities of cornstarch?

A. A person who craves cornstarch might have pica. This condition is frequently triggered by iron or zinc deficiency. We have heard from readers hooked on carrots, radishes, ice chips and popcorn. The cravings may disappear once the deficiency is corrected.

Join Over 90,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

Each week we send two free email newsletters with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies and a preview of our award-winning radio show. Join our mailing list and get the information you need to make confident choices about your health.

  1. Sanaughtra
    Reply

    I started eating cornstarch after I had my oldest son in 1989. I was really craving dirt the whole time that I was pregnant with him. But I didn’t eat any. To this day my mouth waters when I smell dirt, see dirt, or just think about dirt. My Grandmother told me that I was missing some kind of mineral in my diet. She also told me that when pregnant women had unusual cravings back in her time, they would eat the plaster off the walls. I started taking vitamins, but every now and again I will have about two to three spoonfuls of cornstarch. I’m a Type ll Diabetic and I believe the cornstarch increases my blood sugars. Does anyone have any information about this?

  2. Josie
    Monroe, NC
    Reply

    Hi, I used to consume a box of cornstarch a day.. Argo was my favorite. I would buy about four boxes at a time from specific stores to ensure they all had that fresh, corny taste. I had put on a lot of weight because starch is nothing but pure carbs. I was very anemic. I had to have two blood transfusions because I had half the amount of blood in my body.

    The root cause turned out to be a huge fibroid tumor in my uterus. After having a hysterectomy the cravings ceased like magic. For 15 years I was pica free. In the past month, though, I have started eating cornstarch again. I just had blood work done a week ago and everything is normal. But a few times a day I will eat a spoonful of starch. I think the stress of school has turned me back to something that used to be comforting to me. I never though I would ever start eating cornstarch again. It can become a learned behavior without being anemic.

    Some people might be embarrassed to tell their doctor that they eat cornstarch, but most doctors won’t judge, and a simple blood test can answer many questions and help you become pica free. I ate ice and starch from the age of 15 to 35. You can break free. As for me, I’m not going to eat any more starch.

  3. Sharon
    Opelika ala
    Reply

    I am 46 n I eat a box of starch every other day I am so addicted to it as well I want help to stop this crave I know it’s not good for me but it’s like I have to have it and it do stop me from using the bathroom but it’s like I’ll say I’m not going to eat anymore when I can’t use it n soon as I do use it I want my starch back somebody please pray for me how about we pray for each other !!

  4. Princess
    Reply

    I’m addicted to Corn Starch. I’ve tried to stop numerous times. I have gained so much weight, I’m anemic and might have to have a blood transfusion.

    • Josie
      Monroe, NC
      Reply

      If you can, go to the Dr and have some blood work done. If you are lacking in a mineral, the Dr can prescribe iron pills for you. I don’t recommend going to the store and buying them to take on your own. My sister was very anemic for a long time and her Dr prescribed iron pills to take three times a day. It wasn’t just a matter of taking the pills. She could not eat certain foods before and after taking the pills because those foods affected the absorption. Let a Dr advise you on how much to take, if it is indeed what you need.

  5. Ellie A.
    Menifee, CA
    Reply

    I am really surprised that there are so many others with that craving. I used to eat the lumps out of my mom’s Argo corn starch- just the lumps. I did that back in the 60’s; I loved the crunch.
    At any rate I am glad I stopped, but I was curious to know if I was alone in doing that. I see now that I wasn’t. I remember my mother’s disapproval to this day. Anyway, I suppose I simply grew out of it when I approached puberty and had more control over my diet.

  6. quala
    las vegas
    Reply

    Does anyone get a yeast infection when eating cornstarch??? I have been eating cornstarch for a while, and now all of a sudden I am getting yeast infections

  7. quala
    las vegas
    Reply

    Does anyone get a yeast infection when eating cornstarch???

  8. Daria
    Ontario
    Reply

    I prefer Birds custard powder. So far I’ve eaten 50 cans (yes, I count them). I even have a big plastic box under my bed where I go to the grocery store, buy about 10 at a time and pour it in. Then late in the night, I sit down on my bed and much away. I finish it in less than a week. I have stopped eating regular foods most of the time because it doesn’t taste as good and I only eat birds custard powder.

    I know I’m slowly going mad but I don’t know what to do.

    • Terry Graedon
      Reply

      It is very likely that your body is lacking minerals–either iron or zinc. Replenishing them may remove the cravings. You could ask your doctor to check your iron level for you.

  9. Tasha
    Georgia
    Reply

    I am a 46 year old woman who has been eating cornstarch for over 20+ years, now it stopping me from using the restroom, I don’t go for at least for four day at a time, can someone please help me.

    • Terry Graedon
      Reply

      Ask you doctor to test you for anemia and zinc deficiency. If the deficiency can be corrected, often the craving will be controllable.

  10. Donetta
    Washington, DC
    Reply

    I’m 41 years old and I eat corn starch. I really want to stop I really need help with this. Its truly an addiction.

  11. Felica
    Reply

    I eat so much starch and I wanna quit. I’m so addicted.

  12. Shakita
    atlanta
    Reply

    I’m a 41 yes old female that eats at least 4 boxes a week of argo….I try to stop

  13. Qualandria
    orangeburg,sc
    Reply

    I have been eating starch since I was pregnant with my oldest son and he will be 9 in Dec I am 27 years old and I eat a container if starch everyday I drink a lot of water but if I don’t have starch I will get mad and don’t talk to nobody until I get some and I have it real bad I want to stop but it is so hard somebody please help me and if I don’t have no starch I will not eat regular food please help me I am addicted to starch

    • monique
      grenada,ms
      Reply

      Hi. My name is Monique….I use to do the same thing U did…..how I stop my cravings is like if I don’t have any I will eat regular food in the place of cornstarch just get my mind off of it…..it’s a mind thing….when U get that craving and U don’t have any starch eat things like pasta, crackers, anything that has starch in it that will give Ur body that starchy taste and Ur cravings will go away…it’s not easy but like I said, it’s a mind thing….

  14. amiesha`
    columbus,oh
    Reply

    Im a 24 year old female and i’ve been eating starch for as long as i could remember. Try to do whatever you can to get rid of the craving. at 21 i almost lost my life and had to get blood transfusions the starch is to thick and will clogg you up

  15. sharee
    newark nj
    Reply

    I have been eating cornstarch for about 12 years and I love it. However, the cravings come and go but I’ve been told I am anemic. I refuse to take iron pills because they make me sick. The only advice I can give is to not swallow it. I chew it and spit it out. The taste is none other than marvelous. I will not stop eating it even though I am embarrassed when people ask me why I am eating it. I am addicted and because I am at work most of the day I only eat about one container a week. I don’t travel with it but if I get a craving I will stop by the nearest grocery store. I eat Argo cornstarch in the yellow container they stopped making the boxes. I use to eat the box and add ice in the box because I want the crunch. I can’t eat it from every store because it tastes different so I have a few stores in my neighborhood I buy it from.

  16. tiffany
    Baltimore
    Reply

    Yes I love starch I eat all day everyday why do I crave it? I want to stop eating it I go thru a box of starch in 2 days I go crazy when I run out like I am now help me please..

    • An-gee
      FL
      Reply

      same here I eat a box in one to two days, I do drink plenty of water, but I cough a lot when I do eat it. I do know that my iron is low…just hate taking pills, but if my health is h=going to be effective by eating it I will stop I have made it to see 51yrs and I would love to see more years…..

    • Josie
      Monroe, NC
      Reply

      You might want to consider still taking care of that anemia. The iron pills might be making you feel sick because of certain foods you’re eating or not eating before or after you take it. I hated taking iron pills, and the anemia got so bad that my Dr told me to go to the emergency room because I was at high risk for having a heart attack. Please be careful. It’s good you’re not swallowing the starch because it can really put on the pounds. Good luck.

  17. Geronda S.
    Mississippi
    Reply

    I am almost fifty my aunts use to eat cornstarch when I was young. About 12 or 13 years ago I started eating starch and it is only getting worse. Some days I might not eat but once a day because of my eating starch I have it in every room in my home if I am leaving for a visit to one of my family members home most of the time I take it with me but they all know so they keep some just in case of a craving if go out of town I take it with me I can eat a container of cornstarch in 2 days it’s crazy. I have stopped but when I go back to eating it I eat a whole lot more some one please help me.

    • The People's Pharmacy
      Reply

      Ask your doctor to check if you are low in iron or zinc. Correcting a deficiency can reduce or eliminate the craving.

What Do You Think?

We invite you to share your thoughts with others, but remember that our comment section is a public forum. Please do not use your full first and last name if you want to keep details of your medical history anonymous. A first name and last initial or a pseudonym is acceptable. Advice from other commenters on this website is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. Stopping medication suddenly could result in serious harm. We expect comments to be civil in tone and language. By commenting, you agree to abide by our commenting policy and website terms & conditions. Comments that do not follow these policies will not be posted.