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How to Cure an Ice Addiction with Molasses

An anemic woman reports that her ice addiction disappeared when she started consuming iron-rich blackstrap molasses for another condition.

It is not uncommon for us to hear from people who feel they have an ice addiction. Usually they have no idea why they crave ice so much. Sometimes crunching on ice actually damages their teeth.

We suspect that few of these people ask a doctor about this behavior. They may be embarrassed by it, or they may not realize that it could be a sign of inadequate nutrition. In some instances, a doctor, physician assistant or nurse practitioner might not recognize ice cravings as a classic example of pica (Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, Feb., 2016).

What to Do About Ice Addiction?

Q. I drive my family and coworkers crazy with my ice addiction. I’m 47 and have craved chewing ice since I was a teenager. I chew on ice more when I’m stressed. It’s amazing I haven’t broken any teeth yet.

I’ve always had heavy periods and low energy. A Red Cross nurse told me I was too anemic to give blood but I never made the connection between iron deficiency and craving ice.

Recently I started consuming molasses (as a home remedy for a different ailment) and almost overnight I no longer had the ice cravings. It was a pleasant side benefit. I put molasses in my almond milk-very tasty and a good source of iron.

Consider Iron or Zinc Deficiency:

A. Craving nonfood items such as cornstarch, baking soda, clay or ice is called pica. This behavior may signal iron or zinc insufficiency (American Journal of Human Biology, Jan-Feb., 2015). Correcting the deficiency often calms the craving.

Where to Find Iron:

While you could take an iron supplement, some people don’t tolerate them well. Blackstrap molasses is rich in iron, with 3.5 mg per tablespoon. It also supplies ample zinc. Keep in mind, however, that molasses is also high in sugar.

Other foods that are good sources of iron include liver, clams, oysters, mussels and other shellfish. If such foods don’t appeal, you may want to consider a multivitamin and mineral supplement.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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