A new documentary is shedding some light on a highly unknown tradition that may seem odd to some. The documentary is called “Eating White Dirt” and that is exactly what it is all about. A rock called kaolin is what white dirt really is and it is said to have medicinal properties for things such as dysentery, cholera, and diarrhea. It is also found in many different everyday items such as toothpaste, china, paper and paint.
Adam Forrester directed the documentary. He got the inspiration when he was grocery shopping and found small baggies of a white chalk that was for sale. He asked the clerk what it was and the clerk told him that people ate it so he decided that he wanted to investigate this a little further. Eating this dirt is known as geophagy.
Anthropoligists have a theory that this all started with slaves that were brought over to the US. Forrester interviewed women who lived in rural areas in the South and found that many of them ate the white dirt every day. One woman named Tammy Wright says that she eats it every day and she has lost over 60 pounds because of it.
Along with eating kaolin, it’s medicinal properties can be used by mixing it with water and applying it to the skin. This is done when they need a wet dressing applied. It can help to heal ulcers or pain in the mouth due to radiation treatments. It is also used in certain tests in labs that help to diagnose diseases.
There have been no observed side effects from eating kaolin or using it as a topical pain reliever although it may cause constipation in children. It should never be inhaled as severe lung problems may occur.