Calabash Chalk is a type of clay( Earth) that occurs naturally and is mostly consumed by the people in West African countries. It is found in Nigeria predominantly and other African countries, but can also be found in some ethnic stores in the US, UK, and Canada. Both men and women consume calabash chalk though it is mostly consumed by women, especially pregnant women.
Pregnant women in these West African countries consume It for pleasure and also as a cure for nausea. The act of eating clay, earth, or chalk is called Geophagia. This practice can be linked with medication, religion, and dieting.
Calabash chalk has different names depending on the country and ethnic group. It is called Calabar stone/chalk in English and kaolin/argile or craie in French. In South Africa, It is called umcako in Zulu, shilè in Ghana, mabele in Congo, In Nigeria, it is called by many names (nzu by the Igbos, ndom by the Efik & Ibibio, and eko by the Bini & Edo people.
Calabash chalk contains aluminum silicate hydroxide a very high concentration of lead. 1mg/kg according to the European Union is the amount of lead food should contain but Calabash chalk contains 10-50mg/kg. It also contains arsenic and chromium, endrin, endosulfan 11, silicon, alpha lindane, aluminum, and persistent organic pollutants.
Health Benefits of calabash chalk.
According to research, consuming calabash chalk doesn’t have any health benefits except for three things that could be resolved in different ways.
1. Proves iron and calcium deficiency
Medically, it has been proven that craving for calabash chalk is prove that the body needs calcium and iron. However, that doesn’t mean it should be consumed as a source of calcium and iron because calabash chalk doesn’t contain either of them.
This proves you can rather go in for oranges as a source of calcium and beetroot as a great source of iron and not the calabash chalk itself.
2. Treatment for nausea.
Pregnancy comes with nausea which may cause constant vomiting and spitting. Pregnant women most especially consume this as a cure for nausea which works just fine but then it only works temporarily which means that a pregnant woman has to constantly consume calabash chalk to keep away nausea.
However, it should be noted that having nausea as a pregnant woman isn’t harmful in any way but for the fact that it makes the woman feel uncomfortable.
3. Helps against acne
Though scientific or medical explanation as to how this happens has not been discovered, it has been proven that calabash chalk helps for acne and makes the skin smoother.
Uses of nzu (Calabash Chalk)
• Used as a cure for nausea
• Birth control
• Wound healing
Side Effects of nzu (Calabash Chalk)
1. Affects the Blood.
It alters red blood cell counts and hemoglobin concentration in the blood. Consuming calabash chalk, in the long run, may lead to blood shortage and other iron deficiency diseases.
2. Harmful effects on the digestive system
Generally, all geopathic materials, that includes calabash chalk, clay, earth, and chalk have a devastating effect on the digestive system as it makes digestion very difficult.
3. Huge lead content
Nzu(Calabash Chalk) contains an excess amount of lead and too much consumption of Lead can lead to gastritis, constipation, nausea, vomiting, and even ulcers.
4. Affect unborn child
Lead is not healthy for a pregnant woman and so an increased amount of lead during pregnancy affects the baby greatly. It can lead to neurological damage to the baby, a high risk of cognitive underdevelopment, reduced IQ, and worst of all it could lead to a miscarriage.
5. Affects bone health and growth
A research carried out proved that nzu can cause de-mineralization in the bone thereby causing damage to bone growth can also alter growth.
6. Moral Effects
According to research carried out in Nigeria and other West African countries, calabash chalk is very addictive. Many testify that once they started eating chalk, it has become almost impossible to stop. it almost feels like their menu is not complete without clay.
Geophagic materials are not healthy to be consumed, they have nothing to offer the human body and so it is advised not to consume them.