A Man who eats Iron, Plastic & Glass


Dr. Sanjay Rathee

10/21/20233 min read

In the annals of bizarre medical cases, the story of Frederick Hoelzel stands as a truly extraordinary and perplexing one. This remarkable tale takes us into the world of pica, a rare and peculiar eating disorder characterized by the consumption of non-food items. But Hoelzel's case is a standout, challenging the limits of what the human body can endure.

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Frederick Hoelzel's saga began in the 1960s, in a small town in Michigan. Born with a condition known as pica, he exhibited an insatiable and dangerous appetite for non-food substances. While pica is not uncommon among children, Hoelzel's case was exceptional. He consumed everything from glass and steel wool to coins, rubber bands, and plastic. His unnerving dietary choices presented a real and immediate threat to his health.

The Enigma of Pica

Pica is a disorder characterized by the inexplicable urge to consume items with no nutritional value, such as dirt, chalk, or paper. It is often observed in children, pregnant women, and individuals with developmental disorders. However, Hoelzel's case was an extreme outlier in the realm of pica. While it's relatively common for children to explore the world through their mouths, most outgrow these tendencies as they mature. But Hoelzel's bizarre predilection for ingesting inedible objects persisted well into adulthood.

The reasons behind pica can vary widely. It's often considered a manifestation of an underlying psychological or nutritional issue. In many cases, it serves as a coping mechanism for emotional distress or a response to dietary deficiencies. However, in Hoelzel's case, the root causes of his compulsion remained a baffling mystery to medical professionals.

A Remarkable Endurance

What makes this case all the more astonishing is Hoelzel's seemingly miraculous ability to survive despite consuming such toxic and inedible items. His digestive system managed to withstand the onslaught of foreign objects, with x-rays revealing a shocking accumulation of these indigestible items in his stomach. In one astounding instance, surgeons removed a staggering 87 nails from his stomach.

This astonishing resilience of the human body, even in the face of what should have been lethal consumption, left medical experts dumbfounded. It's a testament to the remarkable adaptability and durability of our physiology, even under the most extraordinary circumstances. Yet, despite this remarkable survival, Hoelzel's health was in constant jeopardy due to his unusual eating habits.

Medical Marvel and Lifelong Struggles

Hoelzel's case baffled the medical community, leading to numerous surgeries to remove the non-food objects and prolonged hospital stays. He was under constant medical supervision, with doctors and psychologists struggling to comprehend the underlying causes of his compulsive consumption. Despite their best efforts, they were unable to entirely curb his appetite for the unconventional "meals."

For Hoelzel, life was a perpetual struggle against his own body's desires. His story raises questions about the complex interplay between mental health, physical health, and the enigmatic nature of human behavior. Pica is often seen as a manifestation of deeper psychological issues, but in Hoelzel's case, the root causes remained elusive.

The Enigma of Pica

Frederick Hoelzel's case is a stark reminder that the human body, under certain circumstances, can defy the bounds of what we consider possible. His insatiable appetite for non-food items remains one of the most enigmatic cases of pica on record. While pica is not uncommon, Hoelzel's extreme case pushes the boundaries of medical understanding and human resilience.

What drove Hoelzel to consume such an array of inedible objects remains a mystery that continues to intrigue the medical community. It serves as a stark reminder of the complexity of the human mind and the mysteries that still exist within the human body. While pica is often viewed as an anomaly, Hoelzel's case shines a light on the vast uncharted territory that remains within the realm of human health and behavior.


Frederick Hoelzel's story is a testament to the astounding capacity of the human body to endure and survive under the most perplexing circumstances. It is also a stark reminder of the challenges that the medical community faces when dealing with rare and enigmatic conditions like pica. Hoelzel's case demonstrates that even in the face of the most bizarre and inexplicable disorders, the human spirit can persevere. Despite his lifelong struggle, Hoelzel's story stands as a testament to the enduring mysteries of the human body and mind.

Stay connected with 'The Research Mind' for more captivating stories, strange science experiments, and the ever-evolving world of technology. In the pursuit of knowledge and discovery, we must always be mindful of the unintended consequences that may follow in the wake of our innovations.

Please like, share, and subscribe to our YouTube channel "The Research Mind"  (https://www.youtube.com/@TheResearchMind91). This story is accessible in both Hindi and English. Please view the video below for the Hindi version.

B006-हिंदी: A human who eats iron, plastic, & glass (मिट्टी, चॉक, या कागज़ खाने वाला इंसान)

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