LONDON — Two Czech psychiatrists report that three carrot-chomping patients suffered withdrawal symptoms when they tried going cold turkey. The three ate so many carrots their skins turned orange.
The cases of carrot-craving Czechs, who "lapsed into heightened irritability" when supplies ran low, were described in the August issue of the respected British Journal of Addiction.
One 40-year-old man turned to carrots instead of cigarettes but was "soon eating carrots constantly, consuming up to five bunches a day," Dr. Ludek Cerny reported.
"Whenever the image of carrots entered his mind, or whenever he happened to catch sight of them, he immediately imagined himself eating them and started yearning for them."
A 38-year-old nurse, who ate 10 extra-large carrots every day, hoarded shavings for the winter in case she could not find carrots.
Cerny and Dr. Karel Cerny of the Psychiatric Clinic in Prague speculated that carrots may contain an "active substance conducive to drug addiction" but did not speculate on what it was.
Dr. Lawrence Price, a psychiatrist at Yale University, commented that carrot abusers he has treated were anorexic people who chose carrots instead of high-calorie foods.
"This sounds like a bizarre fixation on food, but it's a new one for me," Price said by telephone.
Dr. Andrew Johns, a senior lecturer in psychiatry of addiction at St. George's Medical School in London, said by telephone it sounds more like a behavioral disorder than true addiction.
He said carrots are 95% water, with fiber and carotene, which is what makes them orange.
"I wouldn't recommend putting health notices on carrots," he said.