Carrot addiction

Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 1996 Oct;30(5):698-700. doi: 10.3109/00048679609062670.


Objective: A case report of carrot addiction is presented with a review of the literature and comment on the role of beta carotene in addictive behaviour.

Clinical picture: The addiction occurred in a 49-year-old woman under conditions of stress due to marital problems, leading to a depressive illness and increased smoking. The patient maintained that the sensations of carrot craving and withdrawal were quite distinct from those associated with smoking.

Treatment: The patient was advised to record her daily carrot consumption.

Outcome: The patient did not return for several months, but stopped eating carrots after an operation, at which time she also stopped smoking.

Conclusion: Compusive carrot eating, regarded as a rare condition, has received scant documentation, unlike hypercarotenemia due to unusual diets or food fads. Nervousness, craving, insomnia, waterbrash and irritability are associated with withdrawal from excessive carrot eating. The basis for the addiction is believed to be beta carotene, found in carrots. Does carrot eating, an aggressively oral activity, merely act as a behavioural substitute for smoking? Or does beta carotene contain a chemical element that replicates the addictive component of nicotine? Further study of this unusual but intriguing addiction may reveal more about the basis of all addictions, with particular implications for the cessation of cigarette smoking.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology*
  • Daucus carota*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / complications
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology
  • beta Carotene*


  • beta Carotene