Hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH), also known as benzene hexachloride (BHC) (commonly known as 666 powder in China), is a lethal pesticide. If eaten it will damage the human body or even cause death. But a rural Chinese woman enjoys eating HCH. She has been addicted to this pesticide for four or five years. HCH is not the only lethal item on her menu. This incredible woman also likes drinking gasoline and diesel, which are deadly for normally people. Amazingly all these virulent “foods” have not harmed her at all.
According to the Heilongjiang Daily, this 46 year old woman, Cheng Shumei, lives in Datong Village of Honggang District, Daqing City, Heilongjiang Province. Every villager there knows Cheng for her astonishing eating habits.
Cheng Shumei said that she has been fond of pungent odors since she was a kid. She used to work for the village by spraying pesticide. That was when she found she liked the smell of pesticide. She also liked to smell gasoline and diesel. Whenever she had the chance, she would sniff gasoline or diesel cans and enjoy the odors.
One day in 1995, a neighbor went to her home by motorcycle. The strong gasoline odor gave Cheng Shumei a strong craving. She could not refrain herself from smelling the odor, so she obtained a can for herself and kept it at home. Later, when simply smelling the gasoline was not satiating enough, she could not help but take a drink. Thus Cheng began a habit that she cannot stop. Cheng says, “The smell of the gasoline is simply aromatic to me, much like alcohol is to men.”
Cheng told the reporter that at the beginning she drank gasoline on the sly. At that time she had to find excuses to ask her neighbors for gasoline, and hid the bottle in the corner of her house. Later, when gasoline became more difficult to obtain, she switched to diesel which was easier to get as her family had purchased a tractor for farming.
Surprisingly, Cheng has developed a refined taste for diesel. She can tell the quality of the diesel by the taste. “I can tell if the diesel is purified once I taste it,” Chen said.
When being asked how she feels when drinking gas, Cheng smiled, and said that it warms her throat and makes her feel great. The only bad reaction she has experienced thus far was an itchy throat when she drinks too much. She drinks about one Liang (50 grams) a day. Without gas Cheng would feel sick and uncomfortable all over, accompanied by continuous choking hiccups.
About four or five years ago, Cheng suddenly changed her preference. One day, while looking for something in her storage room, she caught the scent of HCH powder. The odor was so appealing that she tried some of it. “It was so delicious! Even better than gas and diesel.” From then on, she gave up gas and switched to HCH powder.
Cheng purchases HCH from a local seed-supply station. Those who work for the station all know her hobby. Every time they warn her that the poisonous powder may kill her if she goes on eating it. But still, she cannot resist the temptation.
After several years, Cheng has been very experienced with eating HCH powder. At the beginning, she simply ate the powder with a small spoon. Later, she found it tastes better when made to dough with flour and water. She also seasons melon seeds with HCH powder. “It is crunchy and tasty,” She said..
Cheng said that she has to eat HCH 20-30 times a day, a mouthful at a time. Often times, she carries a pack of powder with her so that she can eat it whenever she feels like it. Knowing that it is lethal pesticide, Cheng tried to quit. But if she lives without it for even a single day, her chronic hiccups return.
“In the past few years, I have been poisoned five or six times, with the most recent time only a few days ago,” Cheng Shumei said. On that particular night, her craving for HCH was extremely strong. She sneaked into the storage room to satiate her craving, and ingested a lot of HCH powder. Soon she became dizzy and feverish, and her head felt heavy. But she recovered after getting some sleep..
Cheng said that she wants to give up this weird habit. “I have seen many doctors, but no one could diagnose my problems. My best hope is to find a hospital with technologies advanced enough to cure my strange disease and stop my HCH addiction.”