Eating disorders: Focus on anorexia

Anorexia seems to have existed since the dawn of time. Whether it is because of religion, health reasons, obsessive concern about weight, hormonal dysfunction or other reasons, people lose their lives by literally starving themselves to death, even though they lack nothing. If for a long time we attributed anorexia or bulimia to a kind of girlish mania that does not want to gain weight, we now know that the problem is much bigger than just looking like a very thin female ideal.

Who is most affected by anorexia?

It is known, for example, that this phenomenon does not mainly affect girls. Indeed, boys are sometimes affected by anorexia or bulimia. In addition, there are genetic reasons for hereditary problems: half of identical twins will suffer from anorexia together, compared to 10% of identical twins. Families where the image of the girl has to be perfect, slim, organised, overly clean… can contribute to the development of this disease. This is all the more true if there are also problems of divorce, parental conflicts and sometimes even domestic violence. If, in addition, the person is unable to express her emotions and feelings and keeps her unhappiness deep inside, it is very likely that this behaviour will lead to depression and phases of anorexia nervosa.

The complexity of eating disorders

We think we know everything about this subject, but in reality we know nothing and we know exactly everything there is to know. The person with anorexia suffers. Anxious about getting fat, they want to control she wants to get rid of her body, the food and everything that disturbs her. She does not feel sick, denies the illness and the consequences of her behaviour. She no longer eats easily, she makes herself lose weight by taking laxatives and diuretics.

When the body is put to the test

The daily fasting disrupts her hormonal secretions, unless they are already out of balance and cause anorexia. The girl has no more periods, and it is a vicious circle. No more menstruation means less secretion of certain hormones and a higher level of opiate in the body. A certain addiction is felt. The body demands not to eat to get its dose of opiate. The circle closes and the anorexia kills.

An integrative approach to treating anorexia

It is essential that we look at this illness and do everything possible to help the person concerned. Parents, friends, relatives, doctors, psychiatrists and nurses… we all have to act to improve the lives of our anorexic children or friends. Treating anorexia with natural treatments may not be enough. It is better to use an integrative approach, involving different specialists, to treat the person with anorexia. This means that the person must be referred to a doctor and, if necessary, a multidisciplinary team. Once the treatment is in place, i.e. a possible intake of medication, therapeutic follow-up and care by a nutritionist, there is nothing to prevent consulting a naturopath, a sophrologist, an acupuncturist or others, to facilitate the recovery.

Some dietary changes to adopt:

The spirulina because it is of a high nutritional level. The omega 3because they facilitate the absorption of nutrients. Magnesium: Hypomagnesemia is an important and often overlooked electrolyte abnormality that occurs in patients with eating disorders. However, the first step is to restore an adequate diet. This is difficult when we know that anorexics refuse to eat. Especially when they are offered a high-calorie diet. In addition, to facilitate this work, it is advisable to offer foods rich in fibre: fruit and vegetables. At the same time, plants can be given to help detoxify the body: Milk Thistle, Dandelion, etc. Secondly, avoid white sugar, refined flours, preservatives, colourings..

Can acupuncture help people with eating disorders?

Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine. Basically, an acupuncturist uses sterile needles on specific points on the body. The aim is to improve general health. In a 2014 study, participants with anorexia nervosa received either acupuncture or acupressure twice a week for three weeks. Then once a week for a further three weeks. In summary, the participants found that after trying acupuncture, their preoccupation with food decreased. In addition, they felt a sense of relaxation throughout the treatment.

Older research suggests that integrating several acupuncture sessions with existing treatments for eating disorders can significantly improve the situation:

  • anxiety symptoms are reduced
  • mental health is improved
  • a decrease in the feeling of perfectionism
  • improved quality of life

Sources: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24102480/ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26970732/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2861069/ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15656021/ https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0033318288723622

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