Anorexia Nervosa

While the physical and emotional consequences of anorexia can be devastating, the good news is that it can be treated with homoeopathy effectively.

Homoeopathic medicines are known to have deep effect on human economy and have been found effective in various psychological and developmental disorders.

In the conventional treatment there are no specific medicines / drugs for treating anorexia nervosa. Without knowing the cause an anti anxiety or anti depression drug is prescribed which ultimately results in severe side effects.

Along with these dangerous drugs the various therapies are required, for example cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy, family therapy which is very expensive for a patient.

Recent studies indicate that the use of Prozac and other antidepressants may cause children and teenagers to have suicidal thoughts.

Unlike many conventional medicines, homoeopathic remedies are non-toxic and not addictive and are economical. Homoeopathy can be safely used alongside other forms of medical treatment. The need of other medicines is gradually reduced as the treatment acts holistically addressing all the complaints of the patient.

Hundreds and thousands of people with moderate depression or anxiety have been unnecessarily prescribed powerful anti depressants. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and the National Institute for Health & Clinical Excellence (NICE), say GPs are prescribing too many pills for those who do not have a serious medical condition.

Pressures of work, family, society and so on affect health in various ways. Homoeopathy addresses mental, emotional and physical levels thus helping a patient get rid of anxiety and depression caused by these pressures of life.

When combined with the benefits of good nutrition, exercise and relaxation, homoeopathic medicines can provide optimum support for such patients.

How homoeopathy works:

  • Medicines help patient to regain the weight that is lost during the disease.
  • Remedies treat the psychological effects behind the deranged eating habits.
  • Homoeopathic treatment helps to stop or curb the thoughts which can make the patient stop eating and this helps the patient stay out of relapses.
  • So homoeopathy is a boon for diseases where people lose hope. For diseases like anorexia nervosa you need not swallow bitter pills anymore because there is a sweeter alternative.

There are 101 homoeopathy medicines which give great relief in anorexia nervosa. However, the correct choice and the resulting relief is a matter of experience and right judgment on the part of the doctor. The treatment is decided after thorough case taking of the patient. Thus remedies are tailor made unlike allopathy in which all patients receive the same drugs and therapy although trade name may be different.

What is Anorexia Nervosa

The term anorexia nervosa was established in 1873 by Sir William Gull, one of Queen Victoria’s personal physicians meaning a lack of desire to eat.

An eating disorder characterized by markedly reduced appetite or total aversion to food. Anorexia is characterized by a significant weight loss resulting from excessive dieting.

It is a serious psychological disorder. Most women and an increasing number of men are motivated by the strong desire to be thin and a fear of becoming obese.

Anorexics consider themselves to be fat, no matter what their actual weight is. This becomes an obsession and is similar to an addiction to a drug.

For people with anorexia, it really is true that one can never be too thin. Despite being dangerously underweight, anorexics see a fat person when they look in the mirror. What they don’t see is the tremendous physical and emotional damage that self starvation inflicts, so they continue to diet, fast, purge, and over-exercise.

Anorexics close to death will show you on their bodies where they feel they need to lose weight. In their attempts to become even thinner, the anorexic will avoid food and taking in calories at all costs, which can result in death.

An estimated 10 to 20% will eventually die from complications related to it.

Anorexia rarely begins in people who are older than 40 years of age. It most commonly appears in the teenage years, affecting up to 3 in 100 adolescents. Although it seldom emerges before puberty, associated mental conditions, such as depression and obsessive-compulsive behaviour, are usually more severe when it does.

The onset is often preceded by a traumatic or stressful event and it is usually accompanied by other emotional difficulties. Ninety percent of the sufferers are females; about 1% of American women are afflicted by anorexia.

Causes

Psychological issues : Psychological factors that can make a person more likely to develop anorexia nervosa include :

  • Low self-esteem
  • Feelings of ineffectiveness
  • Poor body image
  • Depression
  • Difficulty expressing feelings
  • Rigid thinking patterns
  • Need for control
  • Perfectionism
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Avoidance of conflict with others
  • Need to feel special or unique
  • Hereditary factors: Anorexia nervosa occurs eight times more often in people who have relatives with the disorder. It occurs more often in families with a history of depression or alcohol abuse
  • Family and social pressures: In addition to the cultural pressure to be thin; there are other family and social pressures that can contribute to anorexia. This includes participation in an activity that demands slenderness, such as ballet, gymnastics, or modeling. It also includes having parents who are overly controlling, put a lot of emphasis on looks, diet or criticize their children’s bodies and appearance.
  • Stressful life events: Such as the onset of puberty, a breakup, or going away to school can also trigger anorexia.
  • Childhood Abuse: Childhood abuse or traumas are often anorexia causes. While not all victims of childhood abuse become anorexic, a large number of anorexics were abused as children. There is, however, a correlation between the two.

Signs & Symptoms

People with anorexia often hide their condition, so the warning signs are not always easy to spot. Furthermore, anorexics will typically try to explain away their disordered eating behaviors when confronted. But as it progresses, the signs and symptoms become increasingly obvious and difficult to deny.

Eating and food behavior

  • Dieting despite being thin: Follows a severely restricted diet. Eats only certain low-calorie foods. Bans “bad” foods such as carbohydrates and fats.
  • Obsession with calories, fat grams, and nutrition: Reads food labels, measures and weighs portions, keeps a food diary, reads diet books.
  • Pretending to eat or lying about eating: Hides, plays with, or throws away food to avoid eating. Makes excuses to get out of meals (“I had a huge lunch” or “My stomach isn’t feeling good.”).
  • Preoccupation with food: Eats very little, but constantly thinks about food. May cook for others, collect recipes, read food magazines, or make meal plans.
  • Strange or secretive food ritual: Often refuses to eat around others or in public places. May eat in rigid, ritualistic ways (e.g. cutting food “just so”, chewing food and spitting it out, using a specific plate).

Appearance and body image

  • Dramatic weight loss: Rapid, drastic weight loss with no medical cause.
  • Feeling fat, despite being underweight: May complain about being overweight in general or just “too fat” in certain places such as the stomach, hips, or thighs.
  • Fixation on body image: Obsessed with weight, body shape, or clothing size. Frequent weigh-ins and concern over tiny fluctuations in weight.
  • Harshly critical of appearance: Spends a lot of time in front of the mirror checking for flaws. There’s always something to criticize. They’re never thin enough.
  • Denies being too thin: Refuses to believe that his or her low body weight is a problem, but may try to conceal it (drinking a lot of water before being weighed, wearing baggy or over sized clothes).

Purging symptoms

  • Using diet pills, laxatives, or diuretics: Abuses water pills, herbal appetite suppressants, prescription stimulants, ipecac syrup, and other drugs for weight loss.
  • Throwing up after eating: Frequently disappears after meals or goes to the bathroom. May run the water to disguise sounds of vomiting or reappear smelling like mouthwash or mints.
  • Compulsive exercising : Follows a punishing exercise regimen aimed at burning calories. Will exercise through injuries, illness, and bad weather. Works out extra hard after eating something “bad.”

The following signs may be seen due to starvation / weight control methods

  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Menstrual periods stop or puberty is delayed
  • Hand injuries from inducing vomiting
  • Decayed teeth from stomach acid
  • Yellowing of skin
  • Kidney stones
  • Depression

Risk Factors

  • Age and gender : anorexia is most common in teens and young adult women
  • Dieting
  • Weight gain
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Puberty
  • Living in an industrialized country

Having depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or other anxiety disorders : OCD is present in up to two-thirds of people with anorexia. OCD associated with an eating disorder is often accompanied by a compulsive ritual around food (such as cutting it into tiny pieces).

Participation in sports and professions that prize a lean body (such as dance, gymnastics, running, figure skating, horse racing, modeling, wrestling, acting)

Difficulty dealing with stress (pessimism, tendency to worry, refusal to confront difficult or negative issues)

History of sexual abuse or other traumatic event

Experiencing a big life change, such as moving or going to a new school

How to Diagnose

  • Anorexia nervosa can be a difficult disorder to diagnose, since individuals often attempt to hide the disorder. There are four basic criteria for the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa that are characteristic:
  • The refusal to maintain body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for age and height. Maintaining a body weight less than 85% of the expected weight.
  • An intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though the person is underweight
  • Self-perception that is grossly distorted, excessive emphasis on body weight in self-assessment, and weight loss that is either minimized or not acknowledged completely.
  • In women who have already begun their menstrual cycle, at least three consecutive periods are missed (amenorrhea), or menstrual periods occur only after a hormone is administered.

Complications

  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Amenorrhea (loss of menstruation)
  • Skin problems
  • Dizziness and headaches
  • Dehydration
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Hair loss
  • Stomach pains
  • Decreased metabolic rate
  • Edema (water retention)
  • Lanugo (fine downy hair)
  • Loss of bone mass
  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Osteoporosis
  • Insomnia
  • Anemias
  • Infertility
  • Depression
  • Cathartic colon (caused from laxative abuse)
  • Low potassium (most common cause of nocturnal cardiac arrest)
  • Cardiac arrest and death

Home Remedies

  • Two to three oranges taken daily can create appetite.
  • Apple taken daily can cure anorexia.
  • Vegetable soup with salt and pepper can increase appetite.
  • Raw tomato increases appetite.
  • Sour grapes can be useful in the treatment of anorexia.
  • Lime and ginger juice mixed with pinch of salt can be used.