Natural remedy to help eliminate the signs of anorexia nervosa in anorexic girls and women.

natural treatment for anorexia nervosa

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  1. What is Anorexia?
  2. Diagnosing Anorexia
  3. What Causes Anorexia?
  4. Help for Anorexia
  5. More Information on Anorexia

What is Anorexia?

Anorexia Nervosa is classified as an eating disorder. People with Anorexia Nervosa have an obsession with food and are overly concerned with being thin. They are often so terrified of gaining weight that they go to extreme measures to lose weight or maintain a body weight that is below normal for their age and height.

Anorexic individuals restrict the amount of calories they consume, sometimes to the point of self-starvation - or purge by vomiting the small amount of food they do eat. They also use laxatives excessively or over-exercise so that their bodies burn more calories than they eat.

However, Anorexia is more than simply the need to be thin or to restrict food intake. It is often psychologically tied to the lack of control the person may be experiencing in other aspects of their lives. On a subconscious level Anorexic individuals may feel a sense of accomplishment that they have control over something in their life. The constant mental pre-occupation with food and their weight means that mental anguish, or other emotions, are avoided and not dealt with.

People with Anorexia nervosa are often overly sensitive to world issues, and often take the worries of the world onto their shoulders. The strict restriction of food may be used as a measure of how good they are at restraining themselves, taking willpower to an extreme degree. They can see it as a great feat, and inwardly applaud their determination.

Who Suffers from Anorexia and is it Serious?

Anorexia is much more prevalent in Western Societies than elsewhere in the world. This can be attributed to the commonly held Western notion that a slim figure is attractive – a notion that is perpetuated by the media and fashion.

Anorexia affects mainly young women, the most common age of onset being between 15 and 19, and approximately 90% of all cases are female. This can also be linked to a societal ideal that encourages women to be thin and men to have a strong muscular body-type.

Anorexia is a very serious disorder with a high mortality rate, and often results in severe medical consequences if left untreated. Most people with anorexia do not believe that they have a disorder and usually view their weight-loss as an accomplishment.

For this reason, they seldom seek help for themselves and are usually brought into treatment by a concerned parent or friend. There is hope, however, as there are successful treatments available and many anorexics are able to overcome their disorder and regain a healthy body-weight and sense of self.


What are the Effects of Anorexia on the Body?

Inadequate amounts of food result in malnutrition, which adversely affects all the body’s organs. Many anorexic girls seriously damage reproductive organs and functioning can be compromised. Anorexics can severely impair their vital body systems, such as the heart and kidneys, often permanently.

Anorexic girls commonly experience loss of menstruation (amenorrhea). Anorexia can have serious medical complications and severe symptoms as the effects of self-starvation and purging take a serious toll on the body’s health. Some of the many consequences of anorexia include:

  • Loss of menstruation (amenorrhea)
  • Dry skin and brittle nails
  • Brittle and thinning hair
  • Sensitivity or intolerance to cold temperatures
  • Cardiovascular problems such as chronically low blood pressure and heart rate, palpitations, and in extreme cases, heart failure
  • Electrolyte imbalances: low potassium, sodium and magnesium
  • Kidney stones or kidney failure
  • Changes in brain chemistry often resulting in depression
  • Lowered immune system function
  • Constipation and bloating
  • Headaches due to malnutrition
  • In severe cases nerve damage can present, such as numbness or mild paralysis in the feet or legs


When Should I Worry About Anorexia?

Signs of Anorexia nervosa include obsessive thoughts of food and being frantically concerned with body image or weight gain. People exhibiting signs of anorexia typically feel less anxious when they have control over their strict diet and disciplined weight loss. Other signs of anorexia include feeling hopelessly unsatisfied with your figure every time you look into the mirror, even though your family and friends comment on how thin you are.

Many anorexics fail to see that this is a problem, or their fear of weight-gain overshadows their fear of health complications and physical discomfort.

Anorexia is a serious condition and has been identified as the psychological disorder with the highest mortality rate, with 10% of all cases being fatal due to resulting medical complications. It also has a very high suicide rate as it often co-exists with depression.

Parents who are concerned that a child has anorexia should seek professional advice and assessment. While many teenagers develop picky eating habits, anorexia is a serious condition requiring medical treatment. Anorexic girls and young women often must be treated in medical facilities where they are monitored 24 hours a day.


Diagnosing Anorexia

When seeking professional help for you or your child, a health care professional will perform a series of tests before making a diagnosis. This will include a full psychological as well as physical examination, with possible blood tests and urine analysis.

Your doctor will be checking for confirmation of an eating disorder, as well as checking for damage or complications caused by the Anorexia such as kidney problems or electrolyte abnormalities. You will be referred to a psychologist who will take a full psychological history, discuss feelings and attitudes towards food and body-image and examine eating, purging and exercising habits and rituals.

What are the Symptoms of Anorexia?
  • Severely low body mass index in relation to age or height that is self-induced
  • Refusal to maintain normal body-weight
  • Unhealthy obsession with food and the amount of calories taken in compared to the amount used
  • An intense fear of gaining weight
  • Distorted body image – will often think she or he is fat even though noticeably thin
  • Often feels self-worth is dependant on body shape
  • Misses at least three consecutive menstruation periods
  • Increased downy hair on face and limbs (lanugo)


What Causes Anorexia?

  • Genetics – Research suggests that people with an Anorexic family member are approximately 4 times more likely to develop Anorexia than the general population. While this may suggest that there is a genetic component to the disorder, it may also be attributed to the shared experiences and learned behaviors within the family. It is also likely that the personality traits related to Anorexia such as perfectionism, emotional sensitivity and perseverance are inherited rather than the disorder itself.
  • Family and Learned Behavior – As mentioned, learned behavior may contribute to an increased risk of developing Anorexia. Parents who place great importance on physical appearances, criticize their child’s body shape, or who are dieting themselves, are more likely to have a child that will develop an eating disorder. In many cases, it is young girls from families that "bottle-up" emotions and avoid conflict at all cost that develop Anorexia.
  • Culture and The Media – Western society places great emphasis on body aesthetic. Women are under scrutiny far more than men in this regard. Society is influenced by the media – a force which is instrumental in shaping ideals. Fashion dictates what is seen as ‘attractive’ and most fashion houses favor a pre-pubescent figure for women. When girls start to fill out into their rounder womanly figures, they are often met with criticism and become self-conscious. To further complicate things, the media such as TV programs and magazines often give men and women unrealistic expectations of what the body should look like - often displaying below-weight models and actresses. This can lead to a false idea of what is ‘normal’. Furthermore, many young men come to expect this standard too and so women may find themselves constantly striving to live up to skewed expectations.
  • Restrictive eating – Studies have shown that dieting and restrictive eating lead to obsessions about food. This may trigger Anorexia or lead to over-eating. Peer groups can have a large influence, especially for teenage girls, as thinness is idealized and diets become fashionable. The media also encourages dieting, with the slimming industry bringing in huge amounts of revenue worldwide every year.

Help for Anorexia

In severe cases, a brief hospitalization period may be necessary where health practitioners will monitor vital signs, hydration levels and food consumption. In milder cases, the patient may be allowed to stay at home, with regular visits and health checks. A treatment plan is often drawn up that follows medical progress, and implements dietary changes and psychological therapy. Your medical team may consist of psychologists or counselors, medical doctors and a nutritionist or dietician.


Individual, family or group therapy will be very beneficial in dealing with Anorexia. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps the individual address the negative ideas surrounding food and weight-gain, while family therapy may help the entire family deal with underlying conflicts and provide coping techniques for the family as a whole. Support groups are often a source of support for the individual struggling with Anorexia as people share their success stories and their goals.


Drug Treatments

There are no drug treatments available to ‘cure’ Anorexia, although certain drugs may be prescribed to assist other accompanying disorders such as depression or anxiety. It is strongly advised that you research any prescription medication and their side-effects before agreeing to drug therapy.


Natural Herbal and Homeopathic Remedies

Certain natural remedies may be able to assist with some of the symptoms of anxiety and depression associated with Anorexia without the negative side effects of prescription medications, but with all the benefits.

Herbal formulas that are frequently used for anorexia are Melissa Officinalis (Lemon Balm), Lavender and Passiflora Incarnata – to soothe the mind and calm the nerves. Some herbal remedies (e.g. Hypericum perforatum or St John’s Wort) have been very successful in balancing mood, improving self esteem and stabilizing thoughts – thereby providing a sound platform for recovery. MindSoothe supports a healthy motivated attitude, facilitates a reasonable attitude and lessens the burden on pressured minds. MindSooth also supports healthy sleep patterns and routine appetite.


More Information on Anorexia Nervosa

Disorders that May be Related to Anorexia
  • Bulimia Nervosa is closely related to Anorexia and in many cases Anorexics become Bulimic.
  • Depression is high among individuals with Anorexia
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is closely related
  • Substance Abuse is also common among Anorexics


Tips for Coping with Anorexia
  • Talk to your dietician or medical doctor about necessary supplements. It may take time before you change all your old eating habits and until then you need to ensure that your body is receiving all the nutrients it needs.
  • Stick to your treatment and meal plans. It will be difficult at first, but focus on the fact that you are on the road to a healthy body and mind.
  • Try not to push supportive people away. Understand that caring friends and family who push you to stick with your treatment have your best interests at heart and they only want to see you get better.
  • Buy a journal. Keeping a record of your thoughts and feelings can be very helpful. You can track your progress and note when and why negative eating thoughts arise. Try to uncover the emotional reasons behind your eating disorder.
  • Resist the urge to constantly weigh yourself or check yourself in the mirror. These habits only serve to encourage an unhealthy lifestyle.
  • Adopt a loving relationship with yourself. Treat your body with love and respect by implementing a healthy life-style with a balanced diet, exercise, and enough rest. Set aside times where you pamper and treat yourself.
  • Try stop criticism as soon as it enters your mind. Judging yourself is an unhealthy habit at the heart of eating disorders. Accept yourself as well as those around you as beautiful inside and out - just as is. Do not buy into media’s view of the unrealistically skinny figure.
  • Remember that while you may feel a sense of control when self-starving or controlling your weight, you are in fact out of control – it is the anorexia that is in control until you make the decision to change.
  • Recognize the influences in your life that promote your disorder. Avoid too much TV and reading beauty magazines as they give a distorted view of beauty. You may need to avoid certain friends if they encourage your old habits, or address the people that put pressure on you to be thin


Tips for Concerned Parents
  • Many parents feel concerned that their child may have an eating disorder or may develop one. While it is not always easy to tell that your child is suffering from anorexia, you can look out for the common signs and symptoms such as weight loss, baggy clothing, obsessive behavior around food, or if your child always has an excuse for not eating or eats very little in front of you.
  • Should you suspect a problem, talk to your child in a supportive and non-critical manner. You may be met with denial, excuses or justification as many anorexics do not feel that they have a problem. Take your child for a medical check if you are seriously concerned.
  • Research anorexia so that you have all the facts and information on treatment centers in your area. There are plenty of recommended books that will be able to assist you in helping your child - especially if you are met with resistance.
  • Help your child develop a healthy relationship with food, by adopting one yourself. Minimize talk about dieting and weight. If you are critical of weight in yourself and others, your child may start to develop unrealistic expectations.
  • Praise your child for what she/he does and not what they look like. Encourage her inner strengths and beautiful personality traits.
  • Make meal times a time for connecting with your child and family.
  • Equip your child with positive coping skills and encourage communication with in your family.


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