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Eating Disorders ( Bulimia )

Bulimia is one form of eating disorder-there is many types of eating disorders and by and large, these can develop at any age and can affect both sexes. As demography however, the overwhelming majority of cases occurs among young women-most of who come from stable and well-educated families with high incomes. All eating disorders can almost be considered as artificial disorders of rich societies, indicated by the near complete absence of these illnesses in the third world countries. The two well known disorders are anorexia nervosa, this disorder is very common among adolescents aged between twelve and twenty in developed countries, the other disorder is bulimia, frequently seen in women aged twenty and thereabouts. Food addictions are also classified under eating disorders and many persons have an addiction to food. Thus overweight individuals result from compulsively overeating to fill emotional needs. Obsessions with eating and dieting can also be classified as a form of eating disorder and many others people of regular weight can be affected in this way. People can become trapped in a continuous struggle over whether or not to eat because of the existence of a self-deceptive view of the body-this is a psychological manifestation of an eating disorder. A primary relationship with food can become so overwhelming that it becomes an obsession; psychological self-inflicted suffering results as all desires; physical needs and emotional conflicts are suppressed and maintained in relation to food.

In patients affected with anorexia nervosa, the presence of this obsession with food can assume extremely disturbing dimensions. Psychological effects triggered during this disorder include the presence of a tremendous fear of putting on weight, this fixation is coupled with a skewed view of the body as irreversibly and permanently fat, and this is without any regard to the actual weight of the person-which may be dangerously low. Such psychological triggers cause the person to undergo long bouts of self-starvation in the hopes of losing the imagined weight. These psychological responses to food are a means of overcoming the problems of adolescence in young anorexics as a way of stopping themselves from growing up or to help them deal with painful emotional issues. The main obsession is linked only to food and everything centers on it. Psychological responses center on rituals concerning food and eating, elaborate preparations for meals may be made with a full table set out, but with very little being consumed. The most disturbing behavior displayed by patients being the practice of self-induced vomiting and the use of laxatives, immediately following a meal. This behavior by the person may be a response to an overwhelming craving for food that actually exists within, or it could perhaps be carried out as an attempt at deception to fool family and friends that they have changed for the better. The most obvious and also the most evident symptom is loss of weight; this weight loss can be increased immensely if the person also participates in athletic activities on a regular basis. The result is that the person is always dehydrated and malnourishment is another outcome. The physical symptoms can also include extreme weakness, persistent spells of dizziness, problems like constipation, and a stop in menstrual flow or an irregularity in the flow. Symptoms such as splitting headaches, extreme nervousness and difficulty in concentration are also manifest. Anorexics are actually normal as far as appetite is concerned, thus any loss of appetites cannot be considered to be a symptom, anorexics become hungry and will crave food, but a the psychological factor pushes them into refusing food and in behaviors such as vomiting if food is consumed. Thus anorexia nervosa can be considered a form of mental disturbance and in this regard it has the highest mortality rate of any mental health related disorder-patients simply starve them to death. As a demographic group, at least thirty six percent of all patients suffering from anorexia will die within twenty years from the date of diagnosis.

A cyclic binging and purging behavior characterizes bulimia as a distinct eating disorder. The bulimic patient usually starts off succumbing to overpowering cravings for food, and then he or she binges on extremely large amounts of high-fat foods and very rich items. Self induced vomiting completes the purging behavior as the patient reacts to his or her binge with typical psychological symptoms such as extreme feelings of horror and guilt at themselves, coupled with hopelessness at their apparent inability to control the desire for food.

Esophageal as well as dental decay becomes apparent in anorexics and bulimics; this is because of the frequent vomiting. The tooth decay is caused by excessive exposure of the oral orifice to stomach hydrochloric acid that comes up with the vomit; this acid can erode the esophageal walls over time and this is another factor responsible for the deaths of patients. The weight of a person may not necessarily be an indication of the seriousness of the condition as patients can weight anything from extremely light, to slightly underweight to overweight. Bulimics are able to lead normal lives at least on the outside, because they are able to maintain appearances. They control their weight and are otherwise regular in the social circuit and have normal sexual lives. Anorexics are by and large unable to lead normal lives as the dieting and the refusal to eat handicaps them physically and socially, besides psychologically alienating them from society.

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A mistaken belief that a person's body does not meet idealistic and false notions of beauty and thinness leads to eating disorders as the person in such cases focuses only on dieting and the amount of food consumed. In modern society, young women and adolescents are placed under extreme pressure as the social ideals of beauty seem to equate thinness with it-thus dieting to remain incredibly thin becomes an overriding ambition in such people.

Psychological factors pre-dominate behaviors that cause a person to repeatedly diet and restrict their food intake. Feelings of inadequacy and an absence of self worth trigger such behaviors and these psychological tendencies begin at some particularly difficult stage in the life of a teenager, the presence of overwhelming and many sided pressures causes breeds insecurity in the person and push him or her to extreme dieting behavior. Dieting to get thinner is usually the first step that an adolescent might take to lose weight, however this behavior can suddenly seem to be a way to dominate everything in his or her life-thus emotional issues are sought to be dealt with through food and the person begins to use diets and food in general as a coping mechanism for other things. Such persons begin to eat as little as possible as they begin to welcome the feeling of hunger as a symbol of their control of their bodies and their selves. There is a great deal of social acceptance to dieting even though prolonged physical starvation can predispose the mind to obsess continually about food and concentrate only on dietary schedules. Obsession finally sets in because of this continuous attention to food and diets, modern society with its plethora of advertising that promote diets, gives out a strong psychological pat on the back and encourages the person to continue in the diet even when it's killing him or her.

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Extremely low levels of energy, the lack of drive and constant mood swings arise in a person because of poor nutrient intake and a lack of food. The body always tries to maintain a natural weight and such deficiency in food intake will cause the body to lower its metabolism, as a physiological response. Over prolonged periods of time losing even a little more weight becomes extremely hard and almost not possible, at this stage the person causes may believe he or she has failed because of a lack in will power and the person may blame himself or herself for it. In many ways physical starvation resembles the use of a medication and brings out similar effects. The body of a starving person will produce endorphins, which are chemicals that stimulate a natural high in response to human suffering and stress. This event in the body has an unfortunate effect as it encourages dieting behavior to reach that high.

The various feelings of inadequacy, the feelings of loneliness and failure is dealt with by binging and filling oneself with food-thus food here fills an emotional need and not a physical necessary, overeating is very easy in this way. In girls the presence of a poor self-image and low self esteem is directly linked to feeling unloved by others, and in such cases a problematic relationship between a mother and a daughter may be the root cause of the problem. A connection between the presence of eating disorders and a severe zinc deficiency has been reported in one new research, this is possible because the deficiency of this mineral is known to cause significant behavioral changes in the person. Low levels of the brain hormone serotonin in the brain can supposedly bring about obsessive and compulsive eating disorder behaviors in people-this is suggested by an increasing number of studies that have analyzed the relationship.

Supplements and herbs

All of the herbal remedies and supplements suggested here can bring about an improvement in the malfunctioning gastrointestinal tract; furthermore the supplements can strengthen the entire body, enabling the patient to cope much more with stress and other psychological manifestations of the disorder. Anorexia nervosa may be partially brought about by a deficiency of zinc in the body; zinc supports internal enzyme activity, it has important roles in immunity, and in the functioning of the brain as well as in protein synthesis. Significant improvements in mood, appetite and in overall sense of taste can be achieved if zinc is supplemented on a regular basis to the patient. Supplements of many types of substances and metabolic compounds can decrease the depression, commonly observed among anorexics and bulimics-these supplements include the use of amino acids, such as L-tyrosine and L-phenylalanine, along with nutrients like the vitamin B6 among others.

To combat the deficiencies in nutrient levels within the body as well as to boost the energy levels in the body, all patients must be supplemented a good multivitamin on a regular basis, no matter the type of eating disorder. In order to maintain the health of the patient and to increase the rate of absorption of ingested foods, regular supplementation with vitamins of all types is necessary. Nutrients combinations of the vitamin C along with the bioflavonoids can strengthen the body's ability to ward off infections and enable the strengthening and recovery of the human body. In people with eating disorders and depression, the mineral magnesium drops down to very low levels. The absorption of minerals like zinc and magnesium into the body's cellular structure is enabled by the presence of the vitamin B6. In addition to regular supplements of the vitamin B complex, all smokers must also use 2,250 mg of vitamin C supplements on a regular basis.

The indiscriminate use of laxatives as well as faulty eating habits can destroy the normal intestinal flora and this can be rectified through supplemental bacterium cultures such as the Lactobacillus acidophilus and the Bifidobacterium cultures. These cultures reestablish the normal bacterial complement in the digestive tract, restoring the normal functioning of the body. The use of these supplements will also lead to a significant improvement in the digestive processes within the body; these will also help the body resist-infection from pathogenic organisms like candida and other infective germs, which may take advantage of a weakened immune system and establish themselves within the body.

A lack of energy in the body and persistent fatigue can be rectified through regular supplements of the B complex vitamins. In this regard supplements of the vitamin B6 are an essential step. In anorexics problems with absorbing ingested food can be rectified through supplemented vitamins B6 in an active form-in the form of the compound Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate, this will correct the defective absorption mechanism. To rebuild the low energy levels within the body, it is recommended that patients have a lot of green food supplements such as kelp-rich in minerals, along with other essential nutrients such as vitamins and antioxidants. The regular use of these supplements will prevent behavioral problems like overeating. The use of supplemental forms of the gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is an essential fatty acid found abundantly in the oil of the evening primrose, is strongly suggested as its helps control body weight and promotes health. Dieting leads to a loss of essential fatty acids from the body, these compounds are necessary in many functions within the body - supplements of these essential fatty acids must also be carried out on a regular basis.

The human body contains a particular form of glucose called inositol; this sugar is an isomer of glucose-the sugar used in all energy generating processes within the body. In patients who suffer from depression, it has been observed that the levels of inositol are extremely low or reduced below the optimal complement.

The patient suffering from poor digestive abilities can also profit from supplements that include betaine and pepsin, along with compounds like glutamic acid and apple cider vinegar, in this regard supplements of Swedish bitters, the enzyme pancreatin, many vegetable enzymes and different digestive promoters are also recommended.

The digestion in patients suffering eating disorders can also be further disturbed by food allergies, infection from pathogens like candida and other parasites, poisoning from toxic heavy metals among others. These can completely halt the absorption of essential amino acids such as tryptophan and ultimately its utilization within the body itself. Supplements of the essential amino acid tryptophan is therefore necessary to address this imbalance-this supplement is further enhanced through co-supplementing with compounds like the vitamin B3 (niacinamide) and the vitamins B6 and C on a continuous basis. The dosage level of tryptophan must not be allowed to exceed 4 gr a day, if it is used along with niacinamide.

The herbal remedies given here will help the patient by assisting the patient to change his or her diet in a comprehensive manner. These will also endow the patient with all the essential nutrients necessary to health and they will stimulate the appetite at the same time. These remedies will also help the patient resist depression and other psychological problems.

Patients suffering from psychological symptoms of an eating disorder such as a low self esteem and mild to moderate depression can gain benefit from supplementation with the St. John's wort herb-this herb will alleviate the worst psychological symptoms of the disorder. The herbal supplement can also eliminate insomnia; reduce physical fatigue and anxiety present in the patient. Dosage of the herbal supplement can be about 300 mg of .3% standardized hypericin extract, taken thrice every day as long as symptoms persist. The use of this herb must be avoided during pregnancy. Important nutrients are also contained in the juice of the stinging nettle. Dosage of the herb can be a tbsp. of the juice once every day during the treatment period. The body of an anorexic is usually deficient in nutrients and he or she almost suffers from extreme exhaustion, the use of the herb ginseng will provide an energy boost to the patient. It is important to boost the appetite of sufferers and this can be done by drinking a tbsp. of the juice of one of the herbs given here, the herbs include the wormwood, the yarrow, the angelica, and the Chinese herb dong quai, the centaury, either the blessed thistle or the root juice of the gentian, the chamomile, the peppermint and the fennel, these can be taken thrice daily over a period of three weeks, the following can also be utilized, including the dandelion, the saw palmetto, the catnip, the common ginger, the Indian herb gotu kola, the ginseng, the lady's slipper, the juice of licorice, the juice of pressed passion flower, the skullcap, the red clover, the wild yam and the yellow dock. These herbs can be pressed or ground fresh and the juices can then be strained and used.

Aromatherapy

Commonly used essential oils for eating disorders:

Additional things you may do

To increase the circulation of blood in the body, water step inside a bathtub containing cold water for five minutes every morning. It is known that patients suffering from bulimia tend to prefer eating in private, and once they alone will not stop till such times as they are interrupted-either by another person or by vomiting everything out. Thus all bulimics must be observed so that they do not behave in this way-thus a careful change in eating habits must be attempted and the bulimic must be under strict supervision at all times to stop the behavior. Eating disorders are accompanied by different types of digestive problems and a naturopath or holistic doctor can be consulted to order tests such as a Comprehensive Digestive and Stool Analysis (CDSA), which will enable him or her to diagnose the disorder. After this is done, the appropriate therapy can be used so that the digestive system is given optimal treatment.

Usual dosage

  • Oil of evening primrose, 2 x 500 mg capsules thrice a day.
  • Vitamin B3, 500 mg.
  • Vitamin C, with bioflavonoids, 1,000 mg thrice a day.
  • Multivitamin (take with minerals as recommended).
  • L-phenylalanine, with vitamin B6, 500 mg.
  • L-tryptophan, 1,000 mg thrice a day.
  • L-tyrosine, 100 mg for each kilogram of body weight one time in the morning and one time at noon.
  • Zinc, 60 mg with 3 mg of copper for several months.
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus combination, one tsp or three capsules.
  • Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate, 100 mg.
  • Green food supplements, one tbsp.
  • Inositol, 12 g.

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