Eating Disorders, Research
By Dawn Kaplansky
December 20, 2010
With the holiday season upon us I felt this was a perfect time to write about eating disorders. Many web sources say that the holiday season is one of the most stressful times for persons with any of these disorders. It is important to understand that eating disorders do not just affect the individual person, but in most cases the entire family. According to statistics, eating disorders have reached epidemic levels The National Eating Disorder website (www.nationaleatingdisorders.org) states “eating disorders – such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder – include extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues. Eating disorders are serious emotional and physical problems that can have life – threatening consequences for both females and males.”
The National Eating Disorders website, expresses the use of different forms of therapies for eating disorders. They define the term Alternative Therapy as being a treatment that does not use drugs. Some of the therapies that they list as alternative are Yoga, guided imagery, expressive therapy and massage therapy. We at Amber Myst Alternatives offer a variety of these alternative therapies. We do so because we believe in the use of alternative therapies as a means of creating wholeness in our lives. Alternative therapies are beneficial in many ways and most of them can be done hand in hand with other therapies.
I see eating disorders as a viscous cycle when it comes to what you see in a person with these disorders. What I mean by this, is that often times you see depression and mood swings. Some of the biggest life threatening issues with eating disorders is the lack of nutrition and vitamins that are needed to keep our bodies healthy. Therefore, a good multi vitamin is imperative. Just the lack of vitamin D3 can lead to many different major health issues and has also been known to be a factor with depression. Recently on the Dr. Oz show he talked about the Importance of Vitamin D3 for bone health and as a cancer fighter. The essential oils desk reference under anorexia states: “Many anorexics suffer life-threatening nutrient and mineral deficiencies. The lack of Magnesium and potassium can actually trigger heart rhythm abnormalities and cardiac arrest. Replacement of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and other minerals is absolutely essential for this condition.” They also list the use of essential oils like Mandarin, orange, lavender, lemon, and ginger. The benefits of essential oils with eating disorders are another alternative measure that have been used as aroma therapy and topical application to up lift our moods or help alleviate stress.
We believe that the body does a great amount of healing when it is at rest. The national eating disorder website goes on to talk about biofeedback as a way to create relaxation. I remember learning bio feedback relaxation in the Lamaze classes that I took to prepare myself for childbirth. These relaxation techniques were meant to help one relax, meditate and breathe through each contraction allowing your body to relax so that it can better do what it was intended to do, instead of fighting against the natural processes. In The NEDA parent tool kit they describe Bio-feedback as relaxation techniques that are taught to a person to help them through stressful situations.
There are other alternative therapies being used to help battle eating disorders, one of which is flower essences. Flower essences are not essential oils but could better fit in a category like homeopathics. The Flower Essence Repertory by Patricia Kaminski and Richard Katz states: “Flower essences are vibrational in nature.” They go further to say, “The action of flower essences can be compared to the effects we experience from hearing a particularly moving piece of music or seeing an inspirational work of art. The light or sound waves which reach our senses may evoke profound feelings in our soul, which indirectly affect our breathing, pulse rate, and other physical states.” There has been quite a bit written about sound and light therapy and the use of these things to alter our moods. It is much like the use of animal therapy, where they have shown the lowering of blood pressure and the change of PH balance in the body by simply interacting with a pet. From my years of experience with flower essences as an alternative, I could see how Five Flower Formula could be very helpful for those with eating disorders as it helps to bring calmness and stability in times of stress. It has also been used in cases of addiction, fear, hysteria and relaxation just to mention a few. There are 40 + single flower essences that have been used for eating disorders, and though they are beyond the scope of this article it is important to understand that each one addresses specific patterns of which may be different for each individual.
The ANAD (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders) States some statistics that many of you might find interesting. They say that “eating disorders effect seven to ten million women and one million men”. ANAD ran a ten year study that affirmed that “86% reported the illness by the age of 20, and 43% between the ages of 16-20.” The National Association of Social Workers describes different eating disorders on a page entitled Adolescent Girls and Body Image where they state: “How adolescents formulate and define their body image ideals and subsequent self-comparisons is strongly influenced by personal, familial, and cultural factors.” Though many of the sources that I am seeing indicate that eating disorders usually show up in the younger years I have personally met a few people that were in their 30’s and 40’s.
Mao Clinic describes Anorexia nervosa as being obsessed with food and being thin, some times to the point of self-starvation. They also list signs and symptoms of this disorder. Mayo clinic also describes Bulimia Nervosa as episodes of bingeing and purging.
The Cleveland Clinic describes eating disorders as it is seen in the DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition)
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, it is not intended to diagnose or treat any eating disorders. If you have an eating disorder please seek the advice of a mental and medical health care professional.
Because of the nature of some eating disorders and the fact that they can have life-threatening consequences we have invited Jen Emmerich Psychotherapist to Amber Myst Alternatives on January 29 at 2:00pm. Jen Specializes in eating disorders and if you have questions or concerns about yourself or a loved one that may have one of these disorder I urge you to reserve your seat today.
Many Blessings to you and Yours this holiday season