The Homeopathic Treatment of Eating Disorders

By Allison Maslan, RSHom(NA)

Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia have become rampant in our time. As the years go by in my practice, I see more and more of these patients. Mostly women, however, men also suffer from this painful compulsion. Here are some startling statistics that you may not know about eating disorders.

1) The mortality rate for anorexia nervosa is higher than that of any other psychiatric disorder, and it is the leading cause of death in young women.
2) 10-20% of anorexics will eventually die from complications.
3) Female fashion models are 23% below what is considered normal weight.
4) Between 13% and 20% of college students report engaging in the binge/purge cycle of bulimia. Signs posted in one university’s women’s dormitory bathroom read: Please stop purging: stomach acid is destroying the plumbing.
5) 70-80% of 4th graders report they are dieting, some claiming they would rather be dead than fat.
6) An estimated 7 million women and 1 million men are suffering from eating disorders.

An eating disorder reflects a complete obsession with body image and food. This compulsion can be so severe that it becomes the focus of their entire existence and cripples them from functioning day to day in the real world.

The starvation can begin as early as birth. When caregivers do not properly comfort and nurture babies, these children grow up not knowing how to self soothe in a healthy way. Instead, they need to seek abnormal amounts of external comfort or relief. Caregivers, who do not accurately listen, acknowledge and validate, make it difficult for children, in turn, to learn how to validate themselves. This results in distorted, negative self-images or no self-image at all. Previous attempts to receive love and attention have brought disappointment, frustration, or even abuse. They turn to eating disorders as a substitute. They deal with indigestible facts and feelings by eating or not eating them, soothing their hurt by eating or not eating food, and gathering self-esteem in accordance with their ability to control food as they need. Their self-esteem is based on how well they control this food intake. If they fail at controlling their eating habits, (and they will because we all have the natural instinct to feed our bodies) they follow by abusing their bodies with starvation or purging. Then, this vicious cycle repeats, over and over again.

Societal influences and the media play a huge role in influencing the manifestation of eating disorders. Liz Taylor said, “The more you lose weight, the more they love you. It was not a healthy job.” In 1960, the model, Twiggy, was admired by many adult women who went on starvation diets to mimic her emaciated looks. There has been a dramatic change in our view of beauty over the recent decades. For example, in 1951, at the Miss America Pageant, Miss Sweden was 5’7” and weighed 151 pounds. In 1983, she was 5’9” and weighed 109 pounds. This epidemic has become so prevalent in our cultural landscape that we do not even recognize the illness as we look at it straight in the face.

What role can Homeopathy play in the treatment of eating disorders? Homeopathy treats the whole person, including, but not limited to, the symptoms of the eating disorder. Therefore, the remedy works to get to the core of why the compulsion is there in the first place. Whether the issue stems from an emotional, genetic or physiological trauma or imbalance, the homeopathic remedy can have a dramatically positive effect on the patient. By working to balance the entire system, Homeopathy is not just treating the symptoms of the eating disorder. It also works to create equilibrium in the patient. Therefore, when the system is in a state of balance rather than chaos, the compulsions of starving, bingeing and the delusions of distorted self-image begin to relieve themselves from the body. Over time, there can be a complete transformation from terrible suffering to a whole state of vital health. The difference between this and conventional treatments is healing the cause, not suppressing symptoms. Counseling is effective in these cases, of course, however, in combination with Homeopathy, healing is much more profound and lasting.

The homeopath takes a very involved intake to determine the complete picture of the patient. Then the homeopathic remedy is chosen that matches the state of the patient. (see like cures like in “What is Homeopathy?”) Eating disorders can be very deep seated. Sometimes the source of the eating disorder begins at birth or early childhood. Therefore, healing these deep cases may take some time. Although patients will see some response fairly early in treatment, monthly follow-ups are necessary for a period of time to monitor the state of the patient and ensure long term healing. . Often the homeopath works with a M.D. to monitor the patient’s weight and vital signs.

Many times patients do not want to admit to their eating disorder. This is a very private disease. That is one of the reasons they suffer so much. For healing to take place, there needs to be a moment of truth in facing the problem. Sometimes, just talking to the Homeopath can begin the healing process.

Allison Maslan, RSHom(NA) is currently writing a book on Homeopathy and Treatment of Eating Disorders.

Sources for this article:

KPBS Frontline Video entitled, “FAT”
Eating Disorder Sourcebook
Model: The Ugly Business of Being Beautiful, by Michael Gross Eating Disorder Web site