What is Anorexia nervosa?
It is an eating disorder which compels sufferers to restrict their intake of nutrition extremely. It is rated a psychological disorder. Sufferers frequently have a distorted body image and aim to keep their body weight as low as possible. They seek to reduce their caloric intake by minimizing their food consumption, they may exercise compulsively and excessively, or do both in order to reduce their weight. They may even resort to the induction of vomiting and the use of laxatives to purge their body of food they ingested.
Sufferers fear to gain weight. Their ‘self-perceived’ weight lets them belief that they are overweight albeit in fact being under-weight. This disorder is not about calories or food, it is usually an expression of an underlying complex emotional incongruity whereby the individual equates being slim with feelings of self-worth. For some individuals this form of ‘self-starvation’ may also serves the purpose of controlling an aspect of life that to the sufferer appears out of control.
While the disorder commonly affects, in particular, children during their adolescence, it may also affect older men and women.
Anorexia is not easily noticed, as individuals are not necessarily emaciated. They do however loose a lot of weight in a rather short period of time. Hence, a corpulent individual losing weight rapidly, but not the point of having a dangerously low body weight in comparison to his or her height, may too be a sufferer of Anorexia nervosa, as is the underweight and emaciated person.
What are the causes of Anorexia nervosa?
There are various potential factors that possibly predispose an individual to fall prone to this eating disorder. Some persons appear to be genetically preprogrammed, others develop the distinct personality traits that lead to this disorder, but increasingly environmental factors make certain persons become victims of Anorexia nervosa.
It is presently the culture in the media that propagandises an abnormally distorted body image. The idealised and idolized stereotype being continually promoted in the fashion and media industry praises the body image of the thin, thinner, and thinnest as highly desirable. The credo of ‘thin equals sexy’ instigates peer-pressure that subjects individuals to ever higher weight-loss extremes, sadly exposing them to ever greater harmful effects to their health. Another cause of Anorexia nervosa is the exposure to traumatic events or abuse, whereby victims aim to find control of shame, guilt and other emotional feelings by committing to the ‘self-starvation’ of Anorexia nervosa.
What are signs and symptoms of Anorexia nervosa?
Aside of noticeably losing weight, someone who suffers of Anorexia nervosa changes their habits and behaviours. Sufferers commonly focus extremely on aspects surrounding, food, eating, diet and calories to the point of obsession, and develop rituals surrounding their food intake. Not only does portion size become smaller, they also may create excuses to not participate at meals at all, may cut their food into tiny little pieces, may begin eating extremely slowly, may express their preference to eating alone, or may even hide food that is given to them such that no one notices that they did not eat it. They may lie about having eaten, when they haven’t. Their food preferences may change drastically and suddenly, and they may develop rigid ideas, anxiety and perfectionism surrounding food and eating.
A sufferers health may, as a consequence, to this eating disorder deteriorate. Thinner hair as well as an increased loss of hair, feeling cold even in warm weather, lacking energy, constantly being tired, and insomnia are common. Not only on account of feeling cold, the sufferers may resort to wearing multiple layers of clothing in order to hide their reducing weights. Dizzy spells, faintness and depression are frequently associated complaints, and in men, a reduced libido is not an unusual symptom of Anorexia nervosa, while in girls and women, amenorrhoea, the absence of menstruation, is a common sign. Withdrawing from their social circles, friends and family, and retreating into their own realm, becoming increasingly isolated and secretive are behaviours that may begin to show.
The body, maltreated by the ‘self-starvation’ of the sufferer may show signs of serious health disorders that require medical treatment. As the body is denied nutrients that are essential for it to function properly, more serious health issues can develop. The individual may damage the main body systems. The hormonal equilibrium may fall out of balance, the neural system may become disordered, the gastrointestinal system may fail to function correctly and even the cardiovascular system may become cease to work normally. If the Anorexia is long standing, the physical damages can be very serious and possibly are not reversible.
Homeopathy for Anorexia nervosa?
The homeopathic Materia Medica have numerous remedies at the disposal for the experienced homeopath, to offer help to the sufferer of this eating disorder. The prime aim though is the removal of the underlying issues, whether emotional, environmental or other.
Some remedies matching the symptom complex of Anorexia nervosa are:
Alfalfa – Appetite is reduced, but also increased to peak in bulimia. Eats often, cannot wait for regular meal; just nibbles on food, craves sweets.
Antimonium crudum – Disgust for food, thinking of food or smelling it. Eats ravenously, too much. Feels full with nausea that makes him want to vomit, but the nausea is not relieved by vomiting. Grumpy individual.
Arsenicum Album – Nausea from seeing or smelling food. Burning in stomach even from little food. Violent vomiting that does not relieve the nausea. Great thirst in little sips. Anxious and restless individuals.
Bryonia – Great hunger with loss of taste. Vomiting directly after eating of mostly fluid and bile. Warm drinks induce the vomiting. There is faintness and nausea when getting up.
Ignatia – Great aversion to a normal diet, but a craving for things that are indigestible or acidic. Nausea and vomiting of fluids. There is a feeling of emptiness about the stomach. Depressed individuals, on account of grief or worry. There is much sighing, heavy breathing and yawning.
Ipecacuanha – Violent nausea, not relived by vomiting. Exhaustion, with the sensation of weakness. Thick coating on the tongue. Pallor. Irritability. Grumpy and dissatisfied individuals.
Lycopodium – There is excessive hunger with weakness of digestion, and bulimia with bloating. Eating little makes full. Sinking sensation in stomach. Leanness, particularly of upper body. Irritability, cannot stand contradiction.
Mica – Disgust of life, eating is useless, ‘only keeps the self alive, but there are no interests or friends in life, so why extend life’. Desperate melancholy. Lack of life energy. Sensitive to cold. Irritability.
Pulsatilla – There is nausea and an intolerance to greasy foods. Digestion is slow. The individuals mood is characterized by resignation, but also, moodiness, sadness, and taciturnity.
Sepia – Nausea at the sight and smell of food. There is a disposition to vomit after eating and a burning sensation at the pit of the stomach. Disgust of fat. Skinniness with weakness. Sadness paired with indifference towards everything. Despondence and irritability. Seeks solitude.
Boericke, W. (2004) Pocket manual of homeopathic Materia Medica and repertory New Delhi: B.Jain publishers Ltd.
EATING DISORDER HOPE (2019) Anorexia Nervosa: Causes, Symptoms, Signs & Treatment Help, Available at: https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/information/anorexia(Accessed: May 2019).
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Voisin, H. (2018) Materia Medica für den homöopatischen Praktiker, 1 edn., Kandern: Naranaya Verlag.