Healing Eating Disorders without Drugs and without Psychoanalysis
A reader from India suffers from anorexia nervosa. She said: “Dear Maha, I am 25 year old house-wife, I live between India and Saudi Arabia. After watching celebrities like Kareena Kapoor become size zero, I also embarked on a diet to lose weight. From the age of 16-20, I maintained a low-weight for my age and height. Things changed when I turned 21. I just could not stay away from food and became bulimic. It doesn’t help that my family owns a restaurant, I started stealing/taking food from the restaurant to facilitate my binges. I got married when I was 23. I still remember the panic attacks I had on the day of my wedding. I purged that day and could not get enough of the food. The problem now is that my family knows. It’s also very difficult to binge and purge now as I feel so many people are watching me. I looked into natural healing but I am really stuck. I looked into Megavitamin Therapy B3 and thought maybe I should try this at home, it may help me to recover from my mental anguish. Please advise”.
Dear Fatima, Eating Disorder treatments are very expensive. This is a sad reality. I feel so sad when girls ask me is there a natural way to recover from Eating Disorder? Is there a medicine that we can take to stop the purging? You are lucky that you live in India where they have Ayurveda, arguably one of the most ancient of all medical disciplines.
I will do a separate post on Ayurveda or this post will get very very long.
To me a mere thought that one can take a simple vitamin supplement to cure their Eating Disorder is very tempting indeed and I hope one day someone will come up with a magical cure for this disease, Inshallah.
Simple and Natural remedies are always appealing and Megavitamin therapy is one such remedy. To answer your question on Megaviatmin Therapy. Few years back I read Alternative Medicine A Guide to Natural Therapies and I remember finding this section of the book ‘Megavitamin Therapy’ very fascinating. Eating Disorders are a mental illness and I thought if Schizophrenia, Bipolar and other associative mental illnesses can be treated by Megavitamin Therapy, then maybe Eating Disorders too can be cured by this therapy.
There’s need for research to prove whether it can be useful in treating Eating Disorders or not . Most treatments for anorexia and bulimia focus on the psychological aspects of the problem. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies have rarely been studied in Eating Disorder patients, in spite of the severe health problems that is characteristic of Eating Disorders. And while patients with anorexia are profoundly malnourished, it is rare for them to receive nutrient recommendations beyond a multivitamin and calcium.
There is a strong argument from branch of medical and non-medical practice that we maybe deficient in certain vitamins- and by consuming and ingesting large dose of vitamins we can cure many diseases and mental health problems.
What is a Megavitamin Therapy?
Dr.Linus Pauling, was one of the first people to take a serious interest in the effects of large (previously unthought of) doses of vitamins to prevent and cure disease. In 1968 he coined the term ‘orthomolecular’ medicine from ortho-optimum or best. His early work was surrounded around the use of Vitamin C to prevent and cure the common cold. Eating Disorders are a disorder of brain- according to orthomolecular psychiatry Brain and nerve cells need very much more Vitamin B and Vitamin C, for example, rather than other parts of the body.
With time, Megavitamin therapists expanded their net wide and used mega vitamin therapy to cure alcoholism, hyper active children, neuritis, schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD and other psychiatric disorders.
Megavitamin therapy is very high in dosage. For example, Hoffer and Osmond, two pioneers in orthomolecular psychiatry field recommended a 3,000mg daily dose of vitamin B3 when the normal dose is 20mg. Megavitamin Therapy is not recommended except on the advice of qualified practitioners or doctor.
For the brain to function properly it needs the vitamins riboflavine, nicotinamide, pyridoxine, cyano-cobalamine, ascorbic acid and folic acid at least.
Eating Disorders and Megavitamin Therapy
Using Niacin (vitamin B3) to treat Depression and Anxiety
Niacin is vitamin B-3, one of the water soluble B-complex vitamins.This ‘mega-vitamin therapy’ eliminates the need for toxic anti-anxiety medications and helps you to relax naturally and get to sleep more rapidly at night
In fact, along with antioxidants like, vitamin C, E beta-carotene and selenium, niacin provides the ultimate protection against disease-causing free radicals. According to Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D, the combination of vitamin B-3 and the antioxidant nutrients is a great anti-stress program.
Caution: This is very high in dosage. If you want to try this therapy then you have to do this under a trained practitioner. Please don’t try this at home.
I was prescribed Thiamine (Vitamin B1) by a Dietitian few years back. After leaving the treatment center, I started working alongside my former boss to heal my Eating Disorder through natural healing and vitamin therapy. By vitamin therapy here, I do not mean Megavitamin Therapy, but just adding nutritional supplements to my diet to treat insomnia, depression and anxiety. Anger, depression, anxiety and insomnia are a serious problem and they further prolong the recovery process.The problem with anti-depressant medication is that after a while it stops working and has too many side-effects, that’s why I opted for natural therapy.
According to i Control My Health Lack of proper nutrition can be responsible for causing emotional changes, including depression, irritability, and anxiety. This means nutritional supplements are necessary for those suffering from eating disorders.
Ask your doctor for a blood test to check your levels of vitamins for deficiency and then incorporate certain vitamins in your diet
In order to see difference it makes to your mental well-being these nutritional supplements should be taken regularly over long periods of time. Taking the recommended daily amount (RDA) of vitamins and mineral supplements is perfectly safe.
Vitamins in Recovery
We still have much to learn about the causes and treatment of Eating Disorders, but nutrition/vitamin therapy holds promise and should provide encouragement to those who suffer, or have loved ones who suffer, from this complex disorder.
Vitamin B Complex- essential for cell metabolism and central nervous system maintenance helps to stabilize nerve cell membranes. Vitamin B is very effective in treating anxiety.
According to Mayo Clinic: Vitamin B-12 and other B vitamins play a role in producing brain chemicals that affect mood and other brain functions. Low levels of B-12 and other B vitamins such as vitamin B-6 and folate may be linked to depression.
Taking a daily supplement of Vitamin B Complex may help your body get the nutrients it needs and can prove a useful aid in your recovery from Eating Disorder.
Folic acid is crucial for proper brain function and plays an important role in mental and emotional health. A new study reveals that, folic acid supplementation improves folate levels and mental health in people with eating disorders.
Scientists from Health Research Institute IdiPAZ, Spain randomly assigned 10 mg per day of folic acid or an identical placebo to 24 people with eating disorder. All the participants were advised to maintain their medical, dietary, and psychological treatment. The scientists obtained data for anthropometric parameters (height and weight), food consumption, blood parameters (serum and red blood cell folate, plasma homocysteine), and depressive and cognitive behavior.
The scientists observed that, six months of folic acid supplementation showed improvements in folate status and a significant reduction in homocysteine levels. The elevated homocysteine concentration is suspected to contribute to the cognitive impairment. The doses of folic acid (10mg per day) used in this study did not cause any reduction in vitamin B12 levels. Furthermore, the folic acid supplementation improved mental health corresponding to cognitive impairment and depression usually associated with eating disorders.
The authors commented that folic acid supplementation shows overall improvement in quality of life in people with eating disorders and thus represents a safe and effective therapeutic tool.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Found in cold-water fish and certain vegetable oils, and available as a supplement, omega-3 fatty acids are sometimes used to help depression and other psychological problems. People suffering from Eating Disorders often avoid fat intake for long periods, with significant consequences on brain function. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found primarily in fish, cannot be manufactured by the body and must be acquired through diet. Omega-3 fatty acids play a central role in nerve cell membranes from early development through adulthood. Research supports a relationship between EFA deficiency, and many medical and psychiatric conditions. Depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and bipolar disorder are all thought to be related to deficiencies in EFAs. A recent study showed improvement in patients receiving one gram each of EFAs in addition to standard treatments.
Vitamin D3- this enhances mood- excellent in treating seasonal affective disorder.
Zinc- supplementation is amazing and it’s used in treating restrictive eating disorder, anorexia and bulimia. Back in the 80s other scientists had already determined that those with anorexia were prone to zinc deficiencies [S Safai-Kutti et al., 1986].
Dr. Soodabeh Safai-Kutti hypothesized that zinc deficiency might be a player in the pathogenesis (the origins of onset) of anorexia nervosa. In an open trial of 20 patients Safai-Kutti placed the subjects on 45-90 mg of zinc sulphate. An open trial means that these patients were not being compared to a placebo group or a control group.
During the follow-up period of 8 to 56 months, 17 of the patients had achieved a 15% (or more) increase in body weight [S Safai-Kutti, 1990]. Additionally, patients did not lose weight and none developed bulimic symptoms.
A number of nutrients need to be taken with others to be effective. An example is that vitamin C needs zinc to be effective. The B vitamins should be taken as a complex as there are more than twelve of them and they work best by complementing each other.
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Guidelines for Taking Nutritional Supplements
Please Consult A doctor before using any of these supplements. Eating Disorder treatment varies greatly from patient to patient, depending on the severity of the illness and the philosophy of the treatment team.