Nearly 1 million men and women in the United States suffer from eating disorders, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, including the two most common ones — anorexia and bulimia. Both disorders involve a perception distortion of body shape and weight. Anorexia is characterized by extreme weight loss; bulimia is characterized by binge-eating and compensatory factors such as purging and fasting. Conventional therapies for eating disorders include medical and psychological evaluation, medication and nutritional counseling. But if you're looking for treatment for eating disorders, Chinese medicine and other alternative therapies can help.
Acupuncture can aid in treatment of eating disorders
One of the most effective healing traditions in the treatment of eating disorders is traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), which includes acupuncture, moxibustion, Chinese herbal medicine, massage and dietary therapy. In addition to allopathic therapies, TCM — especially acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine — can aid in regaining emotional and physical health.
The medical complications of eating disorders can affect multiple body systems, including the digestive, endocrine and cardiac systems. The digestive system often proves to be one of the most affected systems of the body in those suffering from eating disorders. Depending on the specific eating disorder, symptoms may include acid reflux, abdominal bloating, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), nausea, constipation, diarrhea and abdominal discomfort.
How acupuncture helps in related conditions
Acupuncture can help address general health complaints that arise with eating disorders, such as dry skin, fatigue, concentration difficulties, anemia, muscle cramps, hair loss, insomnia, anxiety and low energy. As either a primary or adjunct therapy as part of treatment for eating disorders, acupuncture speeds recovery of the affected body systems and aids in stress reduction through the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers.
Auricular (ear) acupuncture points are also effective in harmonizing digestion, absorption and metabolism. Acupuncture body points selected can tonify — or increase the energy of — Chi and circulate oxygen and blood with an emphasis on the stomach. By restoring Chi energetic balance, acupuncture can manage uncontrollable appetite and reduce cravings.
Combination of holistic modalities
Acupuncture treatment can correct the energy imbalances that often are underlying factors in eating disorders. Acupuncture nourishes related organs and can contribute to the healthy functioning of the digestive system. TCM for eating disorders uses a combination of holistic modalities to regain health, including acupuncture, moxibustion, Chinese herbal medicine, massage and dietary therapy. The fact that TCM focuses on holistic health offers some advantages in treating these complex and dangerous ailments, which may involve coordinating with multiple providers to get the patient on a successful path of recovery.
To learn more about how practitioners of holistic medicine can help people manage and overcome a broad spectrum of health problems, download our eBook Everything You Need To Know About A Career in Acupunture today.