Ayurvedic treatment for Eating disorders

Eating disorders

Know More on Psychiatry/Mental diseases

  • Definition
  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis
  • Management
  • FAQS
  • References

Definition

Eating disorders Ayurvedic treatment

WHAT IS EATING DISORDERS?

It is commonly thought that eating disorders are a lifestyle choice, but this is not true. Eating disorders form a grave and life threatening illness that disrupts a person’s eating habits. Having an obsession for food, body weight, and body shape also signals an eating disorder. Common eating disorders that are clinically known are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorders.1

Eating disorders have been described under the Annadvesha, Bhaktadvesha, Aruchi.  Ayurveda, the scholars in the past were well aware of deep impacts of food items on our body and mind, and hence, Ayurvedic texts always recommend one should be cautious about the food items if you want to remain healthy and happy.

Eating disorders can be correlated under the manasik rogas where the capability of the mind to decide what is right is occluded by obsessive beliefs.2

Ayurveda has described the manas (mind) and its vishayas i.e. the areas of handling in a conspicuous manner. Obsessive compulsive disorders are considered to be due to manasika bhaavas like dhee (memory), dhriti (thoughts) etc.2

The disease is found more often in individuals with the heena or alpa bala(low resilience) of satva (mind). Any bad activity, physical, mental or verbal termed as prajna-paradhacan be a cause for the condition.2

Causes

Eating disorders

EATING DISORDERS CAUSES

The cause of an eating disorder is usually a complex interaction of hereditary, physical, behavioral, psychological, and social factors.1

Symptoms

Eating disorders

EATING DISORDERS SYMPTOMS

The symptoms of an eating disorder vary as per the underlying type of disorder. E.g Anorexia nervosa or bulimia etc

In Anorexia nervosa, the following symptoms are seen1:

  • Extremely restricted eating
  • Extreme thinness (emaciation)
  • Wanting to be as thin as possible
  • Always fearing gaining any weight
  • Abnormal body image

Those with bulimia nervosa show the following symptoms –

  • Always have an inflammation and soreness in throat
  • Swelling of salivary glands
  • Decaying and breaking ofteeth
  • Acid reflux and other stomach problems
  • High laxative use
  • Signs of dehydration
  • Calluses or scars on the knuckles or hands from sticking fingers down the throat to induce vomiting
  • Puffy “chipmunk” cheeks caused by repeated vomiting
  • Not underweight – Men and women with bulimia are usually normal weight or slightly overweight. Being underweight while purging might indicate a purging type of anorexia
  • Frequent fluctuations in weight – Weight may fluctuate by 10 pounds or more due to alternating episodes of bingeing and purging

And those with Binge eating disorder may show the following1

  • Eating unusually large amounts of food in a specific amount of time
  • Overeating even if not hungry
  • Quick gulping of food
  • Eating secretly
  • Regularly dieting but no losing of weight

Diagnosis

Eating disorders

EATING DISORDERS DIAGNOSIS

Eating disorders are diagnosed based on signs, symptoms and eating habits. Doctors may perform a physical and psychological examination. Sometimes, a psychologist may be needed to help with diagnosis.1

Management

Eating disorders

EATING DISORDERS AYURVEDIC TREATMENT

This includes the three components of chikitsa such as yukti vyapasraya, daiva vyapasraya and satvavachaya chikitsa. In the first entity, aushada, ahara, vihara are properly administered as per the assessed dosha status of the condition. Here either of the sodhana chikisa or shamana chikitsa are recommended.2

Abhyanga, Nasyakarma, Vasti Chikitsa may be beneficial.

Diet Recommendations (Aahar)

A wholesome healthy diet should be adhered to for mental health and happiness.

Certain herbs belonging to the class of Medhya drugs such as Mandukaparni (Centella asiatica), Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), Jatamansi (Nordostachys jatamansi) and Yastimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra) should be used often as a part of diet and lifestyle.3

Lifestyle changes (Vihar)

Achar rasayan (Good behavior and lifestyle) influences the Pravar Satva (Higher mental equilibrium).3

Supportive psychotherapy is recommended.2

FAQS

Eating disorders
  1. Why is stress bad for my health?
    Stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior. If left unchecked, stress can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Some of the common effect that stress can cause but we may not realize are -
  • Headache,
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Change in sex drive
  • Stomach upset
  • Sleep problems etc.

Hence it is very important that stress should not be ignored as a condition and immediate medical support should be sought for it.

  1. What are the reasons for depression/How does depression happen?

There are no specific reasons that can lead to depression. Every person responds to any situation in different ways.

Yet, depression can happen to anyone and at any age, but often begins in adulthood. Depression is now being diagnosed in children and adolescents too. There are no specific risk factors, but following things increase the chances of someone to have depression -

  • Personal or family history of depression
  • Major life changes, trauma, or stress
  • Certain physical illnesses and medications
  1. What is addiction? How does it affect someone?

Addiction refers to the dependence on a legal or illegal drug, alcohol or medication. When addicted, people are not able to control their use of the substance, and may continue using the drug despite the harm it causes. Alcohol/drug addiction can cause serious, long-term consequences, including problems with physical and mental health, relationships, employment, and the law.

  1. Why do I feel anxious without any apparent reason?

While the exact cause of generalized anxiety isn't fully understood, it's likely that a combination of several factors plays a role. Research has suggested that these may include over activity in areas of the brain involved in emotions and behavior or it may be genetic in origin. Often use of drugs, smoking or alcohol can be an underlying cause of anxiety.

However, many people develop anxiety for no apparent reason and it is therefore advisable to report it to the doctor and work towards managing the condition.

  1. Do children suffer from depression?

While depression is generally associated with adults or senior citizens, it is not uncommon for children to be diagnosed with both depression and an anxiety disorder, or depression and general anxiety.

Children whose parents have depression are at a greater risk of being depressed. Depression in children often presents with irritability, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, Change in school grades, getting into trouble at school, or refusing to go to school, change in eating habits etc. These symptoms should not be ignored and possibility of depression in such children may be considered.

  1. How is Bipolar disorder caused? Is it only genetic?

A lot of research in neuropsychology has shown that there is research has shown that there is no single cause responsible for BPD. Instead, it is likely that many factors contribute to the illness or increase risk. Genetics is just one of them.

While research suggests that people with certain genes are more likely to develop bipolar disorder than others, it is also seen that genes are not the only risk factor for bipolar disorder. Studies of identical twins have shown that even if one twin develops bipolar disorder, the other twin does not always develop the disorder, despite the fact that identical twins share all of the same genes.

  1. Are phobias serious to a personal health?

Generally speaking, a ‘phobia’ is an overwhelming and unreasonable fear of an object or situation that poses little real danger but provokes anxiety and avoidance in the sufferer. Although many feel that phobias are harmless, they can be destructive to those who have them, causing the following problems that affect many aspects of life - such as social isolation, depression, lead to substance abuse, and may be the reason behind suicide too.

  1. Are there any specific herbs that are specifically used to improve mental faculties?

Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia describes the various herbs and their qualities in details. Certain herbs belonging to the class of Medhya drugs such as Mandukaparni (Centella asiatica), Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), Jatamansi (Nordostachys jatamansi) and Yastimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra) are considered amongst herbs that improve mental faculties and should be used often as a part of diet and lifestyle especially for children.

  1. What are the common symptoms of dementia? Is any memory loss called Dementia?

Dementia is a syndrome (a group of related symptoms) associated with an ongoing decline of the brain and its abilities. A common symptom is memory loss but it is not the only symptom. Other problems can be low thinking speed, diminished mental agility, problems with language, understanding and judgement.

People with dementia can become apathetic or uninterested in their usual activities, and have problems controlling their emotions. They may also find social situations challenging, lose interest in socializing, and aspects of their personality may change.

  1. I often forget things or important tasks. Do I have Alzheimer’s disease?

Occasional forgetfulness or missing things due to lack of concentration or time may not necessarily be a serious condition. But if you continuously forget things or tend to forget simple day to day tasks – this may be an indication of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Any progressive memory loss should not be ignored and bought to medical attention, even if it seems negligible or not serious.

  1. I had a road rage incident today, I feel nervous and afraid to ride on the road again. Why is this so?

It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. Anyone can develop PTSD at any age. This includes war veterans, children, and people who have been through a physical or sexual assault, abuse, accident, disaster, or many other serious events. This needs to be bought to medical attention and can be managed with counseling and therapy.

  1. What are the consequences of inattentiveness or weak memory of school children? Does this need to be cared for?

A weak memory leading to learning problems can have long term adverse social and economic outcomes. They include grade repetition, behavioral disorders, mood and self-esteem difficulties and school failure during the school years, and unemployment and poverty in adulthood. By using medhya rasayana, Ayurved promises improvement in working memory and improved grades ad performance among school children.

  1. What is post partum depression? Does every new mother go through it?

New mothers generally report ‘baby blues’ immediately after childbirth, which commonly include mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. These symptoms typically begin within the first two to three days after delivery, and may last for up to two weeks. But some mothers experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression (PPD). Uncommonly, an extreme mood disorder called postpartum psychosis also may develop after childbirth.

References

Eating disorders
  1. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Eating disorders. Available at http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/eating-disorders/index.shtml accessed Aug 28th 2016
  2. Charak Samhita of Agnivesha. Vidhyotini Hindi Vyakhya- Sastry K & Chaturvedi G – Editors. Chaukhambha Bharati Academy, Varanasi 221001. Reprint 2011
  3. Shihabuddeen EM et. al. A randomized controlled trial on the efficacy of panchagavya ghrita in the management of obsessive compulsive disorder. Int. J. Res. Ayurveda Pharm. Mar - Apr 2014; 5(2): 140-44
  4. Mittal SK et. al. Role Of Ayurveda And Yoga In Mental Disorder Or Mental Illness. IAMJ. Oct 2014; Vol. 2(5): 664-71
  5. Dabur: Ayurvedic products and drugs. Available at http://www.daburmediclub.com/product.aspx accessed on Aug 19th 2016.
  6. http://www.helpguide.org/articles/eating-disorders/bulimia-nervosa.htm

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