Traditional Chinese Medicine as an Effective Treatment of Eating Disorders

Western medicine views eating disorders as primarily a psychological issue, and treatment tends to focus on psychiatry, counselling, and medication. However, to the sufferer – and their loved ones – eating disorders can be like a monster, a constant threat to return and wreak havoc on their bodies and minds.

At their core, eating disorders involve a person’s distorted view of their weight and body shape, which manifests itself in an unhealthy relationship with food and eating. Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia are the two most common and well-known eating disorders. Anorexia is characterized by a refusal or inability to maintain a normal body weight, generally in the form of under-eating. Bulimia, on the other hand, is characterized by excessive and repeated binge-eating, followed by compensatory behaviours, such as fasting, vomiting, or over-exercising. In both cases, the sufferer believes their body weight or type is inadequate and resorts to extreme measures in order to compensate.

The Health Effects of Eating Disorders

We all know that our bodies need food and nutrients in order for us to function properly, to survive. Therefore, the effects of eating disorders can be devastating to the body and its functions. Some ailments associated with anorexia and bulimia include:

  • Rapid weight loss/gain

  • Constant dizziness & confusion

  • Headaches

  • Extreme fatigue

  • Heart disease

  • Tooth decay (bulimia)

  • Vitamin deficiency

  • Eating disorders body stem from a distorted image of one’s body

But it is not just the body that is affected by eating disorders. Because most eating disorders are psychological by nature, they can have extremely unhealthy effects on the mind as well. Some of these include:

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Insomnia

  • Social isolation

  • Suicidal thoughts & feelings

For many, eating disorders can be a lifelong battle. Luckily, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can help, and, more importantly, help in ways that conventional medicine cannot. 

TCM and Eating Disorders

TCM treats the body in a holistic manner, as a complete system with all parts & organs connected and working together through the flow of energy or “qi.” When there are blockages or imbalances in the flow of energy, ailments can occur. This includes eating disorders. Acupuncture and herbal remedies can unblock and balance the flow of energy in the body, thereby treating the root of the problem. 

TCM and acupuncture can effectively treat eating disorders.

TCM is perhaps most effective in dealing with the mental aspects of eating disorders. For many sufferers, overcoming the mental issues related to their eating disorders can lead to a restoration of their physical health. Acupuncture has long been proven as an effective treatment for depression and anxiety. As well, acupuncture and herbal remedies are highly effective at treating insomnia and related sleep disorders. 

When those suffering from eating disorders feel less depressed, less anxious, and less isolated, the effects of the disorder on their physical health decreases. Their feelings of self-worth and self-perception become less distorted. 

TCM views eating disorders as a disruption of flow and function in the digestive system. TCM and acupuncture works to restore balance and flow to the system. This results not only in the treatment of the symptoms and effects of eating disorders, but also rebalancing the digestive system in order to prevent recurrence. 

By focusing on both the mental and physical aspects of eating disorders, TCM and acupuncture can safely, holistically and effectively help to treat them. TCM can also be used in conjunction with conventional medicine treatments to achieve the best results.

If you are interested in seeking treatment for eating disorders, or are interested in any other aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine, book an appointment today by phoning 604-260-2713 or clicking the button below.

Cody Zhang