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Bulimia nervosa is a type of eating disorder. People with bulimia engage in recurrent binging and purging, such as eating lots of food in a short amount of time, self-induced vomiting, fasting, the use of laxatives, enemas, diuretics and overexercising.

Affecting people of all age groups, genders, and backgrounds worldwide, eating disorders are complex and life-threatening conditions, marked by challenging relationships with food and weight. Among them, bulimia nervosa is one of the most common.

Bulimia usually has deep psychological roots and no single cause and can be difficult to spot, categorise and treat. However, recovery is possible, in time, and with the right emotional and professional support.

If you are interested in knowing more about Chinese Medicine’s natural approach to bulimia and eating disorders and restoring optimal health and quality of life, keep reading or visit us at our AcuMedic Clinic in London. With more than 30 years of experience, we take an integrated approach to addressing a wide range of conditions, including bulimia and EDs.

How can we help?

Endorsed by The World Health Organization (WHO) since 1979 as a promising treatment for a large number of ailments, Chinese Medicine has a long history of supporting recovery from various types of eating disorders (ED’s) and relieving the mental and emotional distress associated with them.

According to research, Chinese Medicine might help ease the distress of recovery by working with the nervous system and triggering the release of endorphin and happy chemicals. This, in turn, can relieve anxiety and aid in stress reduction. Additionally, acupuncture can help address other health complaints that typically accompany eating disorders, such as dry skin, fatigue, concentration difficulties, anaemia, muscle cramps, hair loss, insomnia, mood disorders and low energy.

Chinese Medicine treatments for bulimia vary depending on each individual case and circumstance. They usually consist of a tailored blend of acupuncture and highly personalised herb formulas, alongside lifestyle recommendations and advice.

Treatment is aimed at restoring proper health, through addressing physical complaints and symptoms such as abdominal bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, nausea, and reflux but also emotional complaints, including depression, anxiety, obsessive symptoms, cravings, insomnia, social withdrawal, and irritability.

How quickly will you see results?

We usually recommend a course of 3 to 4 weeks of acupuncture sessions and daily herbal formulas to start seeing consistent results, although, with acupuncture, most clients begin noticing improvements after one or two sessions. In fact, relief can be immediate, and a feeling of mental and physical relaxation is often the first effect of acupuncture a patient notices.

Regular treatments are key to recovery. The number and frequency of treatments will be tailored to your specific needs and will vary depending on the type and severity of the disorder. Your treatment plan will be regularly reassessed based on your progress.

About Bulimia Nervosa

Eating disorders are remarkably dangerous illnesses that, regardless of the specific diagnosis, severely compromise and impact both physical and mental health and quality of life. While they come in several forms, they all involve, at their core, a distorted view of one’s weight and body shape, which translates into an unhealthy relationship with food and eating.

Bulimia nervosa, together with anorexia nervosa, is one of the most common and well-known eating disorders. Bulimia is characterized by patterns of excessive and repeated binge-eating followed by compensatory and self-destructive behaviours, such as excessive fasting, over-exercising or purging – generally via vomiting and misuse of laxatives or diuretics.

A close relative of Bulimia which is increasingly common and worth mentioning here is Binge Eating Disorder (BED). Similar to bulimia, it involves eating large and uncomfortable amounts of food in a very short amount of time, but without purging behaviours.

The medical complications of bulimia are many and potentially life-threatening. They range from electrolyte imbalances, heart arrhythmias, tooth erosion, oesophagal tears, laxative dependence, and even heart failure. In fact, multiple body systems can be severely impacted by EDs, including the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and endocrine systems. Among these, the digestive system is, typically, the most disrupted system of the body with symptoms ranging from extreme abdominal bloating and discomfort, nausea, constipation, diarrhoea, acid reflux and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Eating disorders can have extremely unhealthy effects on the mind as well. In fact, it’s not uncommon for those who suffer from bulimia or other EDs, to have depression, anxiety, and insomnia, or to experience social withdrawal and suicidal thoughts and feelings.

For many, an eating disorder is a lifelong battle. Luckily, the right therapeutic approach and emotional support can help.

Western Medical View

Western medicine views eating disorders primarily as a psychological issue often rooted in extremely low self-esteem and a tendency to obsessive and compulsive behaviour. Biological factors, such as hormones and chemical imbalances in the brain are thought to also play a role in the development of bulimia.

Standard, conventional treatments tend to focus on the emotional side of the disorder and typically include psychological therapy, nutritional counselling and medical evaluation, which are all important elements of thorough care.

However, given the challenges of recovery, an integrated approach that includes non-conventional therapies, to regain emotional and physical health is often recommended as it can make the process smoother and more comfortable for the patient.

Chinese Medical View

Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, rather than a sum of isolated parts. This means that health issues can often stem from the imbalance of another organ system and it rarely impacts one system only. Hence, treatment for “bulimia nervosa” is rarely designed with “bulimia nervosa” exclusively in mind.

The major organs involved in bulimia nervosa are thought to be the Stomach ZF, Liver ZF, Spleen ZF and Kidney ZF.

Congenital deficiency, improper diet, emotional imbalance or drug-related problems can all bring on bulimia nervosa.

Acupuncture in combination with a specially tailored herbal formula can be prescribed to treat both the physical and emotional factors behind bulimia nervosa. Therapies aim at harmonizing digestion, absorption and metabolism. The goal is to build up the body’s strength and tonifyi the organs, restoring balance and flow to the system while also relieving emotional struggles and concerns, addressing anxiety, overthinking, worry, and stress.

Over time the sense of well-being gained from treatment can help the patient develop a healthier relationship with food, paving the way for a successful recovery.

Lifestyle Advice

Bulimia and eating disorders are serious and potentially life-threatening conditions that require professional help.

Here are a couple of general tips that we hope might help you:

Listen to your body. Learning to listen to your body and making peace with food is one of the first steps on the way to recovery. It’s also one of the hardest, so be kind to yourself.

Be patient. Patience with oneself is key too, as ups and downs and relapses can happen. It’s crucial to see them just as temporary setbacks on the way to recovery.

Find healthy ways to manage overwhelming emotions. One key piece of advice when it comes to bulimia and eating disorders is to try and find healthy ways to address and manage emotional stress, irritability, anger, frustration or resentment. Try a relaxation technique, like deep breathing, or yoga or take a walk in nature.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for more personalised advice or pop into our Clinic for a brief chat. We’re here to help.