This article is written by Helen Gaye

Treating The Whole Problem - Homeopathic Remedies For Eating Disorders


Helen Gaye

On the face of it, homeopathy would appear uniquely suited to the treatment of eating disorders. Eating disorders are complex problems, with tangled roots reaching into several aspects of the sufferer’s life. Psyche, biology, personal history, and the wider influence of society [1] all play their parts [2]. With its emphasis on treating the entire person and taking the surrounding context of an issue into as complete a consideration as possible, holistic homeopathy should have a certain advantage over more conventional medical science (which frequently takes a more exclusively symptomatic approach) when it comes to eating disorders. However, the very complexity of such eating disorders means that patients may themselves be resistant to treatment, or unwilling to commit wholly to a course of homeopathy. If you wish to take a homeopathic route for the treatment of an eating disorder, it is important to choose a homeopath who has plenty of knowledge and experience regarding these complicated, fraught, and increasingly common problems - particularly with reference to its psychological aspects. With the right homeopath for the patient, however, homeopathy can be deeply and profoundly healing.

The Growing Eating Disorder Epidemic

Eating disorders, once relatively unknown worldwide, are growing exponentially. More and more people are being diagnosed with eating disorders each year and, sadly, the death rate is rising. There are several theories as to why this is. The pressures of modern life come under fire, as do the increasingly unrealistic physical standards held to be ‘perfect’ within the media [3]. Some believe that the eating disorders phenomenon is a self-perpetuating issue, with sufferers and increased exposure of the issue both tacitly and explicitly encouraging the vulnerable to succumb. Social media may also have a significant part to play [4]. Whatever the cause, eating disorders are very serious illnesses. They have the highest mortality rate of any other mental illness - killing not only by organ failure brought on through malnutrition, but through despair and suicide as well. Once someone is within the grip of an eating disorder, it can be incredibly hard to help them. People with eating disorders frequently have a skewed perception of what their problem actually is. They may feel that they are, in fact, ‘treating’ themselves for things like excess weight, social issues, and more non-specific existential problems through calorie reduction. Frequently, sufferers feel that they have a ‘problem’ the precise nature of which eludes them. They feel that becoming thin would at least improve certain areas of their lives, and thus the physical aspects of the disorders begin to present themselves. Homeopathy can help to improve any physical issues arising from eating disorders while simultaneously investigating and smoothing out social, cultural, and psychological issues contributing to the problem and its related problems.

What Will A Homeopath Do?

The precise nature of a homeopathic treatment varies depending upon the practitioner. Most homeopaths practice a holistic approach [5] - but it’s worth noting that holistic methods are always better for the treatment of eating disorders, just in case. Lots of work has been done within the homeopathic and scientific communities regarding the best way to approach eating disorders from a homeopathic perspective [6]. It has been noted that medical science frequently struggles to treat the underlying causes of eating disorders. While hospitals are excellent at providing vital lifesaving physical treatments, they frequently fall short when it comes to aftercare [7] and eradicating the disease within the mind. Thus discharged patients return to their malnourished state and are readmitted again and again. Homeopathy’s emphasis on getting to the root of a problem, and viewing the issue within its entire context can really help to stop this cycle short. A holistic homeopath will explore the background, personality, social circles, psyche, and anything else of the patient which seems relevant. When triggers have been identified, the homeopath will work with the patient to attempt to mitigate these triggers, provoking healing from the inside out. As many eating disorder sufferers feel that their conditions are external representations of more nebulous inner problems, this kind of deep, holistic healing can be very helpful. A homeopath may also be able to prescribe treatments to ease both physical and mental symptoms, depending upon their precise therapeutic method.

[1] BBC News, “Media is fuelling eating disorders, say psychiatrists”, Feb 2010

[2] University of Maryland Medical Center, “Eating Disorders”

[3], “Body Image”

[4] Alice Park, “How Social Networks Spread Eating Disorders”, Time, Jan 2011

[5] CAMH, “Taking a holistic approach to health”, 2009

[6] Homeopathy Ezine, “A Qualitative Enquiry Into The Use Of Homeopathy for Eating Disorders: The Homeopath’s Perspective”, Feb 2012

[7] BobFM, “Hitchin Woman Warns ‘Lack of NHS Patient Aftercare Could Lead To Eating Disorder Relapse’”, Sept 2012