Note: Do consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment of this condition. Use home remedies just as an adjunct treatment.
Anorexia nervosa, known simply as anorexia, is an eating disorder that can result in severe weight loss. The main characteristics of this disorder are abnormally low body weight, intense fear of gaining weight and an inaccurate perception of one’s body weight.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, anorexia is mostly diagnosed in adolescent women, however it has been diagnosed in children as young as age 7 and adults as old as 80.
The exact cause of anorexia nervosa is unknown, but the disorder is believed to result from a combination of emotional, psychological, social and physical triggers.
Genetics and hormones may contribute to its development. Excessive pressure from society to look thin and attractive may also be a factor. People with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may also struggle with anorexia.
To lose weight and maintain low weight, people who have anorexia eat few calories, follow abnormal eating habits and exercise excessively. Some people also use laxatives, diuretics or induce vomiting to eliminate food they have eaten.
Some symptoms of anorexia are low body weight, fatigue, insomnia, pale skin, brittle nails, hair loss, skin dryness, constipation, depression, irregular menstrual cycles, low blood pressure and withdrawal from social activities.
When not treated timely, anorexia can lead to numerous complications, such as abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias), an imbalance of electrolytes in the body, anemia, bone loss, kidney problems and more.
People with anorexia usually do not even realize that they have a problem, which makes treatment difficult. Thus, the treatment involves psychological therapy and also aims to increase a person’s appetite to help establish healthy eating habits and restore a normal weight.
Treatment requires the help of professionals. At the same time, you can try some lifestyle changes and home remedies to assist in the treatment.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for anorexia.
One of the best home remedies for anorexia is garlic. It acts as a natural appetite stimulant. Moreover, it helps in the secretion of juices that cleanse the digestive system.
- Add 3 to 4 finely chopped garlic cloves to 1 cup of water.
- Boil it for a few minutes, then strain the solution.
- Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and a pinch of rock salt to it.
- Drink this solution twice daily for a few weeks.
Ginger is another simple and effective home remedy for anorexia. It stimulates appetite so that you do not skip your meals. It can also effectively calm your nerves and reduce stress and anxiety.
- Take ½ teaspoon of finely chopped ginger and add a pinch of rock salt to it. Consume it 30 minutes prior to meals every day for a couple of weeks.
- Another option is to mix ½ teaspoon of ginger paste, a few drops of lemon and a pinch of both asafetida and black pepper powder. Eat it once daily on an empty stomach for a few weeks.
- You can also drink a few cups of ginger tea daily.
Fresh fruits like oranges can effectively treat anorexia by stimulating your appetite. Oranges will help boost your digestive heath. It is important to cleanse your digestive system, as without it, you will not feel hungry. In addition, the uplifting smell of oranges and orange peels helps calm the nerves and fight depression and anxiety.
- Eat a few oranges or drink a glass of fresh orange juice a few times daily to increase appetite. To make the juice more delicious, add rock salt, lemon juice and a dash of black pepper.
- To improve your mood, inhale the aroma of orange peels.
Mint is natural appetizer, hence you can use it to treat anorexia. Its strong, distinct taste and attractive aroma help improve appetite. In addition, it can relieve heightened emotional stress.
- Eat 2 teaspoons of freshly extracted mint juice each morning.
- Also, drink a few cups of mint tea daily. To make the tea, add 2 teaspoons of dry mint leaves in a cup of hot water. Steep for 10 minutes, strain and drink it.
A 2001 study published in the journal Eating Disorder found that massage therapy twice a week can help reduce symptoms of anorexia. It helps lower stress and anxiety levels. It also increases dopamine and norepinephrine levels that help create a much more positive and healthy body image.
When it comes to massage, remedial massage is the best option. It is a therapeutic massage that involves the systematic manipulation of the body’s soft tissues. Get this massage done by a trained massage therapist at least 3 or 4 times a week.
You can also massage your body, especially your neck, shoulders, back and the bottoms of your feet, with olive oil or coconut oil before going to bed. This will help relax your body and relieve anxiety.
Yoga can help combat the emotional causes of anorexia. According to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, individualized yoga therapy holds promise as adjunctive therapy to standard care for anorexia and other eating disorders.
Some of the yoga poses that are helpful in treating anorexia are the Crab Pose (Catuspadapitham), Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana), Locust Pose (Salabhasana), Mountain Pose (Tadasana), Goddess Pose (Utkata Konasana) and Squat Pose (Malasana).
Learn these yoga poses from an expert to be sure you are doing them properly.
7. Lemon Balm
Another natural home remedy for anorexia is lemon balm. It works as a mild relaxant and nerve tonic. It helps improve appetite, reduce anxiety, ease stress and promote sleep.
- Add 1 teaspoon of dried lemon balm to a cup of hot water.
- Cover and steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Drink a cup of this tea twice daily for a couple of weeks.
Note: Do not use this herb in excess. It may make you more anxious.
8. Herbal Tea
Certain herbal teas can increase appetite and improve your interest in eating. A cup of refreshing herbal tea, such as green, chamomile, sage or thyme tea, can also fight fatigue, stress and anxiety. It can also improve mental focus and keep you hydrated and energized.
Try drinking a cup or two of your favorite herbal tea a day to increase your fluid intake and potentially increase your appetite.
9. Acupuncture and Acupressure
Both acupuncture and acupressure help people with eating disorders like anorexia by increasing a sense of well-being and promoting relaxation.
According to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, researchers concluded that acupuncture and acupressure might improve the subjective sense of well-being among people with anorexia nervosa. However further research is needed.
The acupuncture and acupressure points to treat eating disorders are Hegu (LI4), Zusanli (ST36), Neiguan (PC6), Taichong (LR3) and Yanglingquan (GB34).
Find a trained practitioner to do the acupuncture for you.
Meditation is another effective way to fight anorexia. It can help when dealing with emotional struggles to relax your mind and soul. With the help of meditation, you can start thinking positively and fight off negative thoughts.
You can do meditation in different ways, either by:
- Sitting, standing or lying down and focusing on your breath, or
- Repeating a phrase or mantra.
While meditating, try to let go of any stressful conflicts that arise in the mind and body, without condemning them. If you are not able to practice meditation on your own, join a group or club.
- Attend group therapy regularly.
- Try your best not to stray from meal plans, even if they make you uncomfortable.
- Make a habit of eating breakfast daily, as it is essential for health. Then, eat several small meals throughout the day.
- Start your meal with vegetable soups, as they are good appetizers. A fruit or vegetable salad eaten before each meal is another effective treatment for anorexia.
- Eat more spicy foods to help create a strong appetite.
- Eat a handful of walnuts and almonds daily, as they can help improve emotional health.
- If needed, take nutritional supplements to help restore your body to a normal weight and establish healthy eating habits. Consult your doctor first.
- Drink sufficient water throughout the day but do not fill up on water only.
- Family support and encouragement is important for the patient’s recovery.
- Parents should teach their children how to lead healthy and active lifestyles.
- Parents should also promote positive thinking within their children through compliments and constructive criticism.