An eating disorder is an abnormal relationship with food. Whether it is Anorexia, Bulimia or Binge Eating Disorder the behavioral traits(branches) of eating disorders are varied and often complex. Chinese medicine approaches eating disorders by not only trying to help the body heal from the physical damage caused by these disorders but also attempts to treat the “root” of eating disorders at the level of the spirit (emotions).
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From the Chinese medical model of the body each and every organ system has different energies associated with them. From the grossest energies that resonate with the organs, bowels, bone, tendons, muscle and the other physical parts of the anatomy, to the most finite aspects of the body which are associated with the spirit and the emotions.
“The Root” of eating disorders are largely anxiety or depression. The Suwen, one of the oldest Chinese classics on medicine, chapter 14 states that when the spirit (Jing Shen) of an organ system is disturbed, the organ can no longer perform its role to metabolize the nutrients and we have the appearance of the 100 diseases. In the Ling Shu, another medical classic, in a chapter titled “Evolution of a mental disease”, it states when the emotions are imbalanced there is always an effect on the physical body and as you address the Jing Shen (spirit) the physical issues will rebound as well. This is to tell you that treating the mental-emotional is extremely important. It is something that you don’t see and cannot touch but it is there and accompanies us in every second of our life. That which you cannot see or touch is what we call immaterial.
We can’t touch the anguish and anxiety or see the sadness in someone they are like the wind.
Look at the leaves moving in the spring. You do not see the wind. The leaf is matter, the physical aspect. The wind is energy, the immaterial aspect. It is energy that makes the leaves move. To understand why the leaves move, you must understand the energy. There is only one medicine, but it has 2 aspects: material and immaterial. The difference between Eastern and Western medicine is that the West looks at the leaf and the East looks at the wind.
– Dr. Tran Viet Dzung
This is why acupuncture is an energetic medicine. And this is why psychiatry is an excellent indication for acupuncture. Chinese medicine is often under-utilized in the modern era for mental emotional issues but when properly utilized it can be extremely effective.
To again reference the Chinese medical classics, bulimia is referenced in the Ling Shu chapter 21 and is attributed to emptiness of heart(shen) qi and in chapter 80 of the Ling Shu it says bulimia is stomach heat while anorexia is an obstruction energy at the level of the stomach. So to treat the bulimia or anorexia you must not only address the heart and spirit but also the physical part of the illness.
In a study performed by Guo Ke Ren, 30 cases of anorexia were treated; after a series of treatments, 25 cases were resolved and 5 responded with improvement, with an effectiveness rate of 100%. According to a UK study, “Significant improvements before and after treatment were found in their levels of depression. Many factors, as well as the acupuncture, may have contributed to these improvements.” (Guo Ke Ren, et al. Treating 30 cases of anorexia with acupuncture at Zu San Li. Journal of Acupuncture. 1999;19(7):427).
Eating disorders can affect anyone at any age. If you are suffering from Anorexia, Bulimia or Binge Eating, I hope you will contact me for help and discover a life that has more balance.