an eating disorder which involves the compulsive eating of large quantities of food over a
short space of time. The Binges are usually followed by periods of strict dieting and
What to look for
alternating bingeing and
unrealistic fear of
(although relatively normal weight may be maintained).
overuse of laxatives.
tooth enamel erosion, gum infections, cavities, and tooth discolouration
Bulimia is an eating disorder
that, like anorexia nervosa, is psychological in origin
and both involve an obsession with food and weight and can have fatal consequences. While
anorexics simply starve themselves, Bulimics binge on food and then purge by self-induced
vomiting. Bulimics also frequently use diet pills, laxatives, and diuretics to reduce
their weight. They are usually secretive about their bingeing so therefore it may take
quite a while before the problem is detected.
Bulimia can occur on its own
or with anorexia. Despite their overlap, the two disorders are associated with some
different personality traits: Anorexics are apt to suppress all urges, including sexual
ones; Bulimics, on the other hand, tend to indulge their desires, impulsively getting into
trouble with drugs, sexual promiscuity, shoplifting, or binge buying.
How well a bulimic person is
depends on how often they binge and purge. They may vomit occasionally or very frequently.
Physical repercussions include swelling of the stomach or pancreas, inflammation of the
oesophagus, enlarged salivary glands, and tooth decay and gum disease from vomiting
Frequent vomiting also
depletes the water and potassium in bodily tissues, causing abnormal heart rhythms, muscle
spasms, and even paralysis. In severe cases, some of these physical problems can lead to
death. Suicide is also of concern among these patients.
Bulimia is an illness
that needs to be monitored by professionals and in most cases the Bulimics will not regain
health on their own.
Pressures and conflicts
within the family are thought to be the primary cause of bulimia. A bulimic is apt to be
an over-achiever and perfectionist who feels she can't live up to her parents'
expectations. She has low self-esteem and often suffers from depression. A history of
abuse is common in bulimia sufferers.
Successful treatment depends
on the person involved realising that they have a problem and that their health is in
danger. Treatment with an experienced doctor or psychologist is the usual treatment as
well as training in nutrition. There are clinics which specialise in treatment of bulimic
patients; it is vital that all doctors and specialists involved work together.
Antidepressants are now used
in bulimia therapy regularly.
Most alternative therapies
for bulimia do not address the root causes of the disorder, but they can be helpful in
relieving some of the physical distress resulting from it.
Herbal Therapies -
Use any herbal therapies that reduce
anxiety or depression. To soothe stomach pains or mouth inflammation, try marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis) or slippery elm (Ulmus fulva) powder.
- Homoeopathic medicine offers potentially beneficial prescriptions for eating
disorders. In difficult cases, where conventional medicine has not been successful,
consider seeking out a Homoeopath who has experience in treating bulimia.
The bulimic should be on a
balanced diet of all the main food groups, avoiding sugar. Also eliminate alcohol,
caffeine, flavour enhancers, most salt, and cigarettes. Supplement daily with vitamin C, vitamin B complex, and a
When to seek further
you find yourself secretly
bingeing, then vomiting or using laxatives.
you avoid eating in front
of other people.
your child has an
unreasonable fear of being fat and thinks she's fat when she's not.
your child avoids eating
with others or goes to the bathroom immediately after meals.