A Look at Alternative Treatment Approaches for Eating Disorders
Alternative medicine has proven to be beneficial to people with many types of psychological and physical ailments. While alternative treatments may not be a standalone option for most patients, they can be used alongside a comprehensive treatment program with an eating disorder therapist to support recovery. Take a look at this short list of alternative treatments for eating disorders and how they could be beneficial.
At Monte Nido, one of the health and wellness treatment components we use for eating disorder support is yoga. Yoga is excellent for reducing stress levels and encouraging relaxation or anxiety relief. A study titled "Body Awareness, Eating Attitudes, and Spiritual Beliefs of Women Practicing Yoga," the ending abstract stated, "Qualitative data reported improvements in body satisfaction and disordered eating due in part to yoga and its associated spirituality." Regular yoga sessions as part of a comprehensive recovery plan for an eating disorder can help patients gain a positive self-image and decrease feelings of negativity, anxiety and depression.
Massage therapy and chiropractic massage is a form of relaxation therapy that can naturally increase levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain to help those in eating disorder recovery feel better emotionally. There have been numerous studies on how massage benefits the psychological outlook, however, one is especially telling of benefits for eating disorder patients.
The NCBI published the results of a study performed on 19 women with anorexia nervosa. These women were given either standalone or standard treatment in conjunction with massage therapy two times every week for a five-week period. Those who received treatment and massage therapy showed a decrease in body dissatisfaction levels on the Eating Disorder Inventory. Plus, their initial response immediately after massage therapy showed a marked difference in stress hormone levels and anxiety.
The heart rate fluctuates with rising anxiety levels as a natural reaction in the body. For some patients, being able to physically see their anxiety increase based of heart rate variability (HRV) feedback on a monitor helps them take stress management steps in the moment. For example, if a patient with an eating disorder is wearing a heart rate monitor, sees their anxiety levels go up when in a certain situation, they can practice breathing techniques and meditation to bring anxiety levels and their heart rate down.
The Journal of Eating Disorders published the results of a pilot study that utilized HRV biofeedback training on patients with an eating disorder. In the study, 25 patients in an inpatient program for various eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa participated and the outcome showed HRV biofeedback was subjectively useful. About 47% of the 17 patients who followed the program claimed biofeedback reduced their anxiety levels.
Monte develops treatment programs for patients with eating disorders that boast multiple forms of therapy and therapeutic activities, including components such as yoga, meditation, individual family sessions, group therapy activities, physical therapy and a full list of life-enhancing experiences, sessions and outings; in addition to one-on-one communication with an eating disorder therapist and ongoing individual and group psychotherapy. If you would like to know more about our programs, reach out to us and one of our friendly staff members will answer any questions you may have.