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Does Acupuncture Work For Anorexia?

Anorexia nervosa is a serious disorder that can lead to severe complications, including death. People affected by this condition intentionally refuse to eat food.  There’s no cure for this potentially life-threatening disease. However, alternative treatments such as acupuncture can help in dealing with this condition.

Acupuncture is a Chinese medicinal technique. It involves sticking needles into specific points of the body to impact the flow of qi  (vital energy.) Researchers in Melbourne conducted a  study to test whether acupuncture works for anorexia. The study showed positive results.

How Acupuncture Works For Anorexia?

Here’s how acupuncture worked for anorexia in the study.

  • Patients were administered treatment over a period of six weeks
  • Along with acupuncture, patients were given a light massage
  • Researchers also encouraged the patients to open up about their struggles with anorexia

Post the treatment, a questionnaire was given to the participants to record their experience. All patients spoke highly of the level of empathy, care, and nonjudgmental responses given to them. Also, they felt they could trust the people administering this treatment. The treatment decreased anxiety and depression in the participants significantly. The study also concluded that anorexic people needed mental support to start their physical healing. Also, they rate therapeutic treatments higher than anything else while battling anorexia.

The evidence above points out that the cure for anorexia starts in the mind. Therefore, anyone suffering from anorexia should speak with a mental health professional. Also, they should follow a disciplined regime of mental and physical health improvement.

In another study, acupuncture was used as a complementary treatment for anorexia in patients with gastrointestinal (GI) tract cancers. It was a small study involving 7 patients. However, the results are positive. Acupuncture seemed to improve appetite and slow down weight loss in these patients.

To conclude, acupuncture does seem like a promising treatment for anorexia. Acupuncture has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for centuries.  While large-scale studies are needed, there’s no harm in trying out this safe therapy against a life-threatening disease.

Mahesh Jayaraman
Mahesh is a traditional acupressure therapist and health counselor. He is certified in Functional Nutrition from Washington State University and uses a wide array of healing modalities to guide his clients to vibrant health and well-being.
Mahesh Jayaraman

Latest posts by Mahesh Jayaraman (see all)

Stojanskova,L;McAinch,A.J;Zaslawski,C;Harris,D;Fogarty,S; Acupuncture as adjunct therapy in the treatment of eating disorders: a randomized cross-over pilot study, Complementary Therapies in Medicine 18(6). 2010 Dec:

Hay,P et al; Patients with anorexia nervosa receiving acupuncture or acupressure; their view of the therapeutic encounter, Complementary Therapies in Medicine 21. 2013 Aug,31:

McIntire,N; TCM and Treatment of Eating Disorders; Acupuncture Today 13(10). 2012 Oct:

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Medical And General Disclaimer for
This article is intended for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. strongly recommends that you consult a medical practitioner for implementing any of the above. Results may vary from person to person.

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