The term ‘eating disorder’ is extremely broad. It may represent a food phobia leading to deficiencies and illness, excessive eating leading to obesity or the conditions of anorexia or bulimia.

Any of the eating disorders may be mild, moderate or severe and move from one category to another. Severe and prolonged eating disorders will lead to ill-health and be potentially fatal. With anorexia, which strikes most usually in young females (20 girls to 1 boy) below the age of 25 years, 1 in 10 will be admitted to hospital and 1 in 10 of these will die.

Eating disorders are rarely caused by physical conditions, although any eating disorder can lead to pathology. It is unusual for a food allergy to create anorexia or bulimia but it may well create a phobia towards a food or to overeating leading to obesity.

More commonly, eating disorders are in fact an imbalance of energy or a matter of psychological concern. The Eastern philosophies consider the stomach to be the energy meridian responsible for the intake and absorption of food. The small intestine and heart meridians are involved in absorption and distribution and the liver meridian is concerned with energy for the processing. Imbalance in any of these meridians can lead to the apparent condition of an eating disorder.

The orthodox world will most often cite emotional disturbance as the cause. Suppressed or unrecognized anger, depression, low self-esteem or psychosexual crises are all found in association with eating disorders.

In my practice I have noted a tendency for those with eating disorders to fall into a category that I define as the ‘pretty-person syndrome’. At some point in a child’s development, usually at a psychologically susceptible age (often around puberty), the child has found him/herself in a situation where physical appearance or beauty has taken on a profound sociological meaning. Very often this stems from overadoring parents or finding oneself in a social group that places too much emphasis on prettiness or ideal body measurements. The correlation between being sociably acceptable and being thin is very much a Western development, as indeed are eating disorders. The association, therefore, between the perfect body and not eating is clearly seen.

At some point in our development we consider our own inner self-worth. If our society (parental or social) focuses on our outward appearance then the inner self or soul questions whether it is loved for itself or the shell in which it is encased. By shutting off that part of our consciousness that truly sees the shape of the body and by focusing on the ‘unattractiveness’ of fat, the subconscious can feel confident that if someone likes the individual then it is because of them and not because of the way they look. There are many holes in this argument as being the underlying cause of eating disorders and in particularly anorexia, but it may account for why the disfigurement of anorexia is not seen by the individual and why a large number of sufferers are often young and attractive and can be found in the modelling, acting or singing professions.


Establishing an eating disorder requires not only the individual’s perception but also the input from those around because the patient may not be aware.

Ten to twenty per cent of body weight loss must be apparent in association with dieting or irregular eating patterns before an eating disorder should be considered as a diagnosis.

Self-help is usually inadequate and counselling from psychotherapists and nutritionists is advisable: the former to deal with the cause and the latter to deal with the inevitable imbalances that occur.

Biochemical changes such as depression and cessation of periods are often associated with dehydration. Try to ensure that 4-6 pints of water are taken per day regardless of any other intake.

Mineral deficiencies, particularly zinc, are associated, whether as a cause or an effect is uncertain.

Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia is the medical term for a loss of appetite. Anorexia nervosa is a severe condition where individuals starve themselves because they incorrectly view their body as overweight. This psychological pathology occurs 20 times more frequently in girls than in boys and can range from mild obsession to being a fatal condition.


If you or someone close recognizes that your dieting is encroaching into your lifestyle, sit down with a counsellor and discuss the matter. There may be an early sign of anorexia nervosa.

If you disagree with other people’s image of your body, go to see a counsellor.

Do not assume that this problem will go away by itself. Go to see a counsellor.

Having seen a counsellor, you may consider sitting with a nutritional expert to establish whether any supplementation is necessary to replace deficiencies.

See a homeopath to obtain a constitutional remedy.


This is a non-medical term for an insatiable appetite with excessive food intake. It is in common use for the correct medical term Buli-marexia, where an individual will alternate bingeing or gorging with self-emptying by enforced vomiting, prolonged fasting or self-induced diarrhoea, usually under the influence of laxatives.

Bulimics are not as obvious as anorexics because their body features may not change. Bulimia, unlike anorexia, does not focus itself in young adults only and has quite an even distribution of ages.

Bulimia is less inclined to lead to physical pathology although vomiting can tear the oesophagus and cause biochemical imbalances and is considered much more of a psychological problem occurring in young, affluent women who have low self-esteem, a history of rejection or a fear of failure.


Constitutional prescribing by a qualified homeopath is highly recommended.