Alternative medicine

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Usually, when people turn to alternative medicine it's to improve their health, but for people with eating disorders this isn't always the case. Alternative medicine treatments have both negative and positive consequences when it comes to eating disorders.

The bad

There are numerous dietary supplements and herbal products designed to suppress the appetite or aid in weight loss, and these products may be abused by people with eating disorders. Many people with eating disorders have used such products. These products can have potentially dangerous interactions with other medications, such as laxatives or diuretics, that are commonly used by people with eating disorders. Additionally, weight-loss supplements or herbs can have serious side effects on their own, such as irregular heartbeats, tremors, hallucinations, insomnia, nausea, dizziness and nervousness. Discuss the potential risks of using dietary supplements or herbs for weight loss with your doctor.

The good

Although no alternative or complementary therapies have been conclusively found to be helpful for people with eating disorders, some research has suggested that several treatments may provide benefits, particularly for reducing anxiety.

Treatments generally considered safe that may help improve your mood and reduce stress and anxiety include:

  • Chamomile tea
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Yoga
  • Biofeedback
Feb. 08, 2012