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Health Condition

Eating Disorders

  • Multivitamin

    Taking a multivitamin-mineral provides the body with much-needed nutrients that are often lacking in people who restrict their food intake.

    Dose:

    Take as directed on label
    Multivitamin
    ×
     

    People with eating disorders who restrict their food intake are at risk for multiple nutrient deficiencies, including protein, calcium, iron, riboflavin, niacin,4folic acid,5vitamin A, vitamin C,6 and vitamin B6,7 and essential fatty acids.8 A general multivitamin-mineral formula can reduce the detrimental health effects of these deficiencies.

  • 5-HTP

    5-HTP has been shown to reduce appetite in weight-control and diabetes trials. However, what effect 5-HTP has on people with eating disorders is unknown

    Dose:

    Refer to label instructions
    5-HTP
    ×

    A serotonin precursor, 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan), has been shown to reduce appetite in weight-control and diabetes trials.9,10,11 However, what effect 5-HTP has, if any, on people with binge eating disorder, bulimia, or anorexia is unknown. Unlike L-tryptophan, 5-HTP is available from health food stores and some pharmacies without prescription.

What Are Star Ratings
×
Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

Holistic Options

Psychological counseling, for both the individual and her family, and behavior modification training are also commonly used for people with eating disorders, often as part of a team approach that also includes nutrition counseling and medical care. Numerous preliminary and controlled studies have shown that the psychotherapy technique known as cognitive-behavioral therapy is effective in reducing the symptoms of bulimia.12,13 For example, one study found 69% of a group receiving cognitive-behavioral therapy were abstaining from binge-eating and purging six months later compared to only 15% of a group keeping a diary of their behavior.14 Preliminary studies15 and one controlled trial16 suggest another technique, interpersonal psychotherapy, is equally effective for people with bulimia. Cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy have also been effective for people with binge-eating disorder in controlled trials,17,18 resulting in cessation of binge-eating in almost half of the subjects in one report.19

The effectiveness of psychotherapy for anorexia nervosa is less clear.20,21 One controlled trial found that psychotherapy (type unspecified) significantly improved weight gain compared to no treatment, and complete or nearly complete recovery occurred in 60% of the patients.22 Two other studies comparing different types of psychotherapy for anorexia nervosa found comparable improvement from all types;23,24 one of these studies reported moderate improvement in 63% of cases.23 Long-term effectiveness of psychotherapy for eating disorders has not been studied.

References

1. Zerbe KJ. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. When the pursuit of bodily ‘perfection' becomes a killer. Postgrad Med 1996;99:161-4, 167-9 [review].

2. Garner DM, Garner MV, Rosen LW. Anorexia nervosa “restricters who purge”: implications for subtyping anorexia nervosa. Int J Eat Disord 1993;13:171-85.

3. Spitzer RL, Yanovski S, Wadden T, et al. Binge eating disorder: its further validation in a multisite study. Int J Eat Disord 1993;13:137-53.

4. Thibault L, Roberge AG. The nutritional status of subjects with anorexia nervosa. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 1987;57:447-52.

5. Abou-Saleh MT, Coppen A. The biology of folate in depression: implications for nutritional hypotheses of the psychoses. J Psychiatr Res 1986;20:91-101 [review].

6. Beaumont PJ, Chambers TL, Rouse L, Abraham SF. The diet composition and nutritional knowledge of patients with anorexia nervosa. J Hum Nutr 1981;35:265-73.

7. Rock CL, Vasantharajan S. Vitamin status of eating disorder patients: relationship to clinical indices and effect of treatment. Int J Eat Disord 1995;18:257-62.

8. Langan SM, Farrell PM. Vitamin E, vitamin A and essential fatty acid status of patients hospitalized for anorexia nervosa. Am J Clin Nutr 1985;41:1054-60.

9. Ceci F, Cangiano C, Cairella M, et al. The effects of oral 5-hydroxytryptophan administration on feeding behavior in obese adult female subjects.J Neural Transm 1989;76(2):109-17.

10. Cangiano C, Ceci F, Cascino A, et al. Eating behavior and adherence to dietary prescriptions in obese adult subjects treated with 5-hydroxytryptophan. Am J Clin Nutr 1992;56:863-7.

11. Cangiano C, Laviano A, Del Ben M, et al. Effects of oral 5-hydroxy-tryptophan on energy intake and macronutrient selection in non-insulin dependent diabetic patients. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 1998;22:648-54.

12. Peterson CB, Mitchell JE. Psychosocial and pharmacological treatment of eating disorders: a review of research findings. J Clin Psychol 1999;55:685-97 [review].

13. Mitchell JE, Raymond N, Specker S. A review of the controlled trials of pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy in the treatment of bulimia nervosa. Int J Eat Disord 1993;14:229-47 [review].

14. Thackwray DE, Smith MC, Bodfish JW, Meyers AW. A comparison of behavioral and cognitive-behavioral interventions for bulimia nervosa. J Consult Clin Psychol 1993;61:639-45.

15. Agras WS. Nonpharmacologic treatments of bulimia nervosa. J Clin Psychiatry 1991;52 Suppl:29-33 [review].

16. Fairburn CG, Norman PA, Welch SL, et al. A prospective study of outcome in bulimia nervosa and the long-term effects of three psychological treatments. Arch Gen Psychiatry 1995;52:304-12.

17. Peterson CB, Mitchell JE, Engbloom S, et al. Group cognitive-behavioral treatment of binge eating disorder: a comparison of therapist-led versus self-help formats. Int J Eat Disord 1998;24:125-36.

18. Wilfley DE, Agras WS, Telch CF, et al. Group cognitive-behavioral therapy and group interpersonal psychotherapy for the nonpurging bulimic individual: a controlled comparison. J Consult Clin Psychol 1993;61:296-305.

19. Carter JC, Fairburn CG. Cognitive-behavioral self-help for binge eating disorder: a controlled effectiveness study. J Consult Clin Psychol 1998;66:616-23.

20. Pike KM. Long-term course of anorexia nervosa: response, relapse, remission, and recovery. Clin Psychol Rev 1998;18:447-75 [review].

21. Eisler I, Dare C, Russell GF, et al. Family and individual therapy in anorexia nervosa. A 5-year follow-up. Arch Gen Psychiatry 1997;54:1025-30.

22. Gowers S, Norton K, Halek C, Crisp AH. Outcome of outpatient psychotherapy in a random allocation treatment study of anorexia nervosa. Int J Eat Disord 1994;15:165-77.

23. Treasure J, Todd G, Brolly M, et al. A pilot study of a randomised trial of cognitive analytical therapy vs educational behavioral therapy for adult anorexia nervosa. Behav Res Ther 1995;33:363-7.

24. Robin AL, Siegel PT, Koepke T, et al. Family therapy versus individual therapy for adolescent females with anorexia nervosa. J Dev Behav Pediatr 1994;15:111-6.

25. Drewnowski A, Halmi KA, Pierce B, et al. Taste and eating disorders. Am J Clin Nutr 1987;46:442-50.

26. Casper RC, Pandy GN, Jaspan JB, Rubenstein AH. Hormone and metabolite plasma levels after oral glucose in bulimia and healthy controls. Biol Psychiatry 1988;24:663-74.

27. van der Ster Wallin G, Norring C, Holmgren S. Binge eating versus nonpurged eating in bulimics: is there a carbohydrate craving after all? Acta Psychiatr Scand 1994;89:376-81.

28. Blouin AG, Blouin J, Bushnik T, et al. A double-blind placebo-controlled glucose challenge in bulimia nervosa: psychological effects. Biol Psychiatry 1993;33:160-8.

29. Johnson WG, Jarrell MP, Chupurdia KM, Williamson DA. Repeated binge/purge cycles in bulimia nervosa: role of glucose and insulin. Int J Eat Disord 1994;15:331-41.

30. Drewnowski A, Halmi KA, Pierce B, et al. Taste and eating disorders. Am J Clin Nutr 1987;46:442-50.

31. Casper RC, Pandy GN, Jaspan JB, Rubenstein AH. Hormone and metabolite plasma levels after oral glucose in bulimia and healthy controls. Biol Psychiatry 1988;24:663-74.

32. van der Ster Wallin G, Norring C, Holmgren S. Binge eating versus nonpurged eating in bulimics: is there a carbohydrate craving after all? Acta Psychiatr Scand 1994;89:376-81.

33. Blouin AG, Blouin J, Bushnik T, et al. A double-blind placebo-controlled glucose challenge in bulimia nervosa: psychological effects. Biol Psychiatry 1993;33:160-8.

34. Johnson WG, Jarrell MP, Chupurdia KM, Williamson DA. Repeated binge/purge cycles in bulimia nervosa: role of glucose and insulin. Int J Eat Disord 1994;15:331-41.

35. Davis C, Katzman DK, Kaptein S, et al. The prevalence of high-level exercise disorders: etiological implications. Compr Psychiatry 1997;38:321-6.

36. Davis C, Kennedy SH, Ravelski E, Dionne M. The role of physical activity in the development and maintenance of eating disorders. Psychol Med 1994;24:957-67.

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2019.

Drugs used to treat EATING DISORDERS. Select drug name to view medication information and pricing