Aromatherapy for Eating Disorders
Aromatherapy can be an effective treatment or complementary treatment for most eating disorders. Because most of these types of disorders stem from psychological factors, essential oils can be effective alternative treatments.
Eating disorders are prevalent in teens and young adults but definitely don’t shy away from anyone of any age. They can range from minor to severe and can even become addictive in nature. Depression and anxiety often accompany eating disorders and can also trigger these destructive behaviours.
Eating Disorder Warning Signs
It’s important to be mindful of behaviours in your children or loved ones that could mean they are experiencing some sort of eating disorder, or on the road to doing so. Some warning signs include:
- Obsession with weight, calories, and dieting.
- Never hungry.
- Dramatic weight loss.
- Consistently avoiding meal times.
- Obsession with physical activity to burn calories.
Essential Oils for Eating Disorders
There are specific aromatherapy blends than can help treat or lessen some of the underlying causes and reactions:
- Bergamot – antidepressant, appetite regulator.
- Mandarin – promotes joy, calms nerves, eases digestion.
- Orange – uplifting, sedating, curbs appetite.
- Lemon – uplifting, promotes mental clarity.
- Ginger – eases digestion, stimulating, promotes courage, uplifting.
- Frankincense – promotes spiritual awareness, uplifting, calming.
- Lavender – calming, uplifting.
- Grapefruit – uplifting, controls appetite.
- Clary sage – balances hormones, calming.
- Cinnamon – curbs appetite, regulates blood sugar.
Anorexia is a condition where a person starves his/herself or eats very little as a result of a poor body image. It stems from a fear of gaining weight but is usually much deeper psychologically. People with anorexia become obsessed with their bodies and weight and can cause irreparable damage to their bodies and organs.
Psychotherapy is imperative in most cases of anorexia as it can be deadly. But essential oils can serve as a wonderful supplemental treatment for the disorder.
Using essential oils for aromatherapy stimulates the limbic, or “feelings” centre of the brain. So coming up with the perfect blend for your own unique needs is important in treating your emotions. For example, if depression is at the root of your disorder, diffusing 5 drops bergamot, 2 drops frankincense and 2 drops mandarin throughout the day can help lift your spirits and centre your emotions.
Bulimia is a condition where a person overeats and then causes his/herself to purge. Not only does this disorder rob your body of nutrients, it also does a great deal of damage to the intestines and oesophagus over time.
Bulimia is also a condition with deep psychological roots and is often a means of regaining control. Both conditions can stem from childhood abuse or severe self-esteem issues, and should be treated holistically.
Any of the previously mentioned oils can be great treatments for bulimia, but the citrus oils are the best oils for this condition because of their appetite regulating properties. Oftentimes, if a person can curb his/her appetite, the need to binge can be eliminated for a time.
For these treatments, it’s helpful to combine a mixture of grapefruit, bergamot, lemon and orange in a small glass bottle. Keep on hand and take a whiff whenever the urge to indulge hits you.
Overeating is the most common and most accepted eating disorder in the spectrum, but can also stem from deeper psychological issues. When people overeat, they are usually trying to compensate for something that is lacking in their own lives – love, control, self-esteem, courage, etc. It can also be brought on by anxiety, blood sugar imbalance, hormonal imbalance and depression.
To treat overeating disorders with essential oils, any of the previously mentioned oils can be used, depending on what your specific underlying issues are.
Especially effective for overeating is cinnamon, clary sage, grapefruit, lemon, orange, bergamot and mandarin. For severe disorders, try diffusing a combination of 2 or 3 of these oils for at least 15 minutes every hour throughout the day, or when cravings are the worst.
The most important thing to do when facing any type of eating disorder is to seek immediate treatment, especially when the disorder has become or is becoming chronic. Discover the underlying causes of your condition and work together with your doctor to effectively address them.
Use essential oils as a supplemental treatment to therapy for enhanced healing and faster recovery. And never overlook the warning signs in your children that there may be cause for concern.