Anorexia nervosa is an emotional disorder. Although many think of it as an
obsession with food and body weight, the eating disorder is really an outward
sign of emotional turmoil—and addressing these
emotional needs is at the heart of any treatment plan. Medical attention is also
required, as this disorder takes a large physical toll, and, without proper
medical care, can even be fatal. The following herbal therapies can provide some
support for the emotional and physical needs of a person coping with anorexia.
Be sure to seek physician guidance before starting herbal therapy.
Condurango (Marsdenia condurango): Helps to stimulate appetite
and aids digestion.
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum): Helps to stimulate
appetite and aids digestion.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis): Aids digestion.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis): Helps to stimulate the
appetite, soothes digestive spasms, and works as a mild sedative. Lemon balm may
also help regulate thyroid-stimulating hormones and help the thyroid to function
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra): Helps to soothe digestive spasms
and heals a damaged digestive track. Also reduces mild depression. Note:
Licorice should not be taken by people who have high blood pressure.
Oat straw (Avena sativa): Helps to restore the nervous system
to normal functioning and soothes the digestive track. Also helps to reduce
depression. This herb may take a while to start working but its effects are long
Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens, S. serrulatta, S. serullatum):
Helps to restore and maintain the digestive track's normal functioning.
Siberian ginseng (Eleuthrocuccus senticosus): Helps to improve
overall body strength and endurance.
St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum): Helps to restore the
nervous system to healthy functioning. Also helps to reduce anxiety and mild to
moderate depression. Note: St. John's wort should not be taken at the same time
as conventional antidepressant medications.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis): Helps to stimulate appetite,
soothes digestive spasms, and works as a mild sedative.
Wild yam (Dioscorea villosa): Soothes digestive spasms and
helps to reduce depression.
Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas) or tinctures
(alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, teas should be made with 1
teaspoon herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or
flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 to 4 cups per day. Tinctures
are preparations made from alcohol (or water and alcohol), containing an herb
strength of 1 part herb to 5 parts solvent or 1 part herb to 10 parts solvent.