The psychedelic therapy to treat anorexia

The most well-known eating disorder is anorexia nervosa. It normally occurs in puberty or early adulthood, and it affects more women than men. Even if they are dangerously underweight, people with anorexia classify themselves as overweight. They prefer to keep a close eye on their weight, avoid certain foods, and severely limit their calorie intake.

Symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder are often common. Many people with anorexia, for example, are preoccupied with food all of the time, and some may obsessively collect recipes. These people may also have a hard time eating in public and have a strong need to monitor their surroundings, which restricts their ability to be spontaneous.

Anorexia is officially categorized into two subtypes: the restricting type and the binge eating — purging type.

Dieting, fasting, or excessive exercise are the ways for people with the restricting disorder type to lose weight. People who have binge eating and purging type, may eat a lot of food or eat very little. In both cases, they “detox” after eating by vomiting, taking laxatives or diuretics or engaging in excessive exercise. Anorexia can be particularly dangerous to one’s health. Individuals with it can experience bone thinning, infertility, brittle hair and nails, and the development of a fine hair layer all over their body over time.

In worst cases, anorexia can result in heart, brain, or multi-organ failure or even death.

Despite the fact that anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder, available pharmacological therapies are largely unsuccessful, owing to a lack of understanding of the neurobiological drivers that underpin the condition. The eating disorder might be linked to serotonergic signaling and cognitive inflexibility.

The potential for classical psychedelics, such as psilocybin, to relieve symptoms of anorexia nervosa has been demonstrated by a recent revival of research into the clinical uses of psychedelic medicine for a number of mental disorders.

  • Purging to control weight
  • Obsession with food, calories and diets
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Changes in mood (people with diagnosis often have symptoms of other disorders)
  • Distorted body image
  • Excessive exercise
  • Denial of hunger and avoidance of eating
  • Engagement in food rituals
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Number of physical symptoms, associated with the decaying body, such as: dry and yellowish skin, thinning of bones, muscle loss, etc.
Possible causes

Anorexia nervosa is characterized by concerns about body weight and shape, but they may not be the primary cause. Experts aren’t sure why the disorder develops, but genetic, environmental, biological, and other factors could all play a part.

These are the factors that can increase a person’s risk:

  • Criticism of their eating habits, weight, or body form
  • History of being bullied or teased, especially regarding weight or body shape
  • Low self-esteem
  • A sense of pressure from society or their occupation to be thin
  • Possessing a personality susceptible to obsession or perfectionism
  • Sexual violence
  • A history of dieting pressure to conform to societal values

A person’s risk of having an eating disorder is also increased if:

  • They have type 1 diabetes
  • Have a close relative that has had a similar illness.
  • There is a family history of depression or other mental health problems.

Researchers discovered in 2015 that people with anorexia nervosa have different gut microbial populations than those who do not have the disorder. This could lead to increased anxiety, depression, and weight loss.


A healthcare professional will create a personalized plan to meet the individual’s unique requirements.
It can include a group of specialists who can assist the individual in overcoming physical, mental, social, and psychological obstacles.
Among the strategies are:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which can help the person find new ways of thinking, behaving, and managing stress
  • Family and individual counseling, as appropriate nutritional therapy, which provides information on how to use food to build and maintain health
  • Medication to help treating depression and anxiety
  • Supplements to resolve nutritional deficiencies
  • In some cases, hospital treatment
Current status of psychedelics in the anorexia intervention

There are currently no systematic reviews of treatment models involving psychedelic administration, and psychedelic treatment research is still in its early stages.

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