Eating Disorders

Acupuncture in Eating Disorder Recovery

Acupuncture in Eating Disorder Recovery | Libero Magazine
Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine that has been practiced for centuries. The theory behind acupuncture is that illness, whether physical or mental, stems from a blockage or imbalance of energy in the body.

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When entering treatment for an eating disorder, it is important to keep an open mind and be willing to think outside the box. While there are evidence-based treatments for eating disorders that have been proven effective, too often people forget that each person an eating disorder has a unique experience that often requires individualized approaches to recovery.

I have found that nutritional counselling and therapy, while paramount to my recovery, are not the only treatments that have an influence on my recovery. In the summer of 2012, I decided to give acupuncture a shot, and I am so glad I did.

Much of eating disorder recovery is based on the principle of the mind-body connection,

and the belief that you cannot heal the mind without also healing the body. This can be achieved in a multitude of ways, but my route was acupuncture.

Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine that has been practiced for centuries. The theory behind acupuncture is that illness, whether physical or mental, stems from a blockage or imbalance of energy in the body. (Acupuncture Referral Service).

During acupuncture, very fine needles are inserted into the skin to stimulate specific anatomic points in the body (acupuncture points), in order to restore the movement of energy (qi) throughout the body. (Acupuncture Referral Service). When done correctly by a trained, professional acupuncturist, this does not cause pain.

Clinical evidence on the effectiveness of acupuncture for various conditions is mixed and controversial.

According to the American Cancer Society, however, there is scientific support for the use of acupuncture in treating nausea/vomiting and headaches that can occur as side effects of chemotherapy.

My eating disorder has wreaked havoc on my digestive system, and one of the few techniques that has seemed to work for me is acupuncture.

While therapy has helped me work on my distorted thinking about food, and nutrition therapy has taught me to nourish my body, acupuncture has helped reduce my digestive discomfort related to refeeding.

I have also found relief for anxiety.

Acupuncture in Eating Disorder Recovery | Libero Magazine

I cannot say whether the impact of acupuncture on my anxiety is due to balancing my energy as suggested by Chinese Medicine, endorphins from the needles, or if it simply a placebo effect.

No matter why or how it works, all I know is I leave acupuncture feeling more relaxed and at peace. I know many other people who feel the same way. The digestive aid and reduction in anxiety has given me the strength to continue with recovery when I feel exhausted and am tempted to give up.

Whether or not you want to give acupuncture a try, I recommend keeping an open mind when working towards recovery from your eating disorder.

This is a complex illness, and sometimes you need to go back to the drawing board and be willing to try new approaches as a supplement to traditional treatment.

I am a skeptic and I tend to be stubborn and stuck in my ways, but I am so glad that I took a chance on acupuncture and various other treatment modalities, other than traditional talk therapy, that have proved effective for me, such as drama therapy and art therapy. Never give up on yourself if one particular treatment isn’t working for you.

There is no one-size-fits-all method of recovering from an eating disorder. You are unique, and your recovery will be unique too. I believe in you, and I hope you believe in yourself.

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Works Cited:

Acupuncture Referral Service. “Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Basics”. <>.

American Cancer Society. Acupuncture.

Jessica has a B.A. in Psychology and Women's Studies and is pursuing a graduate degree in Clinical Psychology. She is passionate about social justice and hopes to make a difference in the lives of others and advocate for social change. Having recovered from an eating disorder, Jessica is committed to spreading the word that freedom from eating disorders is possible. Through her writing at Libero, Jessica hopes to empower those struggling with eating disorders to fight for the health and happiness that they deserve.

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