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Appetite Disorders

Appetite Disorders


Anorexia and obesity are well known conditions. However, they represent extremes of a continuum, the mid-portion of which may be unrecognized and, therefore, go untreated and, possibly, deteriorate into one of these extreme conditions, after all.

Moreover, a poor appetite may also represent an underlying disorder. Drug abuse (like alcoholism, tobacco or other drugs, even coffee) and emotional factors (e.g. depression) are common examples.


Heavy metal poisoning may be responsible.

Most commonly, dependence upon stimulants, in place of nutritious foods, will provoke multiple nutritional deficiencies, producing an intensification of the problems.

It is also difficult to separate cause and effect in advanced cases: a missed meal could be replaced by coffee, which could take you past the next mealtime, making you tired, irritable, easily depressed and so on. The cycle takes a stronger hold on the victim and nutrient depletion makes it more difficult for them to function normally and so it goes...

Signs & Symptoms

A poor appetite must not be confused with being on a diet. Nor is it anorexia or bulimia, whereby the person goes to extreme lengths to avoid the intake and digestion of any food.

The victim with a poor appetite is most likely to derive no pleasure from any foods: "Nothing tastes good". Meals may be missed altogether, or hardly touched, merely picked at.

There is likely to be gradual weight loss and low energy levels. They may spend inordinate amounts of time sleeping, or watching television. They may be housebound. They have no desire to leave home to do anything. They may not bother to shop for groceries, after all there are no meals worth preparing. Food supplies will be low, or absent.

There may be mood changes.

Nutritional Supplements

Structure & Function:
        Nutrients for Brain Support &
        Multi Vitamin/Multi Mineral Formulas

General Supplements


B complex100 mg b.i.d.
Calcium1,500 mg
Copper3 mg
Iron18 mg
Magnesium750 mg
Multivitamin1 hi-potency
Vitamin A25,000 iu
Zinc50 - 100 mg

Note: All amounts are in addition to those supplements having a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). Due to individual needs, one must always be aware of a possible undetermined effect when taking nutritional supplements. If any disturbances from the use of a particular supplement should occur, stop its use immediately and seek the care of a qualified health care professional.


Bee pollen is an approved herb by the German Commisssion E for loss of appetite.


Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Dietary Considerations

Nutrient density is important. What little may be eaten, should contain as much nutrition as possible. Thus, cream soups would be preferred.

There may well be an underlying imbalance of the gut flora, so that "friendly" bacteria need to be supplemented (acidophilus, bifidus).

Beverages immediately before, or during meals could be destructive, reducing the absorption of nutrients from the food (by lowering the acidity of gastric juices) and, as the old saying goes: "spoiling your appetite" by providing a feeling of fullness.

Small, frequent snacks may be more appealing than sitting down to a large, multi-course dinner.

The smell and texture of the food may take on an exaggerated significance, so every effort should be made to select according to the preferences of the victim.

Several of the herbs which stimulate appetite (and energy) also occur in foods and beverages, so these might make good choices as well: root beer, mint sauce, herbal food bars and snacks etc.

Smoking decreases the appetite and may also detract from the appeal of a meal.

Mild exercise can stimulate the appetite, although in a weakened condition, this may need to be extremely mild, otherwise it may be too fatiguing and counter-productive, instead.

Homeopathic Remedy

Constant, with loss of appetiteArsenicum Album
Sweets, in spite of indigestionLycopodium Clavatum
Hungry one moment, no appetite the nextFerrum phosphoricum
Excessive appetite:
Always feel empty, even after mealCalcarea carbonica
Always hungry, even at night but easily satiatedLycopodium Clavatum
Loss of appetite:
Aversion to food (in spite of sleeplessness)Ignatia
Food lies in stomach, painful to touchBryonia alba tinct.

Treatment Schedule

Over-the-counter homeopathic remedies may be single strength (of fairly weak potency e.g. 6X ) or a blend of several weaker strengths (6X, 8X, 10X).

This may comprise a single remedy, or several remedies.

Doses are administered on a 3 times daily (tid), between meals,schedule and continued for 3 days.

Liquid preparations usually use 8-10 drops per dose.

Solid preparations are usually 2 or 3 pellets per dose.

Children use 1/2 dose i.e. 1 pellet.

If there is aggravation of the symptoms, stop taking the remedy and consult a homeopath.


Murphy, R. : Homeopathic Medical Repertory. Hahneman Academy, Pagosa Springs, Colorado. 1993.

Murphy, R. : Lotus Materia Medica. Hahneman Academy, Pagosa Springs, Colorado. 1995.

Pert, J.C.: Homeopathy for the Family. The Homoeopathic Development Foundation, London. 1985 edition.

Tissue Salts

Calc. Phos.Loss of appetite with indigestion;
Ferr. Phos.Loss of appetite with fever;
Kali Phos.Ravenous appetite following fever, still hungry after eating;
Nat. Phos.Loss of appetite with acidosis (heartburn);

Herbal Approaches


Angelica root
Bee pollen
Saw palmetto berries

Note: The misdirected use of an herb can produce severely adverse effects, especially in combination with prescription drugs. This Herbal information is for educational purposes and is not intended as a replacement for medical advice.


A number of herbs have stimulant properties, which can apply to appetite, as well as energy levels. Stimulating energy levels might be important in order to maintain activity in spite of a calorie deficit diet.

Angelica root is approved in Germany for loss of appetite.

Bee pollen is an approved herb by the German Commisssion E for loss of appetite.

Ginseng is probably the best known, although it is powerful and can affect blood pressure levels, so hypertension would be a contra-indication to using this herb.

Other appetite stimulants include: catnip, fennel seed, ginger root, papaya leaves, peppermint leaves and saw palmetto berries.

Several of these herbs also occur in foods and beverages, so these might make good choices as well: root beer, mint sauce etc.

If the problem appears to be a sugar disorder i.e. always craving sweet foods, having low blood sugar otherwise, Gymnema and Licorice may help.


Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Aromatherapy - Essential Oils

Bergamot Essence,Chamomile Essence,
Fennel Essence,Peppermint Essence.

Related Health Conditions




Balch, J.F. & Balch, P.A.: Prescription for Nutritional Healing. Second Edition. Avery, New York. 1996.

Fornari VM et al., Seasonal patterns in eating disorder subgroups. Compr Psychiatry, 1994 Nov-Dec, 35:6, 450-6.

French SA et al., Ethnic differences in psychosocial and health behavior correlates of dieting, purging, and binge eating in a population-based sample of adolescent females. Int J Eat Disord, 1997 Nov, 22:3, 315-22.

Herzog-H: Neuropeptide-Y Y1 receptor gene polymorphism: cross-sectional analyses in essential hypertension and obesity. Biochem-Biophys-Res-Commun. 1993 Oct 29; 196(2): 902-6.

Kazes M et al., Eating behaviour and depression before and after antidepressant treatment: a prospective, naturalistic study. J Affect Disord, 1994 Mar, 30:3, 193-207.

Low BL Eating disorders. Singapore Med J, 1994 Dec, 35:6, 631-4.

Murnen SK & Smolak L: Femininity, masculinity, and disordered eating: a meta-analytic review. Int J Eat Disord, 1997 Nov, 22:3, 231-42.

Schulken ED et al., Sorority women's body size perceptions and their weight-related attitudes and behaviors. J Am Coll Health, 1997 Sep, 46:2, 69-74.

Soykan I et al., The rumination syndrome: clinical and manometric profile, therapy, and long-term outcome. Dig Dis Sci, 1997 Sep, 42:9, 1866-72.

Weinstein SE et al., Changes in food intake in response to stress in men and women: psychological factors. Appetite, 1997 Feb, 28:1, 7-18.


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