Therapeutic Effect Of Psilocybin In Eating Disorder

Eating disorder

Eating disorders are a group of psychological problems in which an individual becomes obsessively preoccupied with food, body weight or body shape. These disorders may become serious in severe situations and can negatively impact the patient’s well-being. As the illness progresses, patients may face several physical and mental challenges that necessitate psychological assistance. Eating disorders often begin with picky eating and exaggerated sensitivity towards weight and body shape. Patients with these disorders may employ irregular eating habits as a coping mechanism to overcome difficult emotions and situations.

Symptoms of eating disorders

There are different types of eating disorders; each with different symptoms. Nevertheless, all of them concentrate crucially on eating habits and for others on weight. This involvement with eating and weight may derange other areas of life.

Mental and behavioral symptoms of eating disorders are as follows:

  1. Substantial decrease or increase in weight
  2. Anxiety overeating in public
  3. Eating, weight, and calorie OCD
  4. Excuses to avoid eating
  5. Intense stress over weight gain or obesity
  6. Having layered outfits to hide weight and body shape
  7. Intense restriction over food intake and its type and avoiding certain ones
  8. Denying hunger
  9. Constant desire to work out
 

Physical symptoms of eating disorders:

  1. Digestive diseases such as; stomach Ulcer, constipation, and stomachache
  2. Lack of concentration
  3. Vertigo and fainting
  4. Gum infection and dental problems
  5. Inability to tolerate cold weather
  6. Sleeping disorders
  7. Irregular period cycles
  8. Hair, skin, and nail dryness
  9. Fatigue and muscle frailty
  10. Non-healing wounds            
  11. Weak immune system
  12. Dehydration (electrolytes imbalance and in severe cases kidney failure)
  13. Irregular heartbeats (arrhythmia) and heart failure
  14. Bone illnesses Average rate of prevalence in eating disorders

These disorders are more likely to happen among women than men and the risk of infection has a greater chance in adolescence or early adulthood. Its prevalence in women is 1/6% and in men is 0/8%. This illness can occur in individuals of different genders, ages, races, nationalities, or body types.

The etiology of eating disorder

The exact reason behind this disorder is unknown. However, the factors which increase the risks of eating disorder are as follows:

Genetics: People who have first-degree relatives (parents, children, siblings) with eating disorders are more susceptible to being affected, suggesting a possible genetic link. Also, weight gain in childhood or adolescence increases the risk of being infected with this disorder.

Mental and emotional problems: Mental and emotional disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders, or drug abuse are closely related to this disorder.

Dieting: Those with long-term diets and strict rules, are more exposed than others to be affected by this disorder, e.g., the majority of individuals affected by Bulimia Nervosa (consuming a large amount of food in a short period), bound their calorie intake severely which causes the recurrence of the illness and further unhealthy compensatory behavior.

Different variations of eating disorders

Eating disorder becomes acute up to an amount that impacts the physical, psychological, and social functionality of an individual. Eating disorder has lots of types, each of which has its own unique symptoms and diagnostic criteria. This condition is determined by abnormal neural responses to eating.

Different types of eating disorders which we examine in the following are:

Bulimia Nervosa, Bing Eating Disorder, Anorexia Nervosa

BULIMIA NERVOSA

Bulimia nervosa is a serious eating disorder and it is distinguished by episodes of binge eating and Inappropriate compensatory behaviors (ICBs).  These behaviors often include purging through self-induced vomiting to recompense for overeating Individuals affected by this disorder frequently skip regular meals but tend to compensate by overeating in subsequent meals or consuming low-calorie foods and then high-calorie and fatty foods. For the majority of people, Bulimia involves consuming excessive amounts of food in a short period, surpassing what is considered typical for a similar time and situation. It is typically accompanied by a loss of self-control over the cessation of the eating.

The symptoms of BULIMIA include the following:

  1. Consuming large amounts of food in a short period (e.g. every 2 hours)
  2. A Lack of self-control over eating (an inability to either stop or control it)
  3. Unhealthy compensatory behaviors occurring regularly to prevent weight gain, such as fasting, intense workouts, and self-induced vomiting. In this case, the exudation of gastric acid during vomiting can lead to tooth decay.
 

The Other characteristics of Bulimia are as follows:

  1. Abuse of Laxatives, Diuretics, or weight loss supplements.
  2. Experiencing feelings of guilt, shame, and anxiety following food consumption.
  3. Hypersensitivity over body weight and shape.
  4. Hiding the food to stop the temptation.

Individuals affected by Bulimia usually maintain normal weight; however, they are fearful of gaining weight and are preoccupied with their bodies due to distorted perceptions of their weight and physique. Mood swings are common among them, manifesting as agitation, depression, anxiety, shame, or guilt after eating. These individuals have fragile self-esteem, closely tied to their body image, often leading them to isolate themselves from family and friends.

BINGE EATING DISORDERS

Individuals affected by Binge eating disorder have short periods of overeating, during which they consume large amounts of food. They feel a lack of control over their eating and experience feelings of nervousness afterward. However, unlike individuals with other eating disorders (BULEMIA), they don’t engage in compensatory behavior such as vomiting, fasting, excessive exercising, or laxatives to prevent eating. Hence, their periods of overeating can lead to serious complications such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular diseases. It is worth noting that Individuals affected by Bulimia typically maintain a normal weight and fall within a healthy natural BMI range, whereas those with Bing eating disorder usually are overweight.

Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia is one of the most well-known types of eating disorders. Generally, this disorder primarily develops in adolescence or adulthood and it is more prevalent in women than men. Individuals with this disorder typically perceive themselves as overweight, despite maintaining a low weight. They often engage in weight control measures, such as avoiding certain foods and restricting their calorie intake excessively. These people employ strict diets and intense workouts as a means to lose weight.

Current symptoms of Anorexia:

  1. Limited eating patterns.
  2. Fear of weight gain or constant hunger, leading to attempts to prevent it.
  3. Persistent efforts to lose weight
  4. Distorted self-image like denying being underweight
 

However, it is crucial to emphasize that weight alone should not be the sole determining factor for diagnosing a person with Anorexia. The use of BMI as a diagnostic tool for this disorder is no longer effective, as individuals with normal weight or overweight can exhibit symptoms of Anorexia. For instance, individuals with Anorexia may meet the necessary criteria, but despite experiencing excessive weight loss, they may not have low body weight. This condition is often accompanied by obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). For example, those affected by Anorexia are constantly plagued by thoughts about food, and some may even exhibit hoarding behavior related to food. Similar to Bulimia, these individuals may also struggle with eating food in public. Bulimia is classified into two subtypes: binge eating with unhealthy compensatory behavior and the restrictive subtype. In the case of the restrictive subtype, weight loss is only achieved through dieting, fasting, or excessive exercise. On the other hand, people suffering from overeating and inappropriate compensatory behaviors may eat too much and compensate by inducing vomiting. In both cases, after eating, they purge their bodies occupying by vomiting, taking laxatives, diuretics, or excessive exercise.

Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a mental illness that is both costly and deadly, known for its challenging nature in terms of treatment. It is characterized by significant morbidity and mortality, including a high suicide rate and a staggering 18-fold increase in mortality. Despite the severity of this condition, there are currently no established treatments for adult AN that effectively reverse the core symptoms, and no pharmacological interventions have been approved. Consequently, it is estimated that less than half of patients are able to achieve recovery, with relapse rates reaching approximately 50%. Additionally, around 20% of individuals with AN will experience a chronic course of the illness. Unfortunately, there have been limited advancements in the development of innovative treatment strategies, leading to stagnant outcomes over the past few decades and creating a crisis in care. Therefore, there is an urgent need for novel and innovative treatment approaches to enhance treatment engagement and improve outcomes. One potential avenue that holds promise is the utilization of psilocybin therapy, which involves the use of the psychedelic molecule psilocybin.

Eating disorder treatment

In order to diagnose an eating disorder, analyzing the comprehensive medical history of the patient is essential for diagnosing the eating disorder. The doctor will prescribe specific tests to be conducted on the patient. These physical examinations aim to rule out or confirm the presence of other illnesses that could exacerbate the nutritional irregularities. Psychological assessments also play a substantial role in diagnosing an eating disorder. The doctor examines the patient’s eating habits and emotions and ultimately the integration of all medical, psychological, and psychiatric information that leads to an accurate diagnosis.

The effects of treatment on eating disorders can vary depending on the specific disorder, the illness’s intensity, the individual’s response to the treatment, and the chosen therapeutic approach. Generally, the goal of treating an eating disorder is to address physical, psychological, and emotional aspects of an individual’s personality for the treatment to be through. The diagnosis of this disorder is based on symptoms, behaviors, and particular eating habits. Early diagnosis of eating disorders is crucial as it greatly contributes to the success of the treatment and improves the symptoms of the disease. In the early stages of the treatment unhealthy eating patterns can be addressed before they become more severe, leading to improvements in overall health. People can cause rapid and stable recovery from this disease by treating other accompanying diseases such as mood and anxiety disorders. As the disease progresses, there is more fear and anxiety about weight gain, which causes the disease to relapse. Individuals affected by untreated eating disorders have serious complications and may require urgent medical intervention in hospitals or other clinical centers. According to the research, full recovery not only requires changes in eating habits or exercise but also necessitates a shift in attitudes and perspectives.

The role of Serotonin in eating disorders and the challenges of treating Bulimia

According to recent studies, a lack of serotonin leads to the manifestation of eating disorders and therefore, their side effects. Serotonin is a nervous receptor known for its multiple biological, and neurological processes in the brain. This nervous receptor not only controls physiological functions but also plays a pivotal role in regulating emotional states. One of the most significant functions of serotonin is to regulate appetite which is highly relevant to the body’s Hemostasis. The irregular regulation of serotonin levels can cause imbalances and, consequently, create various disorders.

Treating Bulimia is possible to some extent through different methods, yet the process of recuperation is time-consuming and the results may vary for each individual. One may require a team of doctors, nutritionists, and psychotherapists.

The treatment options include:

Psychotherapy: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and other methods concentrate on shifting attitudes and behaviors of individuals and propose strategies to overcome eating disorders. These treatments incorporate various techniques to foster healthy attitudes toward food and enhance patients’ self-image and body shape.

Experts in this therapeutic approach focus on identifying negative patterns and replacing destructive and negative thoughts with positive ones to alter their reactions toward life’s predicaments. CBT, in particular, helps patients replace unhealthy eating patterns with healthier ones, making it effective for appetite disorders such as Binge Eating Disorder. By targeting negative thought patterns in individuals with eating disorders, psychotherapy proves to be an effective method in their healing process.

Nutritional specialist: Working with a nutritional specialist helps individuals to regulate a healthy and suitable diet promoting a balanced lifestyle. Nutritional counseling involves consuming the appropriate amount of food at the right times and learning healthy methods of dieting. Counseling sessions focus on the individual’s relationship with food and promote healthy behavior.

Medication: It is important to understand that medication alone is not sufficient to cure an eating disorder. However, some medications, such as antidepressants and anxiolytics (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), are often associated with symptoms of eating disorders such as binge eating, inducing compulsive vomiting, or preoccupation with food and dieting. These drugs reduce the frequency of binge eating and induce vomiting. Nevertheless, the long-term effectiveness of these drugs in the treatment of eating disorders is unknown. They are also effective in treating anxiety and depression, which are co-morbidities in eating disorders.

Psilocybin and eating disorder

Numerous studies have indicated that psilocybin, found in magic mushrooms, reduces the manifestation of eating disorders by regulating negative thoughts and mental obsessions, thereby improving the condition. Psilocybin acts as an agonist on serotonin receptors particularly (5-HT) HT2C, 5-HT2A, and 5-HT1A. These receptors have an impact on an individual’s feeling of hunger and fullness. Modulating serotonin hormone levels can also be beneficial for individuals with Anorexia and Bulimia. Many of these patients may experience food-related anxiety, depression resulting from excessive food consumption, and also sleep disorders. In addition to its effects on eating disorders, psilocybin has the potential to improve mood and other behavioral habits. Therefore, innovative approaches to treating eating disorders aim at addressing the underlying causes of this illness, rather than just treating symptoms. accomplished Clinical trials involving patients with Anorexia and Bulimia have demonstrated that psilocybin consumption has reduced the severity of eating disorders. Psilocybin creates nerve synapses, treating generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) around food, obsessive behavior, and disturbing thoughts, especially about food. The consumption of psilocybin can have long-lasting effects on behavior and thoughts.

In a clinical trial conducted in San Diego, California, psilocybin was administrated to 10 patients with Anorexia. The results revealed significant improvements in rumination, anxiety, and inappropriate compensatory behavior after one month of psilocybin treatment. Treatment with psilocybin enhances self-confidence helps prevent disease recurrence and can improve an individual’s perception of his body shape and self-esteem.

Conclusion

Many people are concerned about their weight. However, people with neurological disorders are obsessed with eating and their body weight. Anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN) are disorders that are characterized by abnormal patterns related to eating, weight regulation, and disturbances in a person’s attitude and perception toward body weight and shape. Various evidence suggests serotonin (HT-5) pathway disorders as a role in the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of these two diseases. More than half of people with severe anorexia nervosa fail to recover or experience a relapse after a lot of effort. Psilocybin is a promising treatment for eating disorders that improves the patient’s thoughts about food, weight, and body image, leading to lasting recovery and elimination of the disease