Genuine Help For Eating Disorder sufferers and caregivers.On this site you will learn how to beat your eating disorder with the power of neuroplasticity and awareness therapy.
What is neuroplasticity?
Neuroplasticity is the natural ability of the brain to change its own structure in response to new situations, new behaviours or changes of the environment. Neuroplastic changes occur in a few different ways: by changing the neuronal connections, by sprouting new nerve endings and even by growing new neurons.
Neuro is for neuron, the nerve cells in our brains. Plastic is for “changeable, malleable, modifiable.” Without operations or medications you can make use of the brain’s amazing ability to change and transform your life in the direction you want. This ability can help you stop bad habits, change your feelings and cure many diseases including the most insidious ones like eating disorders.
For the past four hundred years this new thinking was inconceivable because mainstream medicine and science believed that brain anatomy was fixed. The conventional knowledge was that after infancy the brain can’t really change itself and was fully developed, only at old age when the brain starts the long process of decline was it believed to change.
This theory of the unchanging brain put people with mental and emotional problems under a lot of limitations. It basically meant that if you had a problem like an eating disorder, you more or less have to suffer for a life of taking drugs and being sick.
This kind of thinking made people believe that real treatments for mental disorders are always biological and involve drugs and that psychological (talk) therapy is not biological and just merely talk, so would not work.
But now, we have important data from psychoanalytical therapies and neuroscience that shows that when patients come in with their brains in certain states of miss wiring (mental states) then after undertaking psychological (neuroplastic) interventions their brains can be rewired without drugs or surgeries. This proves that neuroplastic therapy is every bit as biological as the use of drugs and even more precise at times because it is targeted.
To prove this fact American psychiatrist Dr Jeffrey M. Schwartz (UCLA School of Medicine) did some amazing research on his patients who suffered different form s of obsessions and compulsions. His patients went through neuroplastic treatment called “Four Step Self-Treatment Method”.
Before and after the treatment his patients had a PET scan of their brain. The PET scan showed that after neuroplastic treatment there was reduced activity in brain’s caudate nucleus (the centre of the brain which gets overactive with patients with obsessions).
Obsessions and compulsions are the main components of eating disorders but in relation to food.
So, this research showed that neuroplastic therapy can biologically change the structure of the brain and help people to be free from their obsessions without drugs.
To understand how neuroplastic change occurs read the article “Structure of neuron and neuronal connections (pathways)”.
Dr Irina Webster.
If you really want to understand how the processes of neuroplasticity occur you need to start your learning process by looking at the structure of a basic neuron and how they connect to each other. To understand basic principles of neuroplasticity you need to know that neuron has:- A body which contain a nucleus
-Many endings – dendrites
- One bigger endings – axon
Axon is a very important structure for a signal transmission. It has a myelin sheath to make the transmission of a signal easier. The end of axon (axon terminals) connects to the dendrites of other neurons and through this connection signals go from one neuron to another.
When we think, feel, imagine or dream, all these processes happen because our neurons connect to other neurons in a certain way forming neuronal pathways. Connection between neurons occur in synapses (see picture below) where the axon of one neuron connects to the endings (dendrites) of the other neuron. And the process goes on forming pathways.
So, a neuronal pathway is basically a chain of neurons connected in a certain way. For every behavior, habit, or action we have a certain neuronal pathway. Regular thoughts and feelings also have special neuronal pathways in the brain.
When neurons connect in synapses, the production and release of special chemicals occur. These chemical are called neurotransmitters. That’s why a signal transmission in the brain is called an electro-chemical transmission. These chemicals (neurotransmitters) play a huge role in our emotions, feelings and mental states.
Faults in these chemical transmissions can result in different mental-emotional problems including anorexia and bulimia in susceptible individuals.
Dr Ian Frampton one of the authors, who is an honorary consultant in pediatric psychology at London’s Great Ormond Street hospital conducted in-depth neuropsychological testing on more than 200 people in the UK, USA and Norway who suffered from anorexia. Dr Frampton and his team found that at least 70% of anorexic patients had suffered damage to their neurotransmitters, which help brain cells communicate with each other.
Luckily, with the help of neuroplasticity we can now influence even produce new neurotransmitters in our brains around the old defective ones.
Dr Irina Webster MD.