Bulimia Patients Can be Cured by 'Re-Tuning' the Brain

Bulimia patients can now be cured for up to a year by simply re-tuning the brain, according to a recent study.

The treatment called repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation is also being used to treat depression and will make use of magnets to turn up a part of the brain that is directly involved in self-control. It involves placing a magnetic coil on the scalp and using it to help stimulate the brain's electrical circuits.

Patients who have longstanding bulimia remained symptom-free for up to a year after they were treated. All of these patients have tried other types of remedies that didn't work which include conventional options like pills and psychotherapy.

Researchers from the University of Toronto said "the brain-boosting treatment which is already used to treat depression could be a valuable new weapon in the fight against anorexia and bulimia. "Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia affect more than eight women in North America," Dr. Jonathan Downar, a psychiatrist told the Society for Neuroscience's annual conference. "They can also be deadly since up to one in five people with anorexia die prematurely from medical complications. Our existing treatments are ineffective for many patients. New, more effective treatments are urgently needed," he added.

Patients involved in the study who were treated, regularly binged and purged. Some of them had bulimia while others had a form of anorexia. Almost half of the participants saw a marked improvement in their symptoms. In most of the cases, participants spent three to six months binge-free and purge-free, while other remained treated for up to a year. "For patients with eating disorders who are not doing well with medication and therapy, it might be worth discussing the option of rTMS with the treating psychiatrist or general practitioner," Dr. Downar said.

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