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Anorexia and Ecstasy Have the Same Nature

Oct 30, 2007
The mystery of anorexia biochemical cause could be unraveled according a new research of Dr. Valerie Compan of Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Montpellier, France.

The findings of this new study showed that both anorexia and ecstasy reduce people's appetite by stimulating the same receptors in the brain.

These receptors are located in the part of the brain which is responsible for pleasure, addiction and laughter. It also gives us reward pleasure feelings.

Dr Compan tells about her research: "Our data may converge to open the possibility that anorexia can be a reward-relating problem involving neuronal mechanisms."

The research was done only on animals at this stage. They stimulated the receptors in the brains of mice: this led to the mice starting anorexic-like behavior that significantly reduced their appetite.

The researches also noticed that stimulating these receptors make the mice produce the same kind of enzymes in their brains, which are produced as a response to amphetamine and cocaine use in humans.

When these receptors were blocked, the mice appetites increased and the researchers found that the mice were less sensitive to drugs like ecstasy.

This study indicates the possibilities of developing new kinds of drugs which affect this particular part of the brain, by blocking its receptors and reversing the effects anorexia has on the pleasure centers in the brain.

The reaction occurs exactly in the brain reward center nucleus accumbens where the messenger chemical serotonin acts on a type of protein, a receptor called 5-HT4R.

According to Dr Compan and her team, 5-HT4 receptor could represent an important therapeutic target to treat patients suffering from these disorders. But she also noted that much more work need to be done in explaining this possible treatment to sufferers.

She also warned that an eating disorder is a complex problem and not only one biochemical factor gets involved in the development of anorexia. And we also should not underestimate social, environmental and behavioral factors which affect people in the first place.

For example, people start dieting because of social pressure to be thin, or some people (like dancers and actors) have to be thin because of the environment they are in. It is only after people start dieting does their addictive nature set in and anorexia becomes an addiction.

To conclude, this research showed that anorexia and ecstasy addiction have the same biochemical base. And this new research could lead to a possible fix for the biochemical cause of anorexia by developing a new treatment regime for it.

Although this is a good breakthrough in understanding eating disorders and how they play out in the brain; there are other causes involved in developing eating disorders.

These causes are environmental, social and behavioral which still have to be addressed separately. It is normally these causes that lead to an eating disorder in the first place, before the chemical reaction hooks the sufferer into continuing their unhealthy behavior.

Eliminating these causes is possible by changing people attitudes towards body image and beauty. And also it is important to promote a healthy life style with emphasis on internal beauty like improving self-esteem and self-confidence.
About the Author
Dr Irina Webster MD is the Director of Women Health Issues Program. She is a recognized authority in the eating disorders area. She is an author of many books and a public speaker. learn more about eating disorders at http://www.mom-please-help.com
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