Massage therapy benefits people who suffer from eating disorders, including bulimia and anorexia. New research shows that 10 to 15 percent of North American females have maladaptive eating behaviors and attitudes. The new study is from the Université de Montréal and the Douglas Mental Health University Institute, and is published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

“Our results are disquieting,” says Lise Gauvin, a professor at the Université de Montréal Department of Social and Preventive Medicine. “Women are exposed to many contradictory messages. They are encouraged to lose weight yet also encouraged to eat for the simple pleasure of it.”

Previously, research by the Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami School of Medicine showed that massaged bulimic patients experienced immediate reductions in anxiety and depression, and improvement on several other psychological and behavioral measures. Another TRI study showed that symptoms of anorexia nervosa were reduced by massage.

Many eating-disorder treatment facilities are aware of the benefits of massage and other complementary therapies, and make them available to their patients. At Sierra Tucson, one of the top treatment facilities, for example, patients may receive massage, chiropractic, reiki, qi gong, acupuncture, shiatsu and Zero Balancing as aspects of treatment that focuses on mind-body-spirit healing.

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