Loss of appetite is a state of mind in which you will find no interest in eating and would be more inclined to avoid taking food. What are the reasons behind the loss of appetite and how it will be treated?
Loss of appetite is a symptom of disturbed digestion and may be a sign of a significant underlying medical problem. Most people have experienced a temporary loss of appetite at some time in their life but this is rarely a worrisome symptom unless it lasts for more than a day or two. In children, loss of appetite can be a dangerous condition as it indicates some serious forthcoming diseases. Loss of appetite, poor appetite or lack of appetite may be due to a physical condition or disorder. It may also be related to a mental, emotional, or spiritual contributing factor. Commonly, a loss of appetite takes place during a sudden illness, such as an infection. Risk of malnutrition is increased when a loss of appetite continues for a long time.
In medical term, loss of appetite is referred as anorexia. Loss of appetite in a person can be a sign of a serious underlying condition, such as depression or cancer. Depression is very common condition following heart attacks or heart surgery and it significantly increases mortality. Loss of appetite is also common in emotional distress, prolonged illness, intake of some medicines and bad eating habits. In growing children, who need to have a good appetite for their proper mental and physical development, a loss of appetite poses a serious threat. As a vital problem, Loss of appetite may obstruct the proper functioning of immune system and famished your body of the necessary nutrients and vitamins. Being natural and safe, some herbal remedies can be of great help to treat loss of appetite.
Reasons for loss of appetite:
There are many reasons of for loss of appetite. Some general reasons are:
Depression may be one of the reasons for loss of appetite as it changes the normal levels of neurotransmitters in brain that trigger hunger.
Nasal congestion can be take place from allergies, sinus infections or the common cold. It may cause temporarily loss of sense of smell and so appetite.
Respiratory infections for example influenza and acute sinusitis can cause loss of appetite for several weeks and may result in weight loss.
Some medications which are used for treating migraines, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety and cancer may cause loss of appetite and nausea.
A person even forgets to eat especially during stressful events. Emotional stress at home or from work may cause loss of appetite.
Contaminated food or water may be the reason for gastroenteritis, a disease of digestive tract. Gastroenteritis can cause loss of appetite, watery diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal cramps.
Pregnant women may lose their appetite during the early weeks of pregnancy, especially for certain types of foods that may harm you or your baby, such as caffeine and deli meats.
Other reasons for loss of appetite include viral or bacterial infections, constipation, biochemical imbalances in the blood, inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic Lupus Erythematosus, and mechanical causes such as badly fitting dentures or oral dysphagia.
Symptoms of loss of appetite:
- Unintended weight loss
- Difficulty in concentrating
Treatment for loss of appetite:
- For restoring a lost appetite, lime is a valuable remedy. A preparation made from this fruit and ginger has been found very effective in overcoming this condition.
- Garlic has a special property to stimulate the digestive tone of the system and improve appetite. A soup prepared from garlic can be of immense help to a patient suffering from anorexia.
- For half an hour before meals, apply an ice-bag over the stomach. Also, a cool hip bath once or twice daily will go a long way in curing anorexia.
- Ginger is a valuable in the loss of appetite. About five grams of this vegetable should be ground and licked with a little salt once a day for the treatment of this condition.
- Apples are useful fruit in anorexia. They help digestion by stimulating the flow of pepsin, a protein digesting enzyme, in the stomach. The old adage, ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’, is certainly a valuable one.
- Sour grapes are another effective remedy for anorexia.
- A paste of spoonful gooseberry powder, honey and butter taken before meals promotes appetite.
- Cardamom, coriander seeds, cinnamon bark and fennel seeds mixed in equal proportion can be soaked in cold water overnight. The mixture can be blended with a tea strainer. Drinking the cold mixture early in the morning increases the appetite.
- Pomegranate juice is also helpful to treat anorexia. Use pomegranate juice with addition of salt and honey.
- Dietary tips to manage loss of appetite:
- Avoid liquids with meals to decrease problems of early satiety.
- Avoid strong aromas if you find them bothersome.
- Intake food when you are hungry. A microwave oven often helps.
- If you want to take only little food, then it should ideally be high in protein and calories. Avoid empty calories (i.e. foods without protein and nutrients).
- Consume small meals every one to two hours or time meals corresponding to when you feel best (typically early in the day).
- Take medications with high-calories fluids, i.e. commercial liquid supplements unless medication necessitates an empty stomach.
- Add extra calories and protein to foods with the use of butter, skim milk powder, commercially prepared protein powder, honey, or brown sugar.
- Promote eating with friends or family members; a meal in a social setting may help the patient to eat.
- Stimulate appetite with light exercise.
- Treat any underlying cause and, if a particular drug appears to be the cause, modify drug regimen.
- A small alcoholic drink may help unless contraindicated.
- Treat yourself to your favorite foods.
Herbal remedies to stimulate appetite:
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is an important appetite stimulant used in various herbal remedies traditionally in Indian and Chinese medicines. This nourishing herb can help stimulate the appetite as well as clean out the system due to their fiber content. Take a tablespoon of fresh juice before breakfast and lunch. It helps in restoration of the minerals and vitamins that the body has lost.
Angelica root (Angelica archangelica) has been used as an effective herbal remedy for loss of appetite. It increases the flow of bile and cures indigestion. Daily intake of one teaspoon of the root in the form of tea gives good result.
Chamomile tea is a good appetite stimulant. Boil one teaspoon of fresh chamomile in one cup of water. Strain the liquid after five minutes and the tea is prepared.
Aloe Vera, also known as good remedy for appetite. It promotes appetite by curing bowel disorders, healing the gastric mucosa and neutralizing the excess gastric acids.
Powdered root of Horseradish in the dose of ½ to 1 teaspoonful three times daily will stimulate appetite by secreting gastric juices.
Ginger root is also an effective herbal remedy for loss of appetite. It cures indigestion, nausea, constipation, and morning sickness during pregnancy. Chew bits of ginger sprinkled with a little amount of rock salt and lime juice before meals. This will stimulate your gastric fire. Also tea prepared with ginger, chamomile and brahmi (Bacopa) is a good appetizer.
Gentian (Gentiana lutea), Scullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), and Centaury (Centaurium erythraea) are other herbs which are effective in loss of appetite.