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Keywords:

  • herbs;
  • weight loss;
  • diuretic;
  • eating disorders;
  • anorexia nervosa;
  • bulimia nervosa;
  • binge eating disorder;
  • adverse reactions

Abstract

Objective

This article explores the frequencies of use of alternative medications, available products, and their potential toxicities.

Method

Survey data were gathered from 39 consecutive patients diagnosed with bulimia nervosa who were seeking treatment. A survey of area outlets (health food stores, pharmacies, grocery stores) was conducted to establish a database of available agents. Putative active ingredients were identified. MEDLINE literature searches, as well as reviews of specialized texts, were performed to identify the potential toxicities of the ingredients.

Results

Diet pill use was found in 64% of patients; 18 % reported use in the past month. The survey identified 167 products. Diuretic use was found in 31% of patients; 21% reported use in the past month. Twenty-five diuretic products were identified.

Discussion

Alternative medicines are frequently used in the population of patients seeking treatment for bulimia nervosa. An abundance of products are available with potentially significant toxicities. © 2003 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 33: 443–457, 2003.