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Vagal Nerve Stimulation to Treat Bulimia?

By November 20, 2012

I recently heard about Vagal Nerve Stimulation (VNS) which is usually used for epilepsy, now being used to treat those with bulimia. Is such a procedure actually helpful? – anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

From the standpoint of this technique being helpful, the answer is probably yes because the habituation of purging is a physical response that cannot often be eliminated by sheer will power. However, there are other hormonal contributions to the purging process that are not vagal and this technique, though successful initially, may over time prove to be masking the other somatic pathways.

It perhaps parallels gastric bypass intervention and tube feeding anorectics. That is, if the cause is not appropriately addressed, will long term recovery and or maintenance take place? The psychotherapy intervention may be lessened as a result of accelerating the physical intervention. This is always an issue, but usually the technical interventions override the mindful intervention which ultimately is of paramount importance in the course of the disease process.

So, ultimately, a comprehensive program might gain some advantage from this technique, but it has the potential to short circuit long term recovery if the cause of the disease itself is not addressed.

Warmest regards,

Ralph