Appetite is the emotional expression of the needs and inclinations of the human and his body to certain foods. Loss of appetite is when a person has no desire to eat.
In medicine, there are concepts: hunger and appetite. These are different things! Hunger is a reflex that occurs when there is no food intake. The hunger center in the brain sends a signal, it is located in the cerebral cortex and subcortical structures. Low blood glucose and other nutrients provoke the feeling of hunger. Signs of hunger are saliva, heightened sense of smell, “empty stomach”. Appetite is another manifestation of hunger that occurs according to food preferences, emotional conditions, religious and national habits, night or day plays an important role as well.
Changes in appetite are following:
- The overall appetite is decreased (no desire to eat anything).
- Changes in taste preferences.
- Complete loss of appetite (anorexia).
What causes loss of appetite?
Several appetite loss causes can be distinguished.
- Intoxication as a result of inflammation or poisoning. In this case, during the bouts of a disease or poisoning, the body is no able to digest food, it tries to get rid of toxins.
- Pain, discomfort, an exacerbation of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.
- Endocrine disorders along with dysfunction of the thyroid gland, the hypophysis, the hypothalamus (the subcortical structures of the brain).
- Metabolic disorders (cancer).
- Mental disorders (depression).
What are diseases characterized by loss of appetite?
- Addison disease (Bronze disease)
- Still’s disease (Chronic arthritis in children)
- Still-Chauffard disease (Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis)
- Typhoid fever
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Depression and stress during holidays
- Peptic ulcer (Stomach and Duodenal Ulcers)
- Seasonal affective disorder
Let’s consider mental disorders, such as depression.
Depression is one of widespread disease of mental disorders. One of the major symptoms of this disease is changes in appetite, decreased or increased. Loss of appetite in depression has a slightly different manifestation than in other diseases. Food is seemed tasteless, unprepared, sometimes even the smell of food, or mentioning it is accompanied by a negative reaction, it can cause nausea and even vomit. Eating is not a pleasure anymore, patients eat only because they have to, and sometimes it is necessary to force people to eat. Deterioration of appetite in depression is accompanied by the feeling of overeating, even small portions of food lead to this feeling and nausea. “Anorexia Nervosa” takes a special place among mental disorders.
In most cases, this disease affects young girls. The basic of this disease is a pathological desire to lose weight by any means, even if there is a normal or low body weight. Because of constant eating problems patients can not overcome this condition on their own. It requires seeing the therapist and hospitalization in the most serious cases. Relatives play an important role in the early diagnosis of the disease. In addition to restricting food intake exhausting physical exercises, intake of various drugs for weight loss, use of enemas, induction of vomit after consuming food usually take place. Finally, weight loss is observed.
In such cases, family members play an important role. You should convince a person suffering from depression or anorexia to seek professional help of a psychotherapist.
Natural remedies to increase appetite
Herbs are used in addition to traditional treatment of decreased appetite.
Herbs that are used in order to increase appetite are discussed below:
Indian gooseberry is very effective when we deal with the loss of appetite caused by gastrointestinal issues. It works as a tonic in the GI system, boosting the functioning of the digestive tract and detoxifying the liver. In combination with honey, it also reduces nausea and vomiting.
Moreover, being rich in vitamin C, it improves the immune system and facilitates mineral absorption, both of which are important if nutritional deficiencies have resulted from the lack of proper nourishment.
Ginger is perfect for relieving indigestion and increasing appetite. In addition, ginger is a good choice for getting rid of stomach aches.
Black pepper is often used as an Ayurvedic remedy to boost digestion, stimulate appetite, and treat gastrointestinal issues. It also relieves stomach and intestinal gas.
Basically, black pepper stimulates the taste buds, which in turn increases the secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, thereby improving digestion. Furthermore, it contains a compound called piperine that aids absorption of nutrients including selenium, beta-carotene, and vitamin B.
Do not use this black pepper remedy if you have stomach ulcers or have had abdominal surgery.
Cardamom is considered a warming digestive tonic. It is suitable for relieving indigestion, flatulence and acidity, and stimulating appetite. You should simply add ground cardamom seeds or cardamom pods to your regular tea if you want this remedy to be beneficial.
Carom seeds are perfect for the digestive system. They help improve appetite and treat problems like indigestion and flatulence by boosting the secretion of digestive acids and enzymes.
Dandelion root is known to boost digestion and stimulate appetite. It also helps cure liver and get rid of gallbladder issues. It works as a mild diuretic as well.
You can buy dandelion root from a health food store. If you have dandelions growing in your yard, you can separate the roots from the foliage, clean and chop them into small pieces, and bake them in the oven at 250 degrees for two hours.
Before using this herb, see your doctor to define the right dose and make sure it will not interact with any medications you may be taking.
Garlic is believe one of the most effective home remedies for dealing with the loss of appetite as it stimulates the digestive system.
Coriander juice is used for boosting your appetite as it helps in the secretion of gastric juices. It is also perfect for treating indigestion, gas, nausea, colitis and other such ailments.
Tamarind is also effective when we deal with the loss of appetite and has carminative and laxative effects. However, avoid the variety of tamarind known as Malabar, which tends to suppress appetite.
Alfalfa helps stimulating appetite plus it is considered natural blood and liver cleanser. Being a diuretic, it is also beneficial for those coping with kidney problems. Alfalfa is rather good for overall health, being rich in vitamins A, B, C, D, and K, as well as calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, folic acid, and other nutrients.
You should not consume large doses of this herb, though. It is always better to see your doctor before using this herb as a remedy because it is not suitable for those suffering from autoimmune disease, gout, and certain other conditions.
Besides these home remedies, some simple yet effective measures can help improve your appetite like eating small but frequent meals, opting for your favorite foods and engaging in moderate physical exercise. If the problem persists, consult your doctor for proper evaluation and treatment.
Techniques of acupressure are used to improve appetite as well.
What doctors you should see if you experience loss of appetite.
It depends on other symptoms: