What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis means hollow bone, it is a disease in which the bones gradually become weaker and brittle. Osteoporosis is like all degenerative diseases. Osteoporosis generally occurs due to an unhealthy lifestyle, imbalanced diet, lack of physical activity, smoking habits, alcohol, tooth decay, intestinal dysbiosis, and natural toxins that stimulate chronic expression of inflammatory genes and change the immune endocrine balance.
The pathogenesis of osteoporosis is actually the result of complex interactions between genes and harmful environmental factors. Osteoporosis also causes broken hips in men, although not as often as in women.
What Are Causes Of Osteoporosis?
There are many factors that cause low bone mass, typically including older age, nutrient deficiencies due to eating a poor diet, existing health conditions, and others.
The main causes of osteoporosis such as:
- Aging (Age over 50)
- Low vitamin D levels
- Lack of inactivity which requires maintaining bone mass or bone health
- Hormonal changes and imbalances, especially low estrogen levels in women, which is the cause of many menopause symptoms.
- Low levels of testosterone in men can also decrease bone mass and bone health. Women suffer from osteoporosis more than men largely because of a decrease in hormones after menstruation, pregnancy, or puberty.
- History of medical conditions such as autoimmune disorders, pulmonary disease, kidney or liver diseases.
- Long term treatment by some medicines like fertility drugs/hormonal medications, proton pump inhibitors, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, aromatase inhibitors, anti-seizure medications, and steroids like glucocorticoids or corticosteroids
- Excessive amounts of stress and depression
- Nutritional deficiencies, especially in vitamins and minerals that help to build bone such as calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin K.
- Sudden weight loss, and drastic changes in dieting results in severe calorie restriction and malnutrition.
What are the symptoms of osteoporosis?
Symptoms of bone loss do not occur until osteoporosis develops. Symptoms of osteoporosis such as:
- Breaking bones easily.
- Back pain.
- Stooped posture.
- Gradual loss of height.
What is a natural approach to counter osteoporosis?
Natural therapies that help and support the body in the process of self-healing:
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture is an effective therapy and it is used widely in China for the treatment of osteoporosis.
- Melatonin: generally melatonin is used to restore sleep cycles, but melatonin has also been shown to develop healthy bone cell growth.
- Soy: contains isoflavones which are estrogen-like compounds that may help to protect against bone loss and bone weakness.
- Supplements: taking supplements of calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, D, and K may help with osteoporosis. But it is much better to just eat foods that contain these bone-healthy nutrients because they are easily absorbed and utilized by your body.
- Tai Chi: studies have shown that Tai Chi does reduce the risk of falls in seniors, as well as improves muscle strength and coordination, and reduces joint pain and stiffness.
What are the natural medicines for osteoporosis?
There are many natural herbs recommended for osteoporosis. They may be used in cooking or are taken as a supplement in the form of a pill, powder, or tea. Here below is a list of herbs that may improve bone health and work as an alternative treatment for osteoporosis:
- Epimedium brevicornum Maxim: Epimedium brevicornum Maxim is a very popular natural drug that has been traditionally used to treat bone diseases, pregnancy, and gonad dysfunction in Chinese medicine for many years. It could relieve postmenopausal symptoms and inhibit osteoporosis and other bone loss diseases, while few hyperplastic effects on the uterus were found.
- Salvia miltiorrhiza (Red sage): It is a plant used in Chinese herbal medicine that has some correlation to improvements in osteoporosis. The compounds found in red sage are salvianolic acid, tanshinones, and magnesium lithospermate B which may improve bone health.
- Trifolium pratense (Red clover): Red clover is a perennial herb belonging to the legume family. Historically, it has been used as a complementary treatment for menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, as well as a variety of illnesses, including cancer, respiratory problems, skin conditions, and osteoporosis.
- Equisetum arvense (Horsetail): Horsetail is a tree-like perennial plant found commonly in different parts of Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and North America. Horsetail is used to treat wounds, tuberculosis, and kidney issues. Antioxidants found in horsetail are quercetin, oleanolic acid, and ursolic acid. And these compounds may improve calcium levels and increase bone growth to prevent osteoporosis.
- Thymus vulgaris (Thyme): Thyme is an herb in the mint (Lamiaceae) family native to the Mediterranean. This small, low-growing shrub is a popular spice to use in cooking. It also is a medicinal plant that dates back to ancient times. Thyme has been used to enhance immune function and treat respiratory, nerve, and heart conditions.
- Curcuma longa (Turmeric): Turmeric is a yellow perennial root belonging to the ginger family and native to South Asia. It is anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties have made it important to herbal medicine for the past 4,000 years. Turmeric has been used to treat menstrual symptoms, arthritis, and digestive issues. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, may help with low bone density
- Gynochthodes Officinalis: It is a famous natural herb in Chinese medicine, and it contains many bioactive components like oligosaccharides, iridoid glycosides, and bajijiasu Additionally, the components of polysaccharides, monocropping, and bajijiasu could act as potential agents to treat osteoporosis.
- Curculigo orchioides Gaertn: this is generally found in tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, Africa, and South America, and this is one of the Chinese herbs used to relieve the symptoms of limb weakness, lumbar and knee joint arthritis, and diarrhea. It also has antioxidant properties and anticancer potential and may be used as an antiosteoporotic herb. These Chinese herbs are also used for the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis.
- Psoralea corylifolia medik: it is widely used in Asia for medicinal purposes and the dried ripe seeds are the active component of the plant. It is used in China for the treatment of skin diseases, cardiovascular disease, nephritis, and osteoporosis. The bioactive compounds found are coumarins, flavonoids, and meroterpenes. It also has immunoregulatory, antioxidant, and neuroprotective properties for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. And also have therapeutic potential for the treatment of prostate cancer.
- Eucommia ulmoides Oliv: it is a plant, and it has properties as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anticancer, cardioprotective, and neuroprotective agent that have been applied for the treatment of cardiovascular disease, sexual dysfunction, cancer, metabolic disease, neurological disease, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and diabetes. The bioactive compounds are lignans, iridoids, phenolics, steroids, and flavonoids. Additional studies show that it can also be effective in the treatment of osteoporosis.
- Dipsacus inermis Wall: it is the dried roots of Dipsacus inermis Wall., and it is used in Chinese medicine to strengthen bones. Researchers have reported that it may be helpful for bone formation agents to treat osteoporosis. And these bone formation properties provide therapeutic benefits for the treatment of osteoporosis.
- Cibotium barometz: It is found to have properties that nourish bone and improve gonadal function. And it is frequently used as an herbal remedy for the treatment of osteoporosis. The rhizome of this contains anti-inflammatory properties and is used in the treatment of diseases like rheumatism, lumbago, sciatica, and dysuria in the aged.
- Velvet Antler: it is commonly obtained from the Silka deer and Red deer, that is used as an effective agent to strengthen the bone and for the improvement of immune health, physical strength, and sexual function
- Cistanche deserticola: it is used for the treatment of kidney deficiency, sexual dysfunction, female infertility, and constipation. Recent reports suggest that it provides effective treatment for osteoporosis.
- Cuscuta Chinensis Lam: The seed of this is one of the commonly used herbs in Chinese medicine for the enhancement of sexual function, vision, and birth control. The biological activity of CC includes skin and liver protection, immune regulation, neuroprotection, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers are still in the process to find the effectiveness of the treatment of osteoporosis.
- Cnidium Monnier Cusson: Cnidium Monnier Cusson is a commonly used herb in Chinese medicine to alleviate pain and inﬂammation, improve sexual potency, and for the treatment of skin-related diseases, and improve bone strength. The main bioactive constituents found are coumarins compounds. Further research has reported the minor effects on the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and osteoporosis.
How can osteoporosis be prevented?
To promote lifelong healthy bones and reduce calcium loss:
- Take a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D throughout your life.
- Make a habit of regular exercise, especially weight-bearing activities like walking or jogging.
- Don’t smoke.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
Herbal remedies have been also recognized as a natural alternative for the treatment of osteoporosis. These plants contain bone-strengthening substances that can improve bone health and can prevent many other diseases. Studies have shown positive effects, but it requires more extensive studies to determine the long-term effects of these remedies on osteoporosis.