Herbs for Osteoporosis: Naturally Building Stronger Bones by Increasing Calcium and Vitamin D AbsorptionSean Russell
According to the U.S. Center for disease control, osteoporosis “affects approximately 10 million Americans and another 44 million have low bone density”. Osteoporosis means “porous bone” and causes our bones to become weak and prone to breaking as we age and lose bone mass. As we get older, our bodies become less efficient and less able to maintain certain functions, such as the generation of bone tissue. Bone mass decreases as we age at a rate of 10% to 14% per decade after the age of 30, as reported by a study called Modeling Normal Aging Bone Loss, with Consideration of Bone Loss in Osteoporosis, conducted in 2000. However, this loss in bone mass is preventable and is reversible to a large degree in many cases. Let us look at what osteoporosis is, what causes it, and how you can help to prevent or improve the condition.
Osteoporosis effects and Injury
Bone loss causes many elderly people stoop and hunch over as they walk. The may have lost so much bone mass that their vertebra have begun to collapse and compress. Either this shift can have a kyphosis affect, an excessive curvature of the thoracic spine commonly called a hunchback or an excessive lordosis curve in the cervical or lumbar region causing what is known as saddle-back. These types of excessive curves in the spine can greatly degrade a person’s quality of life, making it hard for them to perform basic movements such as walking, sitting up straight, bending over and even breathing.
Osteoporosis makes the likelihood of breaking a bone extremely likely and a minor fall can lead to devastating injuries. Where people with normal bone mass are able to catch themselves as they fall forward, a person with osteoporosis may break their arm. A common break associated with osteoporosis is a hip fracture. People normally associate falling with that being the cause of a hip fracture, but falling is actually a result of the hip fracture. Hip fractures usually occur when a person has a compressive force applied to their leg, such as stepping down some stairs, or when they are standing on a leg and twisting it, such as when reaching for something up high in a cabinet. This force puts a strain on the femoral head of the upper leg (femur) where it connects to the hip. The femoral neck, which is usually very strong and is responsible for supporting our full body, is severely deteriorated in someone who has osteoporosis. The femoral head can break off from the rest of the femur removing an individual’s ability to support themselves causing them to fall to the ground and unable to get up.
Osteoporosis Causes and Risks
Some instances of osteoporosis are genetic and those with a history of osteoporosis in their family are more likely to develop the disease as they age. Other instances of osteoporosis are caused by other lifestyle choices.
- Tobacco Use: Tobacco can interfere with the normal function of bone formation a process known as ossification. A reduced rate of ossification decreases the body’s ability to replace bone that is being consistently broken down, as well as the healing process of fractures.
- Poor Nutrition: When you do not provide your body with the appropriate amount of nutrients, it becomes less efficient in its ability to maintain its normal functions. In this case, a diet low in calcium and vitamin D means that the body does not have enough of the building blocks it needs to keep up with the maintenance functions of bone remodeling and repair. This inefficiency leaves gaps in the bone tissue and contributes to the porous condition of bones.
- Your Sex: According to the Mayo Clinic, post-menopausal women lose bone mass at an accelerated rate, accounting for 70% of hip fractures. While men are not the majority of osteoporosis sufferers, they can still lose bone mass and are at risk of developing the disease.
- Sedentary Lifestyles: It is truly amazing to see the connection between sedentary lifestyles and preventable diseases. Along with heart disease, obesity, and diabetes,osteoporosis can be prevented or improved with mild and consistent exercise. Bones respond to physical forces by reinforcing themselves. When you exercise, by walking or lifting weights, you are applying force to the bone, which in turn is stimulated to grow more bone tissue in anticipation of supporting the body for frequent activity. The phrase “use it or lose it”, really can be used to describe bone loss caused by sedentary lifestyles.
While some causes and risks of osteoporosis are hereditary or based on your sex, there are still actions you can take to improve your overall bone health and avoid serious complications.
- Eat plenty of calcium-rich foods such as yogurt, cottage cheese, and milk. Your favorite dairy product is going to be loaded with the calcium your body needs to restore bone tissue. For those of you who are lactose intolerant, collard greens, broccoli, kale, and figs are all high in calcium and other healthy nutrients.
- Have a glass of wine a moderate amount of wine, a glass or two a day has shown to improve the rate of bone formation in post-menopausal women. Of course, the use of alcohol can aggravate other health risk factors, so be sure to consult your doctor about whether or not this is something you should be doing.
- Exercise every day. If you are healthy enough to go for a walk, lift weights, or climb a tree do it. Whatever your activity of choice is, do it. Exercising is key to avoiding this disease. Remember that exercise applies loads to your bones, and those forces act as a stimulus for bone growth. By exercising frequently you are signaling to your body that strong bones are needed, and telling it to get to work maintaining them.
Choose Natural Herbs & Food Over Vitamins
We have been told for decades to start taking vitamins daily at age 30, namely Vitamin D and Calcium, to prevent bone loss. Well, you can put those scientists with the same ones that told you margarine was better than butter, because new research shows that calcium and vitamin D obtained from daily and multivitamins don’t work and don’t get absorbed into the body like food sources do. Herbs are simply dehydrated, concentrated, medicinal food! For years the natural health community has been trying to get adults to eat foods and take herbs high in calcium and vitamins and even herbs that help increase calcium absorption. Excellent Foods and herbs are:
- Yogurt, Low Fat Milk, and Cheeses
- Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
- Dong Quai / Dang Gui / Angelica Sinensis – A Chinese herb beneficial for blood and bones.
- Yin Yang Huo / Epimedium / Horny Goat Weed – this herb increases circulation and energy. It is known for sexual health among the population, but more used for bone health in herbalism and Chinese herbal medicine
Dimmak Herbs makes two product formulations for bone healing and bone health. For active people, athletes and those with bone breaks, bone fractures, and weak bones we make Bone Healing Mending Capsules. These are stronger with more circulation enhancement and injury recovery actions, these you can find in our Chinese Sports Medicine and Injury Section. For osteoporosis, over 30 years old support, elderly, osteopenia, or those looking for a long term solution to bone health, calcium absorption, and vitamin D absorption you can find all of this in our Herbal Bone Strengthening Capsules.