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Herbal Medicine for Osteoporosis

Conditions
Last Updated Sep 29, 2020

Herbal medicine is one of a range of natural therapies utilised in the treatment of ailments and more serious conditions, including osteoporosis. It can be used on its own or together with conventional medicine. Their safety and lack of side effects make natural herbs of vital importance in the maintenance of health and wellness.

Perhaps you're wondering how medicine sourced from plants can improve the condition of brittle bones, which is the case in osteoporosis. The simple explanation is that bone is tissue, hence capable of absorbing plant compounds that are necessary for its growth and strength.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is the loss of bone density and often goes undetected until a patient falls and fractures a limb, as it rarely manifests any symptoms. Bone is constantly replaced throughout our lifetime, but this ability decreases as we age.

Calcium is crucial for bone health and your body needs sufficient quantities of it, or else it will get it from your bones which may result in osteoporosis. People who are more at risk of this skeletal disorder include:

  • Postmenopausal women
  • Patients on an extended course of corticosteroids
  • Smokers
  • Heavy drinkers
  • Inactive individuals

How is Osteoporosis Diagnosed?

If you suspect that you may have osteoporosis, you may undergo a bone density scan. It measures your bone mineral density to determine if you have enough calcium in your body, osteopenia or osteoporosis. Osteopenia is a condition where you have lower bone mass, but not low enough to be at risk of bone fractures. 

Blood tests can also detect the presence of bone disease in your body, but these cannot measure the amount of calcium in your body. A medical procedure called bone marrow biopsy is another way to find out if you have osteoporosis. 

Natural Ways to Fight Osteoporosis

You can combat osteoporosis by maintaining a balanced diet that is rich in calcium and Vitamin D, as well as getting enough exercise. Increase your calcium levels by consuming dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese, and green leafy vegetables.

Vitamin D is also crucial for promoting bone density and can be sourced from sunlight, fatty fish like salmon and sardines, mushrooms, egg yolks, pork and fortified orange juice. 

When it comes to which exercise program to go for, consider doing weight-bearing activities like walking, jogging, climbing stairs, tennis and dancing.

What is Herbal Medicine?

Herbal medicine uses remedies sourced from plants or flowers to heal a wide range of health conditions.  It has been used for centuries by cultures all over the world, and it's increasingly studied for its potential integration in medical treatments.

Many herbal remedies have a scientific basis in that their essential components have shown to be effective in the treatment of various health issues. Several holistic healing systems still utilise herbal medicine to this day, including Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and India's Ayurveda.

How Can Herbal Medicine Help Osteoporosis?

Herbs can either serve as a dietary source of calcium or help the body to regulate calcium absorption. Horsetail, black cohosh and alfalfa are classic examples of plants that raise the body's estrogen levels to treat osteoporosis. Other types of herbs activate the functions of the hormonal glands to stimulate the body's ability to produce its own hormones.

Herbs are, no doubt, a relatively cheaper and safer option for treating osteoporosis. Here below we list some of the best herbs and minerals for preventing and treating said bone disease:

Black Cohosh 

This herb contains phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogens) and helps relieve menopausal symptoms. Research shows that a herbal mixture with this component can help eliminate pain.

Chaste Tree

Traditionally used for menstrual and menopausal symptoms, the herb's ability to balance hormones in the body has been shown beneficial for the treatment of osteoporosis.

Red Clover

The isoflavones extracted from this herb help slow down bone loss in women. 

Wild Yam

This herb may be beneficial for the treatment of osteoporosis and soothing of menopausal symptoms, as it is believed to help increase estrogen levels. However, more clinical research is needed.

Horsetail

Herbalists highly recommend this plant for the treatment of osteoporosis as it contains silicon which helps with bone regeneration.

Kelp

Rich in minerals that can help address musculoskeletal issues, kelp is one of those herbs that may serve as a complementary treatment for osteoporosis. 

Oat Straw

This herb can help counter the effects of osteoporosis as it boosts the levels of hormones that stimulate cell growth.

Calcium

This bone-friendly mineral maintains bone mass and reduces the risk of fractures. However, it needs to be taken with other essential vitamins such as D and K.

Vitamin D

Also known as the sunshine vitamin, it increases calcium absorption in the gut and increases bone density.

Vitamin K

This vitamin is responsible for bone production, so maintaining it at sufficient levels will prevent the occurrence of osteoporosis.

Magnesium

This is a powerful mineral as it is responsible for increasing bone density.

Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids

Consuming foods rich in these good fats increases calcium absorption in the gut, reduces the amount of calcium excreted through urine, increases calcium deposits in the bone and improves bone strength.

Consult a certified herbalist, TCM practitioner, naturopath or an Ayurvedic practitioner to learn about other effective natural osteoporosis treatments.

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Originally published on Aug 19, 2020

FAQs About Herbal Medicine & Osteoporosis

What herbs are good for osteoporosis?

Several natural herbs can help promote bone health, but among the highly recommended ones are horsetail and black cohosh because of their ability to increase estrogen levels.

What can I take naturally for osteoporosis?

Following a diet that's rich in calcium, vitamins D and K, magnesium and strontium will reduce your risk of osteoporosis. Support it with the appropriate herbal medicine, and your chances of developing the disease are slim to none.

How do you treat osteoporosis without medication?

Besides loading up on foods rich in calcium and vitamins D and K, performing weight-bearing exercises is an effective way of reversing osteoporosis. These exercises include walking, dancing and jogging, among others.

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