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Osteoporosis

posted on 1 April 2006 | posted in Health Articles


THE PROBLEM OF OSTEOPOROSIS

Osteoporosis is often regarded as an inevitable accompaniment of aging, especially in women. In fact, much can be dome to prevent and even reverse it. But it needs to be recognised that there is much more to bone health than calcium and HRT!

According to the FDA, the indications for estrogen-only therapy are the treatment of moderate to severe hot flashes and night sweats, the treatment of vulvovaginal atrophy (but topical estrogen is preferred), and the prevention of osteoporosis. For osteoporosis prevention [with] estrogen and estrogen plus progestin, the FDA advises that the need for treatment must be clearly established, and that other treatments must first be carefully considered. In other words, hormones are no longer a first-line treatment for the prevention of osteoporosis.

The NIH concurs with the guidance from the FDA, which is that hormone use should be limited to the treatment of moderate to severe menopausal symptoms, vulvovaginal atrophy, and prevention of osteoporosis (as a second-line drug). In addition, hormones should be used at the lowest dose and for the shortest time needed to obtain the desired effect. The need for hormones should be reconsidered at regular intervals, and attempts made to discontinue such use when no longer needed.

Osteoporosis principally is a disease whereby the protein based collagen matrix of the bone is diminished due to reduced activity of the cells that manufacture it – the osteoblasts. This limits the extent to which calcium salts can deposit in bone and as a result, the bone thins, making it more liable to fracture.

A good analogy is, imagine that the collagen matrix of the bone is like the bookshelves of a library and the books, representing the minerals, are contained in the matrix. If the bookshelves collapse, there is nowhere for the books (minerals) to be stored. So when dealing with osteoporosis, we should be looking to how we can encourage a good strong bone matrix to contain the minerals within the bone.

Reduced osteopblast activity in osteoporosis is thought to be caused by insufficient nutrients to make the protein bone matrix. This would require Vitamin C or bioflavinoids. Additionally, elevated homocysteine levels have been observed in postmenopausal women and are implicated in the causation of osteoporosis. Faulty homocysteine conversion (a process which the liver carries out) can interfere with collagen cross-linking that could lead to a defective collagen matrix within the bone. Whatever the causes, bone loss can be accelerated by subclinical (small changes in function not detected in blood tests) low thyroid function together with a calcium or magnesium deficiency, or an excess of aluminium or phosphorous (found in many foods, particularly fizzy drinks).

It is well known that being deficient in oestrogen can also have an effect on osteoporosis since oestrogens can increase osteoblastic activity and decrease osteoclastic activity (mechanism in the bone that breaks down old bone).

HOW CAN I PICK UP EARLY SIGNS?
Since osteoporosis can set in from the age of 40, it is not a bad idea to visit your local private hospital for a bone density scan. You may find in the Yellow Pages clinics that also carry this out using an ultrasound technique. The cost is around £45. This would then be used as a base line for any future scans. Because everyone’s bone density is different, in the early stages, it is difficult to identify if a person has always had a low bone density, which is natural for them. If a scan is done early enough, it can be measured against in the future without causing undue alarm.

  • If your dentist has told you that you have periodontal disease, this may be an indication that a bone density scan is worth having.
  • If you have a fracture with the minimum trauma
  • If you start to develop a ‘dowager’s hump’
  • Diminished height
  • Severe backache


  • IS OSTEOPOROSIS REVERSIBLE?
    The answer is that it does appear to be, although of course, prevention is better than cure. In clinic myself and my colleagues have come across cases whereby bone scans have shown improvement with taking the appropriate supplements to stimulate collagen production over a period of about 18 months. At the very minimum, the rate of deterioration has been halted.

    Some years ago, a colleague of mine worked with a lady whose osteoporosis came to light after an x-ray examination and was already quite advanced. She was placed on a fairly minimal supplement, diet and exercise programme, which she has maintained to this present day. After about 18 months on this programme, she had the more sensitive bone density scan and happily reported that the consultant’s report stated “this lady is unlikely to ever suffer from osteoporosis”!

    WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT PREVENTING OSTEOPOROSIS? WHAT CAN I DO IF I HAVE BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH OSTEOPAENIA?
    Our current approach to the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis encompasses the following.

    1.Herbal supplementation: We use these herbs as a kick start for a few months after which we rely on the long-term nutrient supplementation described in No. 2. Galangal Formula for women and a modified version for men, Galangal Formula -A . Galangal Formula contains some of the following herbs.

    Damiana & Helonias: These herbs are oestrogenic by virtue of their phyto-oestrogenic qualities. Unlike HRT, they have no side effects. However, if there is reason to avoid phyto-oestrogens, then consider the alternative combination Galangal Formula -A Anti-inflammatory herb. (There appears to be an important inflammatory component of osteoporosis, which could result in enzymes being activated to destroy the collagen matrix (osteoclastic activity).

    Phytoplankton pacifica: Powerful antioxidant and full of minerals.

    Bilberry fruit: Rich in anthocyanoside bioflavinoids which are noted for their ability to strengthen and promote the production of collagen. They also have potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. We believe this is one of the best remedies we know of to date for the natural treatment of osteoporosis.

    Galangal: Bioflavonoid containing osteotrophic herb.

    2.Nutrient supplementation: It is important to have the following as supplementation in the long term. This is something that needs to be an ongoing part of the treatment and should not be stopped.

    Calcium: This constitutes the main mineral of bone. We prefer Calcium100mg of elemental calcium which is 2-5 capsules daily

    Magnesium: Required for the activation of vitamin D and alkaline phosphatase (an enzyme needed to build bone). Magnesium is possible more important than calcium in regulating the ebb and flow of calcium to and from the bones. We like to use Magnesium Supreme 100mg 2-5 capsules daily.

    Zinc: Needed for the activation of alkaline phosphatase. Zinc is involved in collagen synthesis and repair. We use Zinc + B6 providing15mg elemental, 1-5 capsules daily.

    Manganese: Required for the manufacture of collagen. Try Manganese 5mg (gluconate) , 5mg elemental, 1-5 capsules daily.

    Silicon: Try the herb Horsetail and Rosemary which is rich in natural silicon. This is also good for hair and nails.

    Boron: Required for the activation of oestrogen and vitamin D. Only take this when you are either peri-menopausal or menopausal (menstruation has ceased). This is found in the combination formula Skeletal Strength.

    Molybdenum: Involved in an enzyme that builds up bone. We like Biocare’s Nutrisorb Molybdenum Ascorbate 200mcg elemental. 1-2 drops daily. Do not take if pregnant.

    Vitamin C: Required for the manufacture of collagen. The most absorbable and hypoallergenic brand we have found is C vitamin 1g per capsule, 1-2 capsules daily.

    B vitamins: These are required as co-factors for the enzymes concerned with the processing of homosysteine. Try – Nature's Sunshine B Complex 1-2 capsules daily. Taking B vitamins will make your urine yellow. B vitamins are water soluble and highly coloured. It is in no way harmful.

    Anthocyanosides: These bioflavonoids strengthen and promote the synthesis of collagen and increase levels of Vitamin C within the cell. Antho Supreme is full of these. Take 1-6 capsules daily.

    Evening Primrose oil: Contains anti-inflammatory properties. We very much like Biohealth’s Evening Primrose Oil because it is optimum grade, cold pressed and solvent free. Take 2-4 capsules daily.

    All round bone health supplement: We have found that if you wish to take an all round bone health supplement, containing a number of the above ingredients, we highly recommend Nature's Sunshine Skeletal Strength , take 2 twice daily. You could add to that, Antho Supremen and Evening Primrose Oil

    3.Dietary Advice: Reduce meat consumption: Meat is acid forming and this can deplete the body of alkaline minerals such as calcium and magnesium.

    Reduce dietary phosphates. Like meat, soft fizzy drinks contain a lot of phosphates that have been added to them. This can affect the body so that it calcium leaves the bones to be used to eliminate phosphates from the body in the form of calcium phosphate. Dietary phosphates also interfere with the absorption of calcium and magnesium. In one study, middle-aged women who drank an average of 1.5 cans of soft drink daily had twice the incidence of bone fractures as those who didn’t drink soft drinks.

    Reduce dietary fat: Too much fat in the digestive tract stops dietary calcium and magnesium from being absorbable.
    Reduce coffe, sugar, salt and alcohol intake. All of these substances have been shown to increase the risks of osteoporosis.

    Reduce aluminium exposure: Aluminium increases the activity of the parathyroid gland thus leaching calcium out of the bones. Avoid aluminium cookware, aluminium-based antiperspirants, and aluminium-containing antacids.

    Reduce aspirin usage- (see also article on use of aspirin as a preventative in heart disease) Long-term use of aspirin based medication is believed to inhibit the synthesis of collagen.

    Increase the consumption of vegetables: Vegetarians lose bone at ahalf the rate of omnivores, presumably because of reduced meat consumption. Leafy greens are rich in some of the protective nutrients that we previously discussed in this article. Leafy greens contain vitamin K, which is required fo rhte functioning of osteocalcin, which forms part of the protein matrix of bone.

    Anthocyanoside-rich fruits such as bilberries, cherries, red grapes, blackberries and blackcurrants should be eaten freely.

    Increase soya consumption: The isoflovones and phytosterols in soya beans produce a mild oestrogenic effect.

    4.Lifestyle advice:Cigarette smoking: Is associated with a negative calcium balance and a depletion of vitamin ce. Smokers have a bone miner content that is about 25% lower than that of a non-smoker.

    Weight bearing exercise: Walking is excellent. At least three one-hour walks a week are recommended. This stimulates bone development.

    Exposure to the sun: May be beneficial as it helps vitamin D status which is involved with the proper utilisation of calcium. Apparently the ability to synthesis vitamin D declines with age. Thirty minutes daily with a third of the body exposed is considered adequate.

    Stress: Should be minimised since it depletes the body of calcium, magnesium and vitamin C

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