The essentials of bone health:
Bone health is dependent primarily on two functions: the minerals that interact to make bones strong and the cells that break the bone structure down so that new bone can grow. Bone cells are made up of osteoclasts, which “break” the bone, and osteoblasts, which promote bone growth.
What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis, a bone disorder that generally impacts middle-aged women more than men, is where the body's bones gradually deteriorate. While the amount of bone lost in a year can be minimal, it accumulates over time, causing the bones to weaken significantly and become critically vulnerable to fractures. Elderly women who suffer from such injuries may experience a decrease in quality of life because of the lack of mobility and overall fitness. Often, osteoporosis goes undiagnosed until a women falls or easily breaks a bone.
What Alternative Medicines Help Treat Osteoporosis?
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the primary method of treating menopause symptoms. This is because it restores hormone balance and reduces the likelihood of bone degeneration. However, HRT can pose some health risks such as cancer and stroke.
Alternative medicines for osteoporosis also include:
This is known as one of the most popular and effective alternatives methods. It uses very fine needles, which are inserted in specific points of the body to activate “energy pathways” in the human body. Despite its success and popularity as an alternative medicine for osteoporosis, it is costly, since it must be performed by a licensed practitioner in order to ensure quality and safety standards.
Herbal remedies usually involve herbal supplements or preparations, aimed at fixing the hormonal imbalance. Such alternative medicines for osteoporosis are usually divided in phytoestrogenic and hormone-regulating supplements.
Phytoestrogenic supplements. These are based on plants that contain phytoestrogens. Some examples include red clover and black cohosh. Phytoestrogens have a chemical makeup similar to the estrogen found in the human body, and they can be used to replenish estrogen levels. Unfortunately, they are not considered the best alternative medicine for osteoporosis because they have some side effects. When used for an extended period of time, the body may decrease the production of its own estrogen.
- Hormone-regulating supplements. These supplements are also becoming a popular way to treat osteoporosis. Since hormone-regulating supplements do not contain estrogen, they function by stimulating the endocrine system to produce more hormones.
Doctors would recommend a combination of both lifestyle changes and alternative medicine to prevent and treat osteoporosis.
Treatments such HRT have the ability to curb osteoporosis and menopause, but carry with them a certain degree of risk. As a result, women should carefully consider all treatment options under the guidance of a licensed physician.
- "Calcium and Healthy Bones." New York State Department of Health. www.health.state.ny.us.
- "Menopause and Osteoporosis." Cleveland Clinic. http://my.clevelandclinic.org.
- "Prevention: Who's at Risk." National Osteoporosis Foundation. www.nof.org.
- "What You Need to Know about Osteoporosis." American Physical Therapy Association. www.apta.org.