Osteoporosis is arguably one of the biggest threats to middle-aged women, especially in postmenopause. Fortunately, with the right set of wholesome habits and a little bit of dedication, women can easily improve their bone health and maintain it for years to come.
Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about treating osteoporosis to prevent it from limiting your life!
Three Approaches to Treating Osteoporosis
To treat osteoporosis, women can choose from among three approaches: (1) Lifestyle changes, (2) Alternative medicine, and (3) Conventional medicine, with a strong preference for natural options and proceeding to conventional ones only if necessary.
Lifestyle Changes for Osteoporosis Treatment
The first level of osteoporosis treatment, consisting of making simple lifestyle changes, carries the least amount of risk, but requires the most determination. Nevertheless, it can be a valuable tool in maintaining bone health.
Taking care of bones starts with eating right. Because the body uses the food we eat to build and repair itself, a wholesome menopause diet can nourish it from within and help keep strong, dense bones. Women should opt for healthy sources of complex carbs, healthy fats, and lean protein, which are also packed with beneficial compounds, such as:
- Phytoestrogens are plant-based compounds that act as weak estrogens in the body, thus helping lessen hormonal imbalance and prevent its negative effects on bone and muscle health.1
Soy, oats, mung beans, alfalfa
- Calcium is the most important mineral for bones, whose proper amounts are critical during and after menopause.2
Yogurt, cheese, kale, spinach, sardines
- Vitamin D is also necessary for strong bones as it improves calcium absorption and supports muscle function.2
Oil fish, eggs, goat cheese, tofu, mushrooms
- Magnesium deficiency has been associated with lower bone density and the development of osteoporosis.3
Nuts, beans, spinach, chard, cacao
Studies have found that staying physically active on a regular basis improves balance, reduces pain, lowers bone loss rate, and conserves bone tissue, leading to a reduced risk of fractures.4 Additionally, exercising during menopause helps prevent weight gain, lessen mood swings, and improve blood flow.
Amount: Healthy adult women should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-level exercises or 75 minutes of vigorous workouts per week.5
Type: Women with osteoporosis should focus on balance training, simple weight-bearing exercise, and low-impact aerobics, like brisk walking or swimming.
Useful tips: To prevent getting dizzy and falling, women are encouraged to take their time and exercise in familiar, well-ventilated places.
Precautions: Women should avoid strenuous and high-impact workouts that may lead to falls or injuries.
Once a woman optimizes her diet and keeps up with regular exercise, she can focus on improving other daily habits to complement her osteoporosis treatment. This will help nourish the body from the inside out and allow her to carry on with her daily activities unaffected.
Relieving stress is an important addition to the treatment plan as chronic psychological stress has been identified as a risk factor for osteoporosis.6 Try mindfulness, deep breathing, and positive visualizations.
Fall-proofing the house may consist of eliminating objects, cords, rugs, or furniture that increase the chances of a fall. It can also include installing bathroom rails or anti-skid mats to prevent slips.
Wearing proper footwear, which include low-heeled shoes with rubber soles to maintain balance and prevent falls.
Quitting smoking and excessive alcohol drinking is one of the most important steps to treating osteoporosis as both have been found to reduce calcium absorption and make it more difficult for the fractures to heal.7,8
Alternative Medicine for Osteoporosis Treatment
Alternative interventions are the second level of treatment of osteoporosis. The most common approach are herbal supplements, which are not only easy, but also directly tackle the underlying root of the symptoms, hormonal imbalance.
There are two types of herbal supplements that can be used for osteoporosis treatment: phytoestrogenic and hormone-regulating supplements.
Phytoestrogenic supplements, like red clover, contain compounds called phytoestrogens, which work like estrogen in the body. By that, they help regulate imbalanced levels of estrogen and other reproductive hormones to prevent bone loss and reduce other menopausal symptoms. While beneficial, phytoestrogenic supplements should not be used long-term as they can lead to dependency and further worsen hormonal imbalance.
Hormone-Regulating Herbal Supplements
Hormone-regulating supplements, like Macafem, do not supply the body with outside hormones. Rather, they nourish the hormonal glands with ample nutrients that are necessary for balanced hormone production. Because they are one of the safest and most effective treatments for osteoporosis, hormone-regulating supplements can be taken long-term for lasting hormonal balance and a symptom-free life.
From Nature and Health Magazine, Dr. Chacon says:
"Macafem's nutrients help restore natural hormones in women. Unlike hormone drugs, which are basically resumed in taking synthetic hormones, Macafem acts totally different in your body. It nourishes and stimulates your own natural hormone production by inducing the optimal functioning of the pituitary and endocrine glands." Click on the following link to learn more about Macafem.
A combination of lifestyle changes and herbal supplements is often the most effective and comprehensive osteoporosis treatment. However, women with severe symptoms may need more conventional approaches to treat it.
Conventional Medicine for Osteoporosis Treatment
The third level of osteoporosis treatments involves the highest cost, and it may come with high risks of side effects. However, conventional medicine is often needed to prevent fractures and strengthen the bones.
Most osteoporosis medications work by slowing bone loss or stimulating the bone-building process. They include the following:
Bisphosphonates - such as alendronate and ibandronate - are typically go-to osteoporosis medications.
Denosumab injections might be offered to women who cannot take bisphosphonates or whose osteoporosis is due to corticosteroids.
Bone-building drugs - teriparatide or romosozumab - can be prescribed to women with very low bone density.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) - consisting of estrogen, progesterone, or their combination - was once the most widely prescribed treatment for osteoporosis and other menopausal symptoms. While quick and highly effective, HRT has been found to increase the risk of serious side effects and put women's health at risk, as shown in the studies below. For this reason, its use is reserved for women with high fracture risks.
In 2002, the results of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) were published in JAMA, showing that HRT's risks exceed benefits, including higher rates of cancer, heart disease, and strokes in women taking HRT.9 In the 2019 edition of The Lancet, researchers at Oxford University confirmed the WHI's findings, also showing that HRT risks may continue for over 10 years after stopping its use.10
In the case of advanced osteoporosis that does not respond to non-surgical treatments, several surgical interventions may be necessary to reduce painful spine, vertebra, or hip fractures. They include kyphoplasty, vertebroplasty, and others.
The above approaches can be applied in combination as necessary to best treat osteoporosis. A growing number of women are finding that a mix of lifestyle changes complemented by alternative medicine offers the most relief from osteoporosis.
A Safe Way of Treating Osteoporosis
Implementing Lifestyle Changes:
- Eating regular meals with fiber, probiotics, and phytoestrogens
- Focusing on low to moderate exercises for 150 minutes weekly
- Relieving stress through mindfulness and deep breathing
- Quitting addictions to smoking and excessive alcohol drinking
And Taking Herbal Supplements:
- Phytoestrogenic herbal supplements, like red clover
- Or natural hormone-regulating supplements, like Macafem
- Better Health Channel. (2015). Osteoporosis and exercise. Retrieved July 16, 2020 from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/ConditionsAndTreatments/osteoporosis-and-exercise
- Office of the Surgeon General. (2004). Bone Health an Osteoporosis: A Report of the Surgeon General. Retrieved July 16, 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK45523/
- International Osteoporosis Foundation. (n.d.). Osteoporosis – Prevention - Nutrition. Retrieved July 16, 2020 from https://www.iofbonehealth.org/nutrition
- National Institute on Aging. (2017). Osteoporosis. Retrieved July 16, 2020 from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/osteoporosis
- National Osteoporosis Foundation. (2018). Prevention and Healthy Living. Retrieved July 16, 2020 from https://www.nof.org/preventing-fractures/prevention/prevention-and-healthy-living/
- National Osteoporosis Foundation. (n.d.). Treatment for Osteoporosis: Nutrient. Retrieved July 16, 2020 from https://www.nof.org/patients/treatment/nutrition/
- NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resources. (2018). Exercise for Your Bone Health. Retrieved July 16, 2020 from https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/bone-health/exercise/exercise-your-bone-health
- NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resources. (2018). Osteoporosis Overview. Retrieved July 16, 2020 from https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/osteoporosis/overview
- Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2016). Exercise: The Best Action You Can Take for Bone Health. Retrieved July 16, 2020 from https://health.gov/news-archive/blog/2016/10/exercise-the-best-action-you-can-take-for-bone-health/index.html
- Office on Women's Health. (2019). Osteoporosis. Retrieved July 16, 2020 from https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/osteoporosis
- The Open Orthopaedics Journal. (2012). Essential Nutrients for Bone Health and a Review of their Availability in the Average North American Diet. Retrieved July 16, 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3330619/
- Climacteric. (2016). Effects of phytoestrogens on bone mineral density during the menopause transition: a systematic review of randomized, controlled trials. Retrieved July 16, 2020 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27710141/
- National Osteoporosis Foundation. (2018). Calcium and Vitamin D. Retrieved July 16, 2020 from https://www.nof.org/patients/treatment/calciumvitamin-d/
- Nutrients. (2013). Magnesium and Osteoporosis: Current State of Knowledge and Future Research Directions. Retrieved July 16, 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3775240/
- Australian Family Physician. (2000). Exercise recommendations for osteoporosis. A position statement for the Australian and New Zealand Bone and Mineral Society. Retrieved July 16, 2020 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10958022/
- International Osteoporosis Foundation. (n.d.). Exercise Depending on Age. Retrieved July 16, 2020 from https://www.osteoporosis.foundation/health-professionals/prevention/exercise/exercise-depending-on-age
- Journal of UOEH. (2015). Chronic Psychological Stress as a Risk Factor of Osteoporosis. Retrieved July 16, 2020 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26667192/