Osteoporosis

This is a crippling disease affecting both men and women caused by a lack of calcium.

What to look for

The condition may cause no symptoms at all or alternatively these may occur:-

  • backache.

  • a gradual loss of height and a stooped back.

  • fractures and breaks occur easily.

  • loss of bone in the jaw.

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes a person’s bones to become thin and weak. Possible problems to watch for are hip fractures, blood clots or pneumonia.

Women are usually more susceptible to this disease as their bones are lighter and less dense. And among women, usually osteoporosis affects fair and small people.

Causes

The most common cause is age. From about 35 years of age onwards, all people’s bone structure changes and becomes less dense. There are debates continuing about triggers which speed up the process of bone deterioration.

There are a number of lifestyle changes you can make to minimise the likelihood of it occurring. (discussed further on).

  • poor bone formation from childhood

  • calcium intake

  • increased bone loss due to sensitivity to the parathyroid hormone.

  • at menopause, the fall in oestrogen lessens the amount of calcium drawn from the nutrients you eat.

  • a diet high in protein from flesh foods, sugar, caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes and salt.

It is possible for you to have your bones tested and this is highly recommended for people of all ages. Ask our pharmacist about this.

Traditional Treatment

Conventional treatment centres around drugs and physical supports.

Your doctor may prescribe certain pain killers to ease the discomfort, as well as hot compresses and easy massage.

However, to prevent it in the first place, your doctor may recommend you go on hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Studies have shown that women who take long-term HRT within a few years of menopause keep their bone density and have fewer hip and wrist fractures while they are taking it than women who do not.

As a preventive measure your doctor may suggest that you increase the amount of calcium in your diet or perhaps take calcium supplements along with Vitamin D.

Also low impact exercise is usually recommended to keep your bones supple and too much weight off them.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Like conventional techniques, alternative therapies focus on building and retaining strong bones.

Chinese Herbs - Chinese practitioners recommend several herbs for preventing bone loss - the most popular are dong quai (Angelica sinensis) and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng). You will need professional advice for appropriate dosages. Chinese practitioners recommend several herbs for preventing bone loss - the most popular are dong quai (Angelica sinensis) and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng). You will need professional advice for appropriate dosages.

Exercise - Studies have shown that exercises reduce bone loss and help prevent osteoporosis. Studies have shown that exercises reduce bone loss and help prevent osteoporosis.

Herbal Therapies - Herbalists believe that the use of some herbs can help slow the progression of this condition. Herbs traditionally used for the prevention of osteoporosis include horsetail (Equisetum arvense), alfalfa (Medicago sativa), licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis), and sourdock (Rumex crispus). Herbalists believe that the use of some herbs can help slow the progression of this condition. Herbs traditionally used for the prevention of osteoporosis include horsetail (Equisetum arvense), alfalfa (Medicago sativa), licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis), and sourdock (Rumex crispus).

Ask about progesterone creams made from the wild Mexican yam; they may stimulate bone formation.

Homoeopathy - In addition to a calcium-rich diet and exercise, homoeopaths recommend treatments they believe help the body absorb calcium. Remedies are likely to include Calcarea carbonica, Calcarea phosphorica, Calcarea fluorica, and Silica. You will need professional assistance for remedies and dosages. In addition to a calcium-rich diet and exercise, homoeopaths recommend treatments they believe help the body absorb calcium. Remedies are likely to include Calcarea carbonica, Calcarea phosphorica, Calcarea fluorica, and Silica. You will need professional assistance for remedies and dosages.

Dietary Considerations

The most obvious addition to your diet is calcium whether this is via more calcium rich foods (low-fat dairy, broccoli, cauliflower, salmon, tofu, and leafy green vegetables) or supplements. According to The Australian Wellbeing booklet on Osteoporosis, people with a history of weaker bones should be consuming approximately 1000 milligrams per day increasing this to 1500 mg per day around the menopause time.

To help the body absorb calcium, some practitioners suggest taking vitamin D and magnesium supplements.

In addition to eating calcium-rich foods you should also avoid acid rich foods such as red meats, soft drinks and grains. Excessive amounts of alcohol and caffeine should be avoided.

Prevention

  • Eat foods rich in calcium

  • Avoid foods that can interfere with your body's absorption of calcium (listed above)

  • Do exercises for 30 to 45 minutes at least three times a week (always check with your doctor before starting any exercise program).

  • have your digestive system examined as calcium may not be absorbed properly in your system. Eat plenty of aloe vera juice and acidophilus yogurt

  • Stop drinking coffee and cola

  • Stop smoking immediately

  • Do not smoke.

  • Avoid antacids containing aluminum.