Written By: Jasmine Sufi R.TCMP Edited by: Ellice Yang R.TCMP
What is Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is the reduction in bone density, lowered bone density can result in fragile bones causing the risk of more breaks. Bone Mineral Density (BMD) is a means of measuring the loss of bone and often bone density decreases as we age. Bone generation and deconstruction is an important balance that requires the need of Osteoblast (cells that make bone) and Osteoclasts (cells that remove/absorb bone) for healthy bone growth to occur.
A complex series of metabolism, microenvironment and hormonal interactions influence and regulates the production and deconstruction of bone tissue. There are many factors that can initiate the production of more osteoblast or osteoclasts. The balance of the two will ensure that healthy bone growth is possible. Too much osteoblast would cause abnormally high amounts of bone deposits and over activity of osteoclasts will cause bone tissue to be degraded as in the case of osteoporosis. Herbs, vitamins, food, lifestyle, hormonal balance and inflammation are some of the factors that influence this balance.
Prevention is the key, here are some tips:
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the health and production of bone and skeleton is governed by the kidney organ system, specifically by kidney qi. If the kidney meridian and system is healthy with sufficient qi, then the skeletal bones along with marrow will be strong, enabling proper production and re-absorption of bone tissue. If the kidney qi is depleted, as we see with ageing and with menopause, a natural decline in kidney qi occurs causing a decline in bone density. In addition to kidney qi inflammation is another factor associated with bone density. Increased inflammation can enhance the production of osteoclasts, resulting in more bone being absorbed than created. The management of inflammation, stress and circulation has shown a positive shift in Bone Mineral Density Levels. (H, Zhao., N, Zhao., P, Zheng., X. Xu., M. Liu., D. Luo., H. Xu & D. Ju., 2018)
Some Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbs that can be consider to help maintain healthy bone density include the following:
Note: Traditional Chinese Herbal prescriptions are prescribed by a Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner (R.TCMP). Chinese medicine diagnosis and assessment is required to provide the right combination of herbs for an individual. Each person is unique and therefore each prescription and reaction is unique. Please consult a trained professional.
Gu sui bu – Drynaria Rhizome
TCM herb that tonifies the kidneys and supports the bones. Studies have shown that Gu Sui Bu decreases inflammation and decreases Osteoclast function – this decreases bone re-absorption and therefore improving Bone Mineral Density (BMD). (H, Zhao., N, Zhao., P, Zheng., X. Xu., M. Liu., D. Luo., H. Xu & D. Ju., 2018)
Yin yang huo – Epimedium
TCM herb that tonifies kidneys. Studies have shown that Yin yang huo increases the number of osteoblastic cells, while decreasing osteoclast production and increasing osteoclast destruction. This increased ratio of osteoblasts improves bone formation and improve BMD. (H, Zhao., N, Zhao., P, Zheng., X. Xu., M. Liu., D. Luo., H. Xu & D. Ju., 2018)
Duzhong – Eucommia Root
Duzhong has a function very similar to that of Yin Yang Huo. In TCM it strengthen the kidney and bones. Studies have shown that Duzhong improves the number of Osteoblasts and decreases the number of osteoclasts, there by improving bone density. (H, Zhao., N, Zhao., P, Zheng., X. Xu., M. Liu., D. Luo., H. Xu & D. Ju., 2018)
Rou Cong Rong – Herba Cistanches
TCM herb that tonifies kidneys. Rou cong rong has been found to improve bone density. (H, Zhao., N, Zhao., P, Zheng., X. Xu., M. Liu., D. Luo., H. Xu & D. Ju., 2018)
Vitamin D3 which we all know about and are probably taking is the key to the absorption of calcium but there is much more needed for calcium the building block of bone to be deposited into bone. The key combination is Vitamin D3 to help absorb calcium (obtained through the sun and supplements), Vitmain K2 the active ingredient that helps deposit calcium on to bone (found in some fermented foods, created from the microbiome of a healthy gut and supplements) and calcium of course sourced from diet and supplements. (Krishnan, 2018)
In Chinese Medicine, diet is an essential means of healing and maintaining the body’s balance. Food, as we are growing to learn is the basis of health and finding the right types of food for your body type can help you maintain health and wellness. According to Chinese Medicine improving the strength of your kidney system is the key to building strong bones. Here are some foods to aid in bone health:
Parsnips, Sweet Potatoes, Onions, Pumpkin, Carrots, Yams, Peas, Chick Peas, Black Beans, Beef, Tuna, Anchovies, Bone Broth. (Pitchford, 2002)
These are some examples you could incorporate into your diet to help improve kidney health. It is important to get a customized diet plan from your TCM practitioner as each individual is different and recommendations will vary from person to person.
There are many factors that influence your health but the factor that influences health the most is the level of inflammation. Inflammation causes a constant immune response in your body, it hinders circulation depleting nutrients to your organs and tissue. Stress is one of the main causes of low grade chronic inflammation. Increased stress can cause an increase level of inflammation stimulating the destruction of osteoblasts the cells that build bone.
Some tips that can help decrease inflammation:
Exercise – Increases circulation and decreases inflammation.
Meditation – Calms the mind and changes your perception of stress.
Acupuncture – Promotes circulation, calms the mind and nervous system and promotes balance.
Identifying osteoporosis early is essential to helping prevent bone deterioration. You can start by ensuring you are doing your very best to exercise, manage stress, eating right and taking the right combination of vitamins and herbs to help your body build stronger bones.
For your individualized plan, call to book your Initial Consultation appointment today.
Krishnan, K (2018) Vitamin K2-7. Microbiome Labs. https://gomegaspore.wistia.com/medias/6j05lnyk4u
Lan Xu, Z. (2005). Pocket Handbook of Chinese Herbal Medicine 300 Individual Herbs.
Maciocia, G. (1989) The Foundations of Chinese medicine a Comprehensive Text for Acupuncturists and Herbalists. Pg 96-97
Pitchford, P. (2002). Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition.
Zhao, H., Zhao, N., Zheng, P., Xu, X., Liu, M., Luo, D., Xu, H., Ju, D., (2018), Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis Using Chinese medicinal Plants: Special Emphasis on mechanisms of immune modulation, Journal of Immunology Research, Volume 2018: Article ID:6345857 https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jir/2018/6345857/