Osteoporosis is a metabolic bone disorder caused by bone loss occurring at a rate that exceeds the body`s ability to create new bone tissue. Bone loss is a natural phenomenon, but due to factors such as poor diet and hormonal imbalances it can occur at a much higher than normal rate. When it does, it is accompanied by the loss of calcium and phosphate from the bones, leaving them brittle, porous, and prone to facture. Shrinking of the overall skeletal system can also occur, as can bent posture and humped shoulders and upper back.
Though both men and women can develop osteoporosis, it most commonly strikes women, especially in the U.S., where 33 per cent of women past menopause are afflicted with the condition. Overall, approximately 28 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis. In addition, each year in the U.S. 1.5 million people age 45 or older suffer bone fractures of the hip, spine, or wrist because of osteoporosis. In the U.S., the risk of women developing osteoporosis is greater than the risks of uterine, ovarian, and breast cancer combined, making osteoporosis the fourth leading cause of death for American women.
The reason that women are much more likely to develop osteoporosis than men are is because their bodies have proportionately less bone mass compared to men`s bodies, and they begin to lose bone mass at a much earlier age—typically starting at 35; whereas most men do not start to experience noticeable bone loss until around age 70. Bone loss in women becomes more rapid in the first five years following menopause, which can begin as early as age 45 or younger. During this five year period, nearly all women in the U.S. will experience a five to ten per cent reduction in bone mass. Once men start to lose bone mass to osteoporosis, their conditions can be equally as severe as those of women.
In addition to bone loss and bones becoming more brittle, fragile, and porous, other symptoms of osteoporosis include bone fractures, brittle fingernails, distorted posture, insomnia and restless behavior, joint pain, leg cramps (especially at night), loss of height, periodontal (gum) disease, and tooth loss. Often, these symptoms can manifest before people know that they have osteoporosis and can therefore act as early warning signs that bone loss is occurring. Note: If you chronically suffer from any of these symptoms, seek prompt medical attention to determine their cause.
Bone fractures that occur as a result of osteoporosis can cause serious health consequences. Fractures that occur along the spine can lead to permanent deformities in posture, while hip fractures can potentially prove fatal. In fact, among older women (and men, as well) who fracture their hips due to osteoporosis, one in five of them die within a year as a direct result of doing so.
Other symptoms of osteoporosis include loss of strength, endurance, appetite, and muscle mass, especially following bone fracture.
Tests for osteoporosis
There are a number of ways that you can be screened and tested for osteoporosis. The earliest and easiest test to perform is a height measurement, which should be done as part of an annual physical. If, as you grow older, your readings lessen, especially by half an inch or more, there is a strong likelihood that you are developing osteoporosis.
The next test is a bone density test, which should be performed immediately after you experience bone loss or begin to chronically experience any of the other symptoms mentioned above that can potentially be caused by osteoporosis. There are three types of bone density tests: the dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), dual photon absorptiometry (DPA), and the dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) test. Be sure to request either the DXA bone marrow test, which is the most accurate of the three tests, or the DEXA test, as the DPA test, though more commonly available, is the least accurate of the three. Some physicians prefer to rely on regular X-ray tests. These are the least efficient tests of all, and can only detect signs of osteoporosis after there has been at least a 25 per cent reduction in bone mass, by which time osteoporosis is in a very advanced stage.
According to the late John R. Lee, MD, a Harvard educated physician who was considered one of the world`s leading experts in osteoporosis treatment and diagnosis, the most effective way to conduct bone density tests is to focus on the spongy areas of long bones, heel bones, and vertebrae, rather than limb bones, which tend to be much denser and slower to exhibit changes in bone density. For best results, have your physician test the lumbar area of your spine, which will enable him or her to measure the bone density of four vertebrae at once, minimizing the risk of error. Should you test positive for osteoporosis, Dr. Lee advised you should then have your physician monitor your lumbar bone density every three to six months to determine how well you are responding to your course of treatment.
Conventional physicians, for the most part, regard the bone loss that characterizes osteoporosis to be a natural and inevitable consequence of growing older. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although a certain degree of bone loss does occur to everyone as they age, in non-Western cultures which continue to follow their native diets, osteoporosis, like most other chronic degenerative diseases so common here in the West, is virtually non-existent. Only in highly industrialized nations is it commonplace.
That being so, it is clear that osteoporosis is first and foremost a product of our modern day lifestyle and the various factors that comprise it. What follows are the most common causes of or contributing factors for osteoporosis.
Conventional Drugs: A variety of common, conventional drugs can cause or contribute to osteoporosis. Antibiotics, for example, can disrupt your body`s supply of healthy intestinal bacteria, which act as a source of vitamin K, a necessary nutrient for healthy bone formation and regeneration. Other drugs, such as steroids, including prednisone, actually inhibit the formation of new bone tissue, as well as inhibiting your body`s ability to absorb calcium, another essential nutrient for healthy bones. Additional drugs that can cause or exacerbate osteoporosis include antacids that contain aluminium, anticonvulsant and anti-seizure medications, blood thinners, chemotherapy drugs, and antidepressant medications such as lithium. Potentially, however, any drug can worsen osteoporosis symptoms.
Diet: Poor diet is a major cause of osteoporosis, especially in the United States. The standard American diet, appropriately referred to by the anagram SAD, which relies heavily on commercially processed foods, is both high caloric and yet extremely deficient in necessary nutrients. Such a diet also creates a highly acidic effect in the body, causing the body to deplete itself of calcium and potassium stores in order to buffer and protect against acid build-up. This, in turn, causes a need to eat higher amounts of protein-rich foods, which creates further acidity and greater calcium loss, all of which stimulates bone loss and osteoporosis.
Other common aspects of the SAD diet are the high sugar, salt, and white flour it contains, causing the loss of calcium, potassium, and other vitamins and minerals, such as boron, folic acid, vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, and silica, that are each vital for healthy bones. Alcohol, caffeine, and soda are other major dietary contributors to osteoporosis. In fact, research shows those that consume three or more cups of coffee per day have an 82 per cent higher risk of osteoporosis, while as little as one drink of alcohol per day can also significantly cause bone loss.
Further compounding the problem is the fact that non-organic, commercially processed and prepared foods are very low in vital nutrients essential for healthy bones, as well as good health in general.
Environmental Toxins: Heavy metals in our air and water supplies also contribute to bone loss, especially heavy metals such as aluminum, cadmium, lead, and tin. These types of toxins raise acidity levels, causing the body`s storehouse of minerals such as calcium and potassium to be depleted, weakening bones in the process. Chlorine and fluoride in our water supplies can have the same effect. Ironically, fluoride was once considered an effective treatment for osteoporosis, but research now shows that fluoride, even in small amounts, can greatly increase the risk of bone fracture and also cause bone abnormalities and weakness.
Hormone Imbalances: Conventional physicians typically regard osteoporosis as a condition caused by diminished oestrogen supplies in the body because of menopause. If that were the case, every woman would develop osteoporosis after undergoing menopause, but as mentioned above, osteoporosis is virtually non-existent in cultures around the world that do not eat a Western diet. In addition, women who follow a near or complete vegetarian diet typically have lower oestrogen levels than women who eat meat, yet have greater bone density and less risk of osteoporosis.
Holistic health practitioners recognize that it is not reduced oestrogen levels that cause osteoporosis, but reduced progesterone levels. Progesterone is essential for healthy menstruation and also plays an important role in stimulating the creation of new bone tissue. Progesterone levels start to decline shortly before menopause begins, and researchers have shown a direct correlation between reduced progesterone and accelerated bone loss. Once menopause occurs, the corresponding drop in oestrogen levels hastens the depletion of bone mass, as well.
While conventional physicians typically use synthetic oestrogen replacement to combat this problem, they ignore the loss of progesterone, which is far more important because, although oestrogen helps to prevent bones loss, it is progesterone that helps to build new bone and sustain overall bone health. Moreover, synthetic oestrogen treatments can cause a variety of negative side effects.
Note: One possible sign of hormone imbalance is vaginal bleeding. If you experience this symptom, consult with your physician or gynaecologist immediately.
Hysterectomy: Hysterectomy is a medical procedure that removes the uterus and, sometimes, a woman`s ovaries. Even when the ovaries are not removed, however, up to 57 per cent of all women who have a hysterectomy experience diminished ovarian function, which can lead to the rapid bone loss that is characteristic of osteoporosis. Compounding this problem is the fact that 90 per cent of all hysterectomies performed in the United States are unnecessary.
Lack of Exercise: In order for the body to properly continue producing new bone tissue, regular exercise, especially exercise that stimulates the bones, is essential. Such forms of exercise include weight training, brisk walking, and running. In addition to helping promote new bone growth, regular exercise also enhances blood flow to the bones, supplying them with oxygen and essential nutrients that can protect against bone loss. People who do not engage in regular exercise or other forms of physical activity have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis.
Low Body Fat: A lack of body fat due to excessive exercise and/or weight loss diminishes the body`s ability to adequately produce progesterone and oestrogen, hormones that are necessary to produce new bone tissues and protect against bone loss, thus setting the stage for osteoporosis to occur.
Smoking and Exposure to Second-hand Smoke: Smoking cigarettes and regular exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke can cause or exacerbate osteoporosis symptoms because of how the ingredients in cigarette smoke interfere with the body`s production of oestrogen. Cigarette smoke also diminishes the ability of oestrogen to properly interact with bone cells known as osteoclasts, which help to prevent and heal bone fractures. In addition, cigarette smoke increases the concentration of carbon dioxide in the blood, causing the body to release its calcium stores, further increasing the risk of osteoporosis.
Other Risk Factors: Other risk factors for osteoporosis include absent or irregular menstruation, being short in height and/or having a small bone structure, celiac disease (sensitivity to gluten), early menopause, gastrointestinal disorders (bloating, flatulence, and/or indigestion), genetic predisposition, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, kidney and liver disease, and lack of regular exposure to sunlight. Women of Asian or Caucasian descent, as well as women with blonde, red, or prematurely graying hair, also have a higher than normal risk of developing osteoporosis, as do women with freckles and women who have never had children.
The primary preventive measures you can take to greatly reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis is to follow the dietary and nutritional guidelines outlined below, to have your hormone levels (especially oestrogen and progesterone) monitored as part of an annual physical check-up, and to make necessary lifestyle changes. These include: eliminating or minimizing your alcohol intake to no more than one glass of red wine per day, avoiding aluminium and aluminium products such as aluminium cookware and commercial antacids and antiperspirants, getting enough sunshine each and every day, and regular exercise.
A healthy diet is absolutely essential for maintaining bone health and preventing and reversing osteoporosis. Such a diet avoids all commercially processed foods, alcohol, caffeine, pasteurized milk and dairy products, fried foods, refined flour and flour products, soda, and sugar, and minimizes the intake of salt and protein rich foods, all of which create acid build-up in the body, causing bone-protecting nutrients such as calcium and potassium to leech from the bones.
The ideal diet for preventing and reversing the effects of osteoporosis is one that is mostly vegetarian and emphasizes an abundance of fresh, organic leafy green vegetables throughout the day, along with whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and oily, wild caught fish that are rich in essential fatty acids, such as cod, mackerel, salmon and sardines. Small portions of fresh, organic fruit are fine, as is organic plain yogurt or raw dairy in small amounts. Fermented organic soy products, such as miso and tempeh can also be helpful, but other soy products, including soy milk and soy protein should be avoided because of how they can negatively affect oestrogen levels. Caution: Despite its hype as a health food, most soy products are actually unhealthy unless they are fermented and organic. In addition, all commercial soy crops grown in the U.S. are genetically modified.
Be sure to drink plenty of pure, filtered water throughout the day. Organic herbal teas, such as chamomile, green tea, peppermint and spearmint are also recommended.
Calcium is recommended to prevent and reverse osteoporosis and is most absorbable in the forms of either Calcium aspartate, Calcium citrate, or Calcium lactate. It is best taken in combination with magnesium, which, contrary to popular opinion, should be taken in equal dosages to calcium, according to Garry Gordon, MD, DO, a leading holistic nutritional and anti-aging expert. For best results, supplement with 800 to 1,500 mg of both calcium and magnesium.
Essential fatty acids (EFAs), especially omega-3 and omega-6 oils, are also important because of their ability to balance and maintain bone calcium stores. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and fish oils are excellent sources of omega-3 EFAs, while black currant, borage, and evening primrose oil all provide omega-6 EFAs.
Other useful nutrients include vitamin A, B-complex vitamins, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, boron, folic acid, vitamin C, Vitamin D3 (the most absorbable form of vitamin D), vitamin K, copper, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, silica, and zinc.
Another excellent supplement to protect against bone loss is natural microcrystalline calcium hydroxyapatite complex (MCHC), which contains calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and natural fluoride in the same proportions as found in healthy bone tissue. Research has shown that MCHC not only prevents bone loss, but also helps to rebuild new bone tissue in people with osteoporosis.
Prescription and non-prescription medication
What non-prescription and prescription drugs are you taking? Your non-prescription and prescription are partially the reason that you have this illness or disease – you need to get off these medications but do so only under the guidance of a licensed health care practitioner.
We know that when the body is out of balance, energy doesn’t flow, leading blockages and eventually disease. Here are some things you can do to combat stress and restore balance:
- Go to a Dr Morter BEST (Bio-Energetic Synchronisation Technique) Practitioner.
- Sign up for Energetic Re-Balancing: 2 practitioners to consider are:
- Stephen Lewis, founder of the Aim Program. Find out more by clicking here.
- . Find out more by clicking here.
- Consider using Mary Millers Iching System Products – ichingsystemsinstruments.com
- Reiki healing is very powerful in releasing stress and emotional baggage. Find a practitioner here.
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) has had remarkable results in dissolving stress. Find a local practitioner here or go to www.thetappingsolution.com or www.tftrx.com
- Try Hypnotherapy to relax the mind. Find a practitioner here.
Essential oils for osteoporosis: doterralife.wordpress.com/2011/05/08/all-natural-osteoporosis-treatment
How to prevent osteoporosis naturally: www.naturalnews.com/036093_osteoporosis_prevention_chronic_stress.html
Sunlight, exercise and diet can help you beat osteoporosis: www.naturalnews.com/001559_osteoporosis_disease_prevention.html
Aromatherapy for osteoporosis: www.ehow.com/video_8000413_osteoporosis-aromatherapy.html
Ayurvedic home remedies and osteoporosis: www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7e3VSu8d7E
Yoga for osteoporosis: video.about.com/yoga/Yoga-Poses-for-Osteoporosis.htm
Biophosphonate drug treatment causes more bone fractures not less: www.naturalnews.com/036042_biphosphonate_osteoporosis_bone_fractures.html
Links between smoking and osteoporosis: www.naturalnews.com/019691_bone_smoking_osteoporosis.html
Vitamin D and osteoporosis: www.webmd.boots.com/osteoporosis/news/20120705/could-high-daily-doses-of-vitamin-d-help-prevent-broken-bones
Further Information (links and books)
Osteoporosis: How to prevent, treat and reverse it by Marilyn Glenville; The Myth of Osteoporosis: What Every Woman Should Know about Creating Bone Health,
Andrea Butje | Aromahead [email protected] – aromatherapy
Carrie Vitt [email protected] – organic food recipes.
David Spector-NSR/USA [email protected] – meditation, stress
Judith Hoad [email protected] – herbalist.
Kath May [email protected] – reiki, tai chi.
Lillian Bridges [email protected] – Chinese medicine, living naturally.
Monika [email protected] – aromatherapy.
Rakesh [email protected] – Ayurvedic Practitioner.