WESTERN MEDICAL EXPLANATION
“Osteoporosis” is the medical term used to describe reduced bone density and degeneration of bone microstructure. Osteoporosis does not necessarily exhibit specific symptoms but renders the body at a much higher risk of bone fractures due to poor bone structure.
Simply put, osteoporosis is the result of an imbalance between bone resorption and bone formation. Under normal circumstances, bone matrix undergoes a constant turnover in which osteoclast cells remove its mineralized matrix and osteoblast cells deposit new matrix to keep bones healthy and strong. As we age, bone resorption can become more dominant over bone formation and lead to bone loss.
Chinese Medicine Explanation
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), bones are governed by the Kidneys, a primary source of essence of life and of the Yin and Yang energies. Thus, a strong Kidney function provides ample nutrients that promote the lifetime formation of strong bones. When the Kidney function is weakened bone loss occurs faster than bone formation. Prolonged or severe Kidney weakness is the cause for osteoporosis.
What your prescribed medications do?
There are two types of osteoporosis drugs. The majority are biphosphonate drugs, like Fosamax, Actonel and Boniva.
These drugs work by inhibiting natural healing processes.
Ordinarily, osteoclasts are supposed to reabsorb old, infirm bone and osteoblasts deposit new bone in a continuous process. So when you take these medications, your bones may not lose density, but they will be composed of a higher amount of old, poor quality bone cells which makes them brittle and weak over time. Spontaneous fractures of the hip and jaw are common results because the bones are no longer properly nourished.
Biphosphonate drugs do not increase bone density. These drugs actually create weak bones. Do your own research! You’ll find this is true.
One drug called Forteo was developed that worked not by turning off the creation of osteoclasts so that bone cells weren’t resorbed into the body, but worked by increasing the activity of the osteoblasts to lay down more bone. Test results proved it causes bone cancer in rats but it was still approved for short term use in humans.
Some prescription drugs block the absorption of calcium into the bones leading to osteoporosis. Prednisone and other steroids do this. Steroids are commonly used to treat autoimmune, asthma, and inflammatory diseases.
The anti-coagulant Warfarin, also known as Coumadin, works by inhibiting vitamin K production. It is often prescribed for reducing high blood pressure, to keep blood flowing where there are obstructions of the arteries. One role of vitamin K is to take calcium in the blood and to direct it to the bones. When vitamin K is turned off, less than adequate calcium may be directed to build healthy bone.
Factoid: Warfarin was originally marketed in the early 1950’s as a pesticide to kill rats.
What does Chinese Medicine do?
Strengthening the Kidney function is considered to be a key principle in TCM to treat osteoporosis. As a result of enhanced Kidney function, the process of continuous bone nourishment can occur naturally and reverse osteoporosis. Although it has yet to be proven by modern biomedical studies, Chinese herbal formulas that follow the principle have shown satisfactory results in stopping bone loss and increasing bone mass in clinical studies in China. (I encourage you to find this information on your own if you’re interested.) The reason I have not provided specific information because there are many variables to these studies (different formulas, different ingredients, different dosages, unique individual variances).
Ultimately, there’s no single, most effective Chinese herbal therapy. There are many different herbal formulas available comprised of multiple herbs with specific functions tailored to individual needs. Addressing the “root” of the problem (Kidneys) is the key to reversing osteoporosis and therapy can be approached from different angles with the same goal in mind.
Sacred Healing Tree
12402 Toepperwein Road
Live Oak, Texas 78233