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Herbal Medicine for Osteoporosis


Herbal medicine is one of a range of natural therapies utilised in the treatment of ailments and conditions, including osteoporosis.  This can be used in conjunction with, or independently of, conventional medication. Natural therapies and treatments are valued for their relative safety and lack of side effects.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is the loss of bone density, and often goes undetected until a patient falls and fractures a limb. Bone is constantly replaced throughout our lifetime, but this ability decreases with age.  Calcium is especially crucial in bone health, and needs to be present in the blood in sufficient quantities otherwise the body will begin to source this crucial mineral from the bones.  Those with an associated risk of osteoporosis include:

  • Post menopausal women
  • Patients on an extended course of corticosteroids
  • Smokers
  • Heavy drinkers; and
  • Inactive individuals

Tests for osteoporosis may involve a number of techniques, including a physical examination, blood tests and bone scans. Combating osteoporosis includes following a well balanced diet, especially adequate intake of calcium and Vitamin D as well as getting enough exercise. Foods that contain high levels of calcium include dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese. Vitamin D is also crucial in promoting bone density, and can be accessed simply by absorbing some of the suns UV rays. Exercise is also beneficial, particularly load or weight-bearing activities such as walking, jogging, climbing stairs, tennis and dancing.  Swimming and cycling unfortunately therefore do not qualify.

What is Herbal Medicine?

Herbal medicine uses remedies sourced from plant or flowers to heal a wide range of ailments and conditions.  It has been used for centuries my cultures all over the world, and is increasingly studied for links that may help provide medical treatments that can become disseminated more widely. Many herbal remedies have a scientific basis, in that their chemical constituents have an effect on the ailment or condition. Notable cultures which still utilise herbal medicine include Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and the Ayurvedic tradition in India.

How Can Herbal Medicine Help Osteoporosis?

For osteoporosis herbs can either provide a dietary source of calcium or help the body to regulate the body’s absorption of calcium.  Plants commonly used to treat osteoporosis include horsetail, black cohosh and alfalfa; amongst others.  These plants help to raise levels of estrogens in the body.  Other herbs can be used to stimulate your body to produce its own hormones, by inducing the optimal functioning of the hormonal glands.  These are both relatively low cost, low risk options for treating the condition.

Some herbs and minerals that can be used in the prevention and/or treatment of osteoporosis include:

  • Black Cohosh – contains phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogens) and has been shown to relieve menopausal symptoms
  • Chaste Tree – traditionally used for menstrual and menopausal symptoms but has been shown to have benefits for the treatment of osteoporosis
  • Red Clover – the isoflavones extracted from this herb may slow bone loss in women
  • Wild Yam – may be beneficial for both osteoporosis and menopause but more research is needed
  • Horsetail – contains substances that strengthen bone
  • Kelp – rich in minerals so it may be a complementary treatment for osteoporosis
  • Oat Straw – boosts the levels of hormones that stimulate cell growth
  • Calcium – helps maintain bone mass and reduces the risk of fractures, however, it needs to be taken in conjunction with other minerals
  • Vitamin D – increases calcium absorption in the gut and increases bone density
  • Vitamin K – required for bone production
  • Magnesium – increases bone density
  • Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids – increases calcium absorption in the gut, reduces the amount of calcium excreted through urine, increases calcium deposits in the bone and improves bone strength

Find out about other effective natural osteoporosis treatments.


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