Osteoporosis, commonly referred to as brittle bones, is a syndrome leading to reduction in bone mineral density, and architecture and changes in the variety and amount of proteins in bone. The patient is at an increased risk of fracture. A hip or spine fracture would require immediate hospitalization and surgery. Spinal or vertebral fractures can result in loss of height, severe back pain and deformity.
There are various risk factors linked to the development of Osteoporosis:
- 80% of cases occur in women, as they have lighter and thinner bones and lose bone rapidly post menopause.
- Age reduces bone density.
- Heredity and genetics determine if one is at risk.
- A smaller and thinner person is at a higher risk
- An adult who has broken one or more bones during their adulthood.
- There is a greater likelihood of people of Caucasian, Asian or Latino descent to develop osteoporosis as compared to Africans.
- Women with low estrogen levels.
- Men with low testosterone levels. Testosterone may be low due to high alcohol intake and insufficient diet.
- A diet lacking in calcium, vitamin D, phosphorous and essential vitamins.
- Too much of animal protein in the diet can lead to loss of calcium through the kidneys.
- High consumption of sodium.
- Inactive lifestyle combined with smoking and alcohol abuse increase the risk of osteoporosis.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) centers on the balancing of energy (qi) in each human being to achieve overall wellness. According to TCM, the loss of kidney qi and blood stagnation are mainly responsible for osteoporosis.
Herbal remedies are used to strengthen the kidneys, build qi, as well as work towards regeneration of new bone cells. Various types of Chinese medicine aim at nourishing the blood and kidneys, harmonizing nutrients, and promoting yin and yang energy balance by enhancing the digestive capacities of the spleen and liver and expelling superficial pathogens. A variety of herbs are used such as liquorice root, fresh ginger, Chinese taxillus herb, fresh oyster shell, white peony root, cassia bark, etc.
Clinical research conducted at the Traditional Medicine Research Institute, found that Chinese medications containing rich kidney tonic ingredients, amino acids and compounds could revitalize the cell systems and help in the treatment of osteoporosis. Other clinical research found that the herbs were effective in faster recovery from traumatic fractures. The formulas had anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, lessened pain and swelling, and improved blood circulation and microcirculation of injured tissue and organs.
Acupuncture has also been shown to treat osteoporosis. When the specific points are subjected to pressure, the nerve stimulation works towards building calcitonin, the hormone responsible for recalcification of bone and reducing bone pain. Research done at the Chengdu University have proven the positive effects of acupuncture towards increase in bone metabolism. This experiment had been carried out on female osteoporosic rats with lower estrogen levels.
The tried and tested ancient Chinese preparations coupled with acupuncture offer promise in treating the root causes of osteoporosis and bone disease, providing a beneficial environment to the body and enhancing bone health.