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Osteoporosis and Osteopenia

If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia you will definitely want to start a functional medicine program.  Functional medicine fixes the cause of osteoporosis.  Osteoporosis and osteopenia occur when the body is in a catabolic state.  This is when the body starts to eat itself to provide fuel to keep the systems functioning.  When we are catabolic, the body eats the bone, the lean muscle tissue and the lining of the gut.  It is imperative that this system gets repaired so you will stop breaking down the good parts of your body.

Functional medicine stops the breaking down of the bone, and Chinese herbs can help facilitate the rebuilding of the bones.

Osteoporosis and the Hormonal System:

The hormones estrogen, progesterone and cortisol all play a role in maintaining bone mass. Cortisol, like cortisone or prednisone, is a corticosteroid hormone. All corticosteroid hormones accelerate bone loss.  This is why they are used only when absolutely necessary and why long-term steroid therapy puts people at great risk for osteoporosis. Even your body’s over production of the naturally occurring hormone cortisol will inhibit bone growth.

Osteoporosis and the Digestive System:

Calcium is the primary mineral of bone formation. It is best absorbed in an acidic environment, but due to digestive dysfunction most people suffer from a lack of acidity in the stomach that impedes calcium. Examples of digestive dysfunction would include hydrochloric acid deficiencies from B vitamin and zinc deficiencies, bacterial infections of the stomach such as h. Pylori, and stress, which inhibits hydrochloric acid production. Your immune system is designed to both protect us from invading organisms and repair worn out cells. If your immune system is focused on fighting infections or maintaining mucosal barrier function, it is less able to carry out its other basic functions, including repair of bone. Bone is a dynamic structure and on a daily basis is being broken down and replaced: so much so that every seven years, your entire skeletal structure is torn down and rebuilt.

Osteoporosis and the Detoxification System:

High levels of mercury, lead and other heavy metals directly interfere with bone strength. These toxic metals lead to leaching of calcium and magnesium out of bone as the calcium and magnesium attempt to chelate, or pull out heavy metals. The toxic heavy metal lead is actually stored in bone tissue, which leads to further weakening of the bone structure.


Rebuilding Bone with Chinese Herbal Medicine

Osteoporosis is a bone disorder that primarily affects aging individuals. These people gradually lose bone mass density over a period of several years. As a result of osteoporosis, their bones become weak and fragile, and they have much higher risk of bone fracture from minor injuries. Furthermore, individuals with osteoporosis often require an extended period of time for recovery after an injury, which is often complicated with infection.

Osteoporosis is six times more common in women than in men because a tremendous amount of jing (essence) is lost during the process of pregnancy and delivery. We are born with a finite amount of jing and our lifestyle determines how quickly we burn through it. Post- menopausal osteoporosis is most common and happens between 51 to 75 years of age. Women who have children may see signs and symptoms of osteoporosis earlier than those who have less or no children.

The western medical approach is to use drugs called biphosphonates, a category of drugs that include Fosamax (alendronate), Actonel (risedronate), Didronel (etidronate), Aredia (pamidronate), and Skelid (tiludronate). On average, these drugs do indeed increase bone mass density by 3 to 5% after continuous use for three years. They cause numerous side effects, however, such as stomach irritation, and may increase the risk of cancer (thyroid adenoma and adrenal pheochromocytoma) and fertility impairment (inhibition of ovulation, and testicular and epididymal atrophy).

Furthermore, there is evidence that use of these drugs do not decrease the incidence of bone fracture. Though these drugs increase bone mass density, the bones remain brittle and are susceptible to fracture. This is evident as the use of biphosphonates is linked with increased risks of osteonecrosis of the jaw (1 in 952 cases) and subtrochanteric or femoral shaft fractures (274% increased risk). [i],[ii]. This happens because the dead bone cells are not removed from the bone matrix and new bone cells just pack in around these dead cells. It is often said that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. In this case, the dead bone cell becomes the weakest link.

In menopausal women, hormone replacement therapy may be used to decrease the loss of bone mass density. These drugs, however, must be prescribed and monitored very carefully, as use of these hormone substances have been shown to significantly increase risk of cancer, such as breast cancer (by 20 to 30%), endometrial cancer (by 6-8 folds), and ovarian cancer (by 10 to 20%). Other side effects and adverse reactions of hormone replacement therapy include gallbladder disease, thromboembolitic disease, and photosensitivity. [iii] In brief, treatment of osteoporosis requires careful evaluation of risks versus benefits by both practitioners and patients.

Treating osteoporosis with acupuncture and the Chinese herbal formula Osteo 8 can strengthen bone without the side effects associated with the biphosphonate drugs or hormone replacement therapy. The herbal formula, Osteo 8 by Evergreen Herbs, facilitates the removal of the dead bone cells so new bone cells can fill in that space leading to stronger, healthier bones. This formula has an osteogenic effect to stimulate osteoblast proliferation and differentiation and an osteoprotective effect to prevent and treat osteoporosis. It also has an angiogenic effect to stimulate blood vessel formation, invigorate blood circulation, facilitate wound healing, enhance tissue regeneration, and facilitate healing of bone fractures.

Some of the other conditions treated by Osteo 8 include:

  • Soreness
  • Weakness and pain in the bones
  • Lower back and knees
  • The inability to stand for a prolonged period of time
  • Pain or soreness that is aggravated by weight-bearing activities
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Hair loss
  • Dryness
  • Blurred vision
  • Degeneration of muscle.

Herbs have been used with great success to nourish underlying deficiencies, and prevent and treat osteoporosis. Osteo 8 contains herbs that enter the Kidney to revitalize the body and replenish jing (essence). Osteoporosis or weakness of sinews and bones are the result of Kidney and Liver deficiencies. According to traditional Chinese medicine, the Kidney stores the jing (essence) that is vital for strong bones.   The Liver stores blood and controls the sinews and tendons. If the Liver and Kidney are deficient, bone, sinews and joints become weak. Therefore, treatment of bone disorders requires tonification of the Liver and Kidney. Osteo 8 is a well-balanced formula designed for women and men of all ages who want to maintain healthy bones.

In conclusion, drugs and herbs are both effective for prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. However, herbs are safe and natural, and should be considered the treatment of choice. Furthermore, patients are encouraged to adopt dietary and lifestyle recommendations to maximize the overall efficacy of the treatment program.

Call today, 239-260-4566, or schedule online,, to find out more about how acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can help you keep your bones strong and live a healthy and active lifestyle.


[i] Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Volume 68, Issue 2 , Pages 243-253, February 2010

[ii] JAMA. February 23, 2011

[iii] Estrogen Supplements. Drug Facts and Comparison, 1999.

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