Healthy Living Blog
By Dr. Tetreault DAOM, L, Ac
Are you familiar with your bones and bone health? How healthy are your bones? Chances are, they could be healthier. Both osteoporosis…and osteopenia have become a major health risk for women over the age of 50 with fifty percent of women in this age group affected with a bone fracture. Osteoporosis occurs when the body does not create new bone in comparison with the removal of old bone. This leads to a decrease in bone strength, density, and mass which can lead to bone fractures from only minimal trauma. Major risk factors include menopause, longevity of age, dietary habits, family history, or alcohol and tobacco substance use. Also, chronic use of certain medications are now known to also play a big role. These include certain thyroid drugs, heparin, and especially corticosteroid usage and prescriptions.
Eastern Medicine is very beneficial in stopping the progression of osteoporosis by maintaining strong and healthy bones. Treatment can help alleviate pain from soreness or weakness in the bones, lower back, and knees. Both acupuncture and herbal formulas can help improve one’s ability to stand for a prolonged time or in the use of recovery from bone fractures and surgery. Eastern Medicine regards bone health as replenishing kidney jing (essence), tonifying kidney yang and yin and also energy (qi) and blood. Osteoporosis or weakening of sinews and bones are derived from the root cause of kidney and liver deficiencies. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, we know that the kidney stores essence which is vital for strong bones and the liver stores blood which in turn controls the tendons and sinews. When the kidney and liver are deficient then bones, joints, and tendons all become weak. So the herbal formula for bone health is liver and kidney tonifying herbs which replenish these deficiencies. The therapeutic actions of these eastern formulas have an osteogenic effect to stimulate osteoblast proliferation and differentiation. This works as an osteoprotective treatment to help prevent and treat the deterioration of bone. There is also an angiogenic effect which stimulates blood vessel formation and improves circulation, and therefore enhances tissue regeneration and even wound healing. Certain acupuncture points are used to help stimulate these areas as well which strengthen the bone and nourish the kidney and liver yin.
We know that osteoporosis is over 5 times more common in females. This is mostly due to the large amount of jing (essence) lost during pregnancy and delivery. Post menopausal osteoporosis is the most common and shows up between age 51 and 75 years of age. Men show more loss of jing (essence) deficiency through loss of teeth, hair loss, and soreness of back and knees and can often be brought on from excessive sexual activities.
Food therapy for optimal bone health includes foods rich in plant estrogen such as yam and soybeans, soft bones of fish such as sardines or mackerel, dark leafy greens, oxtail, bone-based soups with tomato and ginger. Calcium supplements are helpful and are most absorbent if combined with vitamin D and K and other minerals. A high calcium snack can be hummus with black beans and goat milk yogurt. This can be enjoyed between meals as a snack. The American Bone Health Organization recognizes that women after age 50 and men after age 70, that the RDA of calcium should be increased to 1200mg daily. This would be the equivalent of 2-3 servings of calcium rich foods each day. Many actual forms of calcium supplements are hard to digest and there are many factors which contribute to the lack of absorption. These may include caffeine, excessive protein, and much more. The herbals prescribed by your Eastern Medicine Physician will greatly help improve the absorption of calcium along with utilization of this mineral to allow elevated levels of calcium in the blood. Avoiding alcohol and tobacco use is also of importance.
The best exercises include weight bearing and resistance ones which do not cause joint distress. These include tai chi chuan, qi gong, walking, and swimming. Weight bearing exercises can consist of one legged stands, leg lifts, light low impact jump roping, etc. These are all very beneficial in strengthening muscle, bone, and joints without too much stress.
The major goals provided by Eastern Medicine for bone health are to help stop the progression of bone degeneration, improve the utilization of calcium in the body, promote healing for tissue regeneration which in turn prevents risk of fractures and bone disease. Call today for your optimal bone health with natural alternatives to avoid risky side effects. 772-626-6419