What You Need to Know About Osteoporosis©

What You Need to Know About Osteoporosis©

Osteoporosis 101

As a traditional naturopathic doctor, I do not diagnose, manage, or treat diseases. I do not tell anyone what to do or what not to do. I only provide information and perspective to help people make informed health decisions for themselves and their families. With that understood, let’s get a handle on the subject of osteoporosis.

To understand osteoporosis, you must understand several things about your bones:
Bones are living tissues in which cells regularly die and are replaced by new ones.This business of cell death, removal, and replacement is carried out by two important types of cells called osteoclasts and osteoblasts. One works to remove old dead cells while the other works to build new ones.Drug therapies for osteoporosis work by disabling the osteoclasts that remove dead tissue and/or stimulating the osteoblasts that build new tissue.Healthy bone tissue is strong. If yours is weak, it is unhealthy. In the absence of sufficient nutrients and exercise, unhealthy cells cannot produce healthy ones no matter how much you stimulate them.Tissues become unhealthy when nutrients are lacking, toxins are present, circulation is poor, and when hormonal balance is lost. All of these factors are usually present with osteoporosis.The only solution that will last, and not cause dangerous side effects, is to provide absorbable nutrients bones need as well as exercise sufficient to stimulate new growth in a hormonally-balanced environment.

Let’s address the two treatments we hear the most about ‑ drugs and calcium. There are two types of drug therapy for osteoporosis: the bisphosphonates (Fosamax, Boniva, Actonel, etc), and drugs like Forteo. The bisphosphonates work to stop bone loss. The problem is that the bone you are no longer getting rid of is the dead and dying tissue. This is why one common side effect is necrotic (rotting) bone infection, frequently in the jaw following routine dental procedures which don’t heal properly. A large accumulation of dead tissue may make an impressive x-ray or bone scan, but it doesn’t make you strong and well.

“A recent study by the New England Journal of Medicine showed a substantial increase in femur fractures associated with the use of Fosamax, Actonel, and Boniva type medicines (bisphosphonates). These studies also revealed that the longer patients took these drugs the higher the chances they would be harmed by them. Another study by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the long-term use of Fosamax, Actonel, and Boniva (or other bisphosphonates) increased the rare risk of femur fractures by three times...” (http://www.shefflaw.com/lawyer-attorney-1847524.html)

Forteo, a relatively new drug on the osteoporosis scene, works by hormonally stimulating bone tissue to produce new cells. There are no long-term studies on this drug because the studies were too dangerous to continue. As many as 50% of animals in studies developed bone cancers and lesions in less than two years. Stimulating unhealthy cell growth can cause cancer and lesions in human bones, too. (http://www.betterbones.com/osteoporosis/forteo-bonedrug.aspx)

A black box warning on Forteo limits its use in humans to about 18 months. After this time, you must use the bisphosphonates already discussed. If you don’t, all gains in bone mass will be lost. If you do use bisphosphonates, dead cells will eventually predominate over live ones and you will have dense, but very brittle, bones which break easily. Studies show that those who use bisphosphonates have marginally better scans for a little while, then progressively decline in ability to resist fracture. (http://www.shefflaw.com/lawyer-attorney-1847524.html)

Moving on to the calcium issue, consuming vast amounts of calcium won’t build strong bones if you can’t absorb it, if your body can’t properly place it into the cellular structure of the bone, or if your hormonal balance is causing your body to break down faster than it can build up. Besides all this, when there is a lack of calcium, bones don’t break, they bend.

The average adult weighs more than 120 pounds, yet the adult body contains only 2 – 4 pounds of calcium. We can readily see that calcium is not the major player on the field of bone health. Healthy bone is built on a healthy protein matrix. Ever heard the expression “bouncing baby boy”? Babies’ bones are notoriously resilient; they seldom break. When a baby is born, its bones are not yet calcified – they are almost entirely collagen, that’s the protein matrix. Over time, due to the stresses of weight-bearing exercise, those rubbery little bones will collect calcium and other minerals to become hardened so they can support the child’s larger frame.

When adults’ bones become brittle, the fault lies largely with that protein matrix. Due to hormonal imbalances, poor diet, poor digestion and ill-advised use of antacids, the protein matrix degrades to the point that it can’t hold calcium and other minerals effectively. The result is brittle bone in which cells are dying faster than they can be replaced.

If you want to prove it for yourself, grab a turkey and take out the wishbone. Drop it (the bone, not the turkey) into a glass of cheap white vinegar and leave it for a day or two. When you take it out, try to break it. You’ll find it intriguingly flexible. That’s because the vinegar was highly acidic, and the acid pulled the calcium out of the bone. Now try breaking a piece of chalk. Brittle, right? Chalk is almost pure calcium sulfate. The moral of the story is that if you want strong bones, you need to address the health of the protein matrix in your bones, not just the mineral accumulations ‑ and drugs can’t do either one.

What You Need to Know About Osteoporosis©