Osteoporosis is one of the most common bone diseases. While bones can gradually deteriorate and thin over time, most of those afflicted do not realize that they have osteoporosis until severe symptoms emerge. Two of the most common symptoms with dire consequences are intense back pain and hip fractures, because osteoporosis causes the thinning of bones and the loss of crucial mineral density levels. Osteoporosis is a condition that affects both men and women, but it is more common in mature women after menopause due to hormonal imbalances. These imbalances leave women more susceptible to osteoporosis because of estrogen deficiency; the lack of this vital hormone makes it more difficult for the bone to rebuild itself and facilitates fractures. Other common characteristics that make some vulnerable to the condition are a fragile frame and an unhealthy lifestyle. While there is an array of pharmaceuticals available to slow down, control and prevent the degenerative disease, there is no cure. Coupled with lifestyle changes, there are also a host of remedial herbs that can equally slow down, control and prevent the disease. Many of these herbs can be easily accessed and are effective alternatives to drugs.
Herbal Remedies for Osteoporosis
Evening primrose oil (Oenothera biennis)
Evening primrose oil is a rich herbal treatment for osteoporosis. The seeds of the plant are full of gamma-linolenic acid and linoleic acid. Both of these acids are key components needed for the human body to naturally produce anti-inflammatory substances. Apart from acting like the body’s natural version of ibuprofen, evening primrose oil has been linked to increasing the bone mineral density and reducing bone turnover in patients with osteoporosis. Evening primrose oil is an important herbal treatment because it can assuage physical pain and it can combat osteoporosis at the cellular level.
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)
Alfalfa is a perennial legume and a member of the pea family. Alfalfa can be used as an herbal treatment to combat estrogen deficiency and reduce the risk for osteoporosis. It can be taken as a capsule or conveniently eaten as a fresh sprout. If eaten in its raw form, then a handful or two can be consumed everyday. Alfalfa is rich in vitamin K2. This vitamin plays an important part in managing osteoporosis because it encourages bone growth and regrowth. However, alfalfa should be avoided while using any other herbs or pharmaceuticals that act as blood thinners. Also, those diagnosed with lupus or are pregnant should not consume this herb.
Boneset or Por huesos (Eupatorium perfoliatum)
Por huesos literally means “for bones” in Spanish. It is also commonly known as boneset herb, agueweed, hempweed and Indian sage. It is recommended that this tea be taken 3 times daily between breakfast, lunch and dinner. The tea is prepared by adding 1 tsp of tea powder to 1 cup of water. The boneset tea is a natural way to strengthen the body’s bone framework and promote growth.
Tea (Camellia sinensis)
Unlike coffee, tea contains powerful compounds that can rebuild bones. These compounds can also fortify bones. While all teas are not created equal, green tea has emerged as the tea in managing osteoporosis. Research suggests that constantly drinking green tea over the span of years can increase bone mineral density and prevent bone loss. External environmental factors aside, tea on its own has these remedial benefits. Furthermore, both men and women can reap the rewards of tea in coping with osteoporosis.
Soy (Glycine max)
Like tea, soy can both increase the mineral density in bones and reduce bone loss. Women in their earlier stages of menopause, and sometimes before, can especially benefit from soy intake. Soy is a rich plant-based food with proteins, vitamins, fiber and omegas. It is also full of isoflavone compounds; these compounds share many similar properties with estrogen. In menopausal women, this similar estrogen compound can level hormonal imbalances and mitigate the estrogen deficiency that is common in menopausal women.
Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)
Apart from easing menopausal symptoms, red clover is emerging as another herbal remedy for osteoporosis. Similar to the compounds in soy, red clover can also mitigate the estrogen deficiency that afflicts menopausal women, because it also contains isoflavone compounds. Red clover can prevent bone loss by acting like (frail) estrogens. The plant, which is part of the legume family, has also been found to increase mineral density in bones.