Complementary Medicine

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Osteoporosis—Natural Help for Strong Bones

A nutritional supplement for osteoporosis that beats prescription meds.
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Did you know that strontium, a safe and cheap nutritional supplement, is almost 70% more effective than prescription osteoporosis medications?

Loss of bone density, called "osteopenia" when mild and "osteoporosis" when severe, is becoming more and more common as our population ages and becomes more sedentary. Ten million older Americans have osteoporosis, and an estimated 1.5 million experience fractures related to osteoporosis every year. Although drug companies mostly promote expensive (and sometimes toxic) medications to both patients and physicians, the good news is that simple, safe and cheap natural remedies are even MORE effective than medications! It is easy to treat osteoporosis safely, effectively, and naturally!

Although using calcium to increase bone density has received most of the media attention, it is actually a rather small player when it comes to improving bone strength. In addition to weight-bearing exercise and natural estrogen, many other nutrients and treatments can dramatically improve bone density and decrease bone pain. Sadly, except for calcium, most doctors only hear about expensive prescriptions such as Fosamax® and calcitonin (200 units twice a day—use only in severe cases). Although these can be helpful, I would certainly start first by adding the nutrients that your body needs to make strong bones.

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Strontium for Osteoporosis

This mineral is highly effective at improving bone density. I am not speaking about strontium-90, the very dangerous radioactive compound released during nuclear testing. The strontium available in health food stores is non-radioactive and very safe—even in high doses. Studies using strontium in the treatment of 353 osteoporosis patients showed a dramatic 15 percent increase in spine bone mineral density (BMD) over two years in patients using 680 mg of strontium (2,000 mg of strontium ranelate) a day.1 They then repeated the placebo-controlled study with 1,649 osteoporotic women. New fractures decreased by 49 percent in the first year of treatment, and bone mineral density in the lumbar spine increased by an average of 14.4 percent after 3 years. There was an 8.3 percent increase in hip BMD as well.2 Other forms of strontium have shown similar benefits, and 340-680 mg of elemental strontium daily appears to be a good dose. Early data also suggests that the strontium may also be helpful in the treatment of osteoarthritis, and even decreases bone pain in very severe osteoporosis patients.3

Many other nutrients are also helpful for improving bone strength. To optimize bone density, these are the key nutrients I would recommend:

  1. Vitamin D 2,000-3,000 IU/day
  2. Vitamin K 500-600 mcg/day
  3. Calcium 1,000 mg/day
  4. Magnesium 200-400 mg/day
  5. Boron 2-3 mg/day
  6. Silica 200 mcg/day
  7. Strontium 340-680 mg/day

These can all be found in combination products to make it easier.

In addition, I would recommend bioidentical estrogen in women and bioidentical testosterone in men if these are low. Although there has been a lot of confusion about the safety of bioidentical hormones vs. synthetic and pregnant horse urine derived estrogen, I suspect most of this is simply marketing. When one looks at the research on the safety of bioidentical estrogen and BIOIDENTICAL testosterone to treat these hormonal deficiencies, it is clear that these are far preferable to synthetics.

In addition, don’t forget the basics. Walk more (1/2-1+ hours a day). If your problem is severe enough that you have osteoporosis, I would use a biphosphonate medication (e.g., Fosamax) with the above natural therapies at least until you have improved from osteoporosis to osteopenia. Also, avoid unnecessary use of medications like acid blockers (e.g., Prilosec) which can cause osteoporosis. Instead, you can cure indigestion naturally.

For more information on natural help for osteoporosis, click here.

References:

1Meunier, P.J., et al. "Strontium ranelate: dose-dependent effects on established postmenopausal vertebral osteoporosis-a two-year randomized placebo-controlled trial." Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, May 2002; 87 (5): 2060-6.

2Meunier, P.J., et al. "The effects of strontium on the risk of vertebral fracture in women with postmenopausal osteoporosis." New England Journal of Medicine, 2004, January 29; 350 (5): 459-68.

3McCaslin, F.E., et al. "The effect of strontium lactate in the treatment of osteoporosis." Proceedings of the Staff Meetings of the Mayo Clinic 34: 329-34, 1959.

Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., internist and author of From Fatigued to Fantastic!, researches treatments for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and fibromyalgia.

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