Western Bisphosphonate Drug Treatments for Osteoporosis Linked To Weakened Bones
Osteoporosis (meaning “porous bones”) is a condition where bone tissue loses its density, over a period of time, resulting in weakness and an increased risk of fracture. These risks can be reduced with lifestyle changes, nutritional supplementation and exercise programs designed to strengthen bone, improve equilibrium and prevent falls. But if your osteoporosis is advanced and you are currently under the care of a western physician, more than likely you have been given a prescription for a bisphosphonate drug such as Fosamax® or Boniva® to artificially increase the density of your bones. These drugs have been the treatment of choice since the mid 1990’s. However, as with all apparently good things, it pays to follow the latest research studies that actually test the effectiveness and safety of the drugs you use over the long term.
Recent studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine have exposed a significant link between the long-term use of Fosamax® and unusual transverse fractures of the thigh bone, indicating that prolonged therapy with these drugs tends to weaken bone integrity rather than strengthening it. (1)
In April of this year, Dr. Pauline Camacho, from Loyola University Medical Center told Reuters Health that the current AACE (American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists) guidelines recommend patients take a 3-year hiatus from bisphosphonate therapy after 4 or 5 years of treatment. (2)
Here in the West, there is no pharmaceutical alternative to bisphosphonate therapy other than the usual recommendations for mineral supplements such as Calcium citrate, Vit. D-3, Magnesium, Potassium, Boron, Vit K-2 and Strontium ranelate. Traditional Chinese medicine, however, has been helping people successfully deal with all aspects of aging for a few thousand years!
The Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) Approach:
Traditional Chinese medical theory approaches a disease state such as osteoporosis from a multi-faceted point of view, taking into consideration the relative balance between all aspects of your body and its environment. If we use the metaphor of a tree to describe a particular medical condition, the Chinese physician will commence his investigation by inspecting the leaves, stems and branches as well as the tree’s trunk and root system. He will also assess the local earthly environment and the sources of air and water before arriving at a diagnosis of what has become out of balance. Even if a set of symptoms describes a disharmony in the trunk and branches, such as “osteoporosis”, the physician will devise a treatment plan that replenishes resources for the tree’s use and rebalances all the systems that are responsible for sustaining the tree’s vitality.
According to the Chinese ancients, the health and vitality of bone matrix is dependent on the amount and quality of Kidney Jing (literally “essence resource”). Jing is a useful metaphor to describe the “water” source for bone growth and remodeling activities during the tree’s life span. In simple human terms, along with many other activities, Jing tells the osteoblasts to get to work making new bone and supplies the osteoclasts with energy to break down old bone.
During her lifetime, a woman can deplete her Kidney Jing, especially during pregnancy and delivery, overworking, stress or excess sexual activity. As a result, she will lose bone density. Fragile bones, however, are not the only symptom she will suffer. Other signs of Jing loss include premature graying of hair, balding, loose teeth, poor hearing, low back and knee pain. These symptoms can also be found in men, although less frequently and usually later in life.
In TCM theory, the liver system stores blood and controls the vigor of sinews and tendons. If the patient’s liver resources are depleted, he or she may also experience dizziness, dryness, blurred vision, tinnitus, thirst, night sweating and arthritic tendons and joints.
These same patients may also complain of muscle aches and weakness, poor digestion and fatigue. In TCM theory, spleen/pancreatic Qi (literally “energy”) is responsible for transforming and transporting food resources to all parts of the body, including the bones. Spleen energy also recycles blood and maintains the health of vessels and muscles.
Chinese Herbs Treat Osteoporosis
Given this larger picture of possible signs and symptoms, Chinese medicine aims to re-supply each of the organ systems that are responsible for healthy bone – the liver, spleen, pancreas and especially kidney Jing. Chinese herbal formulas have been used with great success for over two thousand years to achieve this end. Herbal specialists know precisely which roots, plants, fruits and natural substances replenish these resources. When these substances are simmered in water, they release their therapeutic nutrients into the water, turning the resulting broth into a medicine of great value.
Soup Broth: An Essential Form of Food Therapy For Osteoporosis
Most Chinese hospitals deliver herbal prescriptions to their patients in thermos bottles of warmed broth. Patients using soup broth therapy recover their health more quickly and are able to maintain a higher level of vitality for a longer period of time. Tablets and capsules, although useful, are more slowly absorbed into the body and take longer to achieve their intended effect.
“Chinese Soup Broth to Make Healthy Bone and Prevent Osteoporosis®”
This broth recipe has been handed down from one Chinese doctor to another for centuries. In many of my osteoporosis patients, it has entirely replaced the need for bisphosphonate medications. You prepare it yourself by simmering pork neck bones and carefully selected herbs in a crock pot for 6 -12 hours Each batch lasts 16 days and can be stored in your refrigerator or freezer until you need it. The herbal ingredients for the broth can be obtained through my clinic in convenient kitchen-ready packets accompanied by very simple cooking directions and can be mailed anywhere in the country.
Although the exact formula is proprietary, ingredients in the basic broth include Chinese wolfberry, longan fruit, red jujube date, codonopsis root, astragalus root, angelica sinensis root, American ginseng root, glehnia root, fresh ginger root and deer antler gelatin. Adjustments can be made to the recipe for patients who also suffer from arthritis or hip/joint disease.
In my 11+ years of clinical experience, every patient who has continued with the therapy for more than nine months has increased his/her bone density by 15 – 30%. All patients also committed themselves to 30 minutes a day of exercise, a garden-fresh food diet and some basic vitamin/mineral supplementation. The use of this broth recipe has thus far produced no side effects, and appears to maintain bone health for as long as you incorporate it in your lifestyle.
(1) “Atypical Fractures of the Femoral Diaphysis in Postmenopausal Women Taking Alendronate” The New England Journal of Medicine, March 20, 2008; vol 358: pp 1304-1306. Joseph M. Lane, M.D. and Dean G. Lorisch, M.D.
(2) Osteoporosis: A Guide for Clinicians by Pauline M. Camacho, M.D. and Paul D. Miller, M.D. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; April 2007