Natural approaches make a real difference in osteoporosis. None of these methods qualifies as a cure, but all of them make a sometimes intangible but very satisfying difference in bone health.
At least 43 clinical studies involving over 4000 women have looked at the benefits of exercise in preventing and treating osteoporosis. No-weight bearing but vigorous exercise seems to be best for preventing fractures of the femur. Progressive weight training seems to be the most effective form of exercise for preventing fractures of the spine. Overall, exercise increases bone mineral density slightly and reduces the risk of fractures slightly.
A clinical trial found that praying for women who have osteoporosis was associated with worsened bone mineral density. However, this study recruited people who had performed the same prayer at least weekly for 40 years or more. It is possible that the postures required by the prayer account for the differences in the strength of bone.
Scientists at Rockefeller University and NYU report that a 12-minute yoga routine done every day may reverse bone loss caused by osteoporosis. A study of 741 volunteers who did the routine for 10 years found that the average increase in bone mineral density in the hip was 50 percent, but there were large individual variations in the effectiveness of the intervention.
4. Kitty care
Scientists who study cats believe that a cat's purring is its natural mechanism for maintaining bone mineral density that otherwise would be depleted during long periods of sleep and inactivity. Snuggling up to your feline companion may have a beneficial effect on your bones, too. Because cats purr in the range of 20 to 140 Hz, they help the humans they own lower stress hormone levels that interfere with bone formation.
5. Tualang honey
Malaysian scientists have done clinical studies of the benefits of a locally produced "tualang" honey for bone health in postmenopausal women. The honey has unquestionably potent antioxidant power. It is, according to these scientists, richer in antioxidant phenols than any other tested tropical honey. Tropic honey has to be rich in antioxidants to avoid spoilage. In laboratory tests, the quercetin content of the honey seems to be responsible for reducing the activity of bone-destructive osteoclasts, and in a clinical trial with Malaysian women, taking 20 grams (a little less than an ounce) a day of the honey was as effective in restoring bone mineral density as estrogen replacement therapy. The science of how the honey works is far from being worked out, but it would be worth a try for almost any woman who has osteoporosis.
6. Magnet therapy
There is a long history for various magnet therapy cures for bone diseases. There is an easy way to distinguish potentially helpful forms of magnet therapy from wastes of time and money. The magnets that make a difference create pulsating current. They aren't refrigerator magnets. A pulsating magnetic field helps cells of all kinds expel sodium, import potassium, and modify their surface voltage so that they absorb more minerals. Bone cells (and pancreatic cells) are especially susceptible to this effect.
7. Kacip fatima
Kacip fatima (botanical name Labisia pumila) is a Malaysian herb that is capturing a great deal of research attention. Completed scientific studies are only at the laboratory safety testing stages, but it appears that extracts of the herb enhance the collagen connections in bone after menopause.
8. Natural dentistry
Natural health commentators have been telling the world for years that mercury amalgams for filling cavities are toxic. More recentlythe claim is that titanium in dental implants causes granulomas that weaken bone, but evidence for this claim is lacking.
9 and 10. Dietary intervention and nutritional supplements
There is enough evidence for taking calcium and vitamin D supplements for preventing and treating osteoporosis that they can't really be considered "alternative". However, there is also a growing body of evidence for a holistic program of nutritional supplementation that includes magnesium, vitamin K, boron, silica, and bone growth factors. There is very little downside to taking the recommended daily intake of a variety of bone-related nutrients, and they don't cost a lot of money. Nutritional supplements are a good idea for anyone who is concerned about bone health.
- Effendy NM, Khamis MF, Shuid AN. The effects of Labisia pumila extracts on bone microarchitecture of ovariectomized-induced osteoporosis rats: A micro-CT analysis. J Xray Sci Technol. 2017. 25(1):101-112. doi: 10.3233/XST-16115. PMID: 27768005.
- Howe TE, Shea B, Dawson LJ, Downie F, Murray A, Ross C, Harbour RT, Caldwell LM, Creed G. Exercise for preventing and treating osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Jul 6. (7):CD000333. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD000333.pub2. Review. PMID: 21735380.
- Lindqvist K. [Purr as a cat--and avoid osteoporosis]. Lakartidningen. 2003 Nov 6.100(45):3688-90. Swedish.
- Lu YH, Rosner B, Chang G, Fishman LM. Twelve-Minute Daily Yoga Regimen Reverses Osteoporotic Bone Loss. Top Geriatr Rehabil. 2016 Apr. 32(2):81-87. Epub 2015 Nov 5. PMID: 27226695.
- Mohd Effendy N, Mohamed N, Muhammad N, Mohamad IN, Shuid AN. The effects of tualang honey on bone metabolism of postmenopausal women. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012. 2012:938574. doi: 10.1155/2012/938574. Epub 2012 Aug 29. PMID: 22973408.
- Nagai M, Ota M. Pulsating electromagnetic field stimulates mRNA expression of bone morphogenetic protein-2 and -4. J Dent Res. 1994 Oct. 73(10):1601-5. PMID: 7929974. Synder M, Zwierzchowski H, Zielińki KW. [Experimental studies of bone fracture healing in a pulsating magnetic field]. Beitr Orthop Traumatol. 1984 Jan. 31(1):1-7. German. PMID: 6712575.
- Yilmaz S, Kart-Köseoglu H, Guler O, Yucel E. Effect of prayer on osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. Rheumatol Int. 2008 Mar. 28(5):429-36. Epub 2007 Oct 10. PMID: 17926039,
- Photo courtesy of SteadyHealth
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