Osteoporosis is a degenerative bone disorder that consists of the bone getting thinner and weaker – in other words, a general decrease in bone mass and density. Osteoporosis makes bones more susceptible to breaks and fractures. Bone loss itself does not cause any symptoms until a fracture occurs, often as a result of a simple fall. The wrists, spine, and hips are the most affected places. Such injuries can significantly reduce quality of life, independence, and, in the case of hip fracture, shorten life.
A major factor that influences osteoporosis is hormone imbalance, particularly of estrogen, which regulates levels of osteoclasts, or cells that break down bone. Therefore, when estrogen levels drop, the body's ability to regenerate the bones is reduced because osteoclasts are uncontrolled. The osteoclasts overrun the osteoblasts, or cells that build bone mass, making women lose more bone mass than normally. This imbalance leads to a decrease in bone density and mass.
Menopause does affect your bones
Age and poor nutrition earlier in life also play a role in the development of osteoporosis, but the disease is more common in women than men. This is in part because of the decrease in estrogen levels disrupts the regulation of bone mass, and mass is lost faster than it is built.
Other less frequent factors that could contribute to bone loss include inadequate intake of calcium and vitamin D, having a small frame, and the use of certain medications.
Bone loss can turn into osteoporosis if not properly addressed, so it is a good idea to be informed about methods for treating and preventing osteoporosis.
One way to prevent osteoporosis is to balance hormone levels, ensuring that the body has enough estrogen to maintain bone mass. Other interventions can also help prevent osteoporosis or slow its progression.
Three approaches to the treatment of osteoporosis
There are three levels of treatments for osteoporosis:
- (1) Lifestyle changes
- (2) Alternative medicine
- (3) Medications
It is generally advised to start with the least risky approach, lifestyle changes, and go on to riskier approaches only if necessary.
The first level involves no risk but may be the hardest way to go. Changes in habit can be difficult to implement, but they are important in preventing osteoporosis.
Calcium intake is important throughout all of life. Women over the age of 50 should consume 1,200 mg of calcium a day. Vitamin D is also essential because it helps the body incorporate calcium into the bones. Women under 70 years of age should make sure they are getting about 600 IU of vitamin D daily, which can be obtained from the body's own synthesis of it when the skin is exposed to sunlight, or from a supplement.
Increasing muscle mass with weight-training exercise is another way to prevent osteoporosis and falls. Other helpful lifestyle adjustments include quitting smoking and limiting caffeine intake.
It's not always easy to follow through with this approach, so you might want to consider the next level of treatment, because alternative medicine can be a great help in preventing osteoporosis.
Alternative approaches involve little or no risk and can be considered a safe way of preventing and halting osteoporosis. In this approach, herbal remedies are the most effective option.
There are two types of herbs to address osteoporosis: phytoestrogenic and hormone-regulating herbs. Phytoestrogenic herbs (e.g., black cohosh, red clover) contain plant estrogens. Therefore, these herbs replace the missing estrogen; unfortunately, phytoestrogenic herbs can produce several side effects as a result of adding hormones from outside.
Unlike phytoestrogenic herbs, hormone-regulating herbs don't contain any estrogen. Instead, these herbs nourish your hormonal glands to promote the healthy production of your own natural hormones. This ultimately ends up balancing overall hormone levels. Because of this, hormone-regulating herbs, like Macafem, can be considered a safe and natural way to manage osteoporosis.
From Nature & Health magazine, Dr. Gloria Chacon says:
A combination of approaches is a good route to take. Lifestyle changes combined with alternative medicine are one viable way to manage osteoporosis.
Medical interventions typically involve the highest risk and often the highest costs. One of the most common drug therapies for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis in the U.S. is hormone replacement therapy (HRT). While it can be a very effective way to prevent and manage osteoporosis, it entails serious side effects and increases the risk of reproductive cancers.
In addition or instead of HRT, a physician may prescribe bisphosphonates to slow down bone loss and reduce the risk of fractures. Calcitonin is less effective than HRT and bisphosphonates, but it may be used as an alternative to these drugs.
Remember that these three levels of approaches are not mutually exclusive. You can use different approaches at different times or combine several at the same time. Nowadays, more and more women are finding that a good way to prevent osteoporosis during menopause is a combination of healthy lifestyle and alternative treatments.