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Osteoporosis Treatments


Preventative Measures

There are some simple changes that you can make to help reduce your chances of getting osteoporosis. These include:
  • Quit smokinglong term smoking contributes to some of the worst cases of osteoporosis as it reduces bone mass.
  • Reduce alcohol intake – over-consumption of alcohol also reduces bone mass and it is for this reason that it is recommended that a person has no more than two alcoholic drinks per day.
  • Reduce or eliminate soft drinks – many soft drinks contain phosphorus, which can leach calcium from the blood stream and a gland in your body borrows calcium from the bones to replace it, expecting it to be replenished over time. If too many soft drinks are consumed, the body is unable to replace calcium fast enough.
  • Exercise regularly – regular weight bearing exercise not only helps you to build and maintain muscle, but also builds and strengthens bone. Exercise should be undertaken three to four times a week for half an hour at a time.
  • Manage stress – when stressed, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol that leaches calcium from the bones and blood. Stress management techniques such as drinking herbal tea, meditation and so forth helps to slow down the production of cortisol.

Nutritional Therapy

Nutritional therapy is simply following a diet that helps to treat and manage osteoporosis. The diet should be rich in whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and calcium rich foods such as dairy products, dark leafy vegetables, sardines and salmon. It should also be low in fat and animal products. For more information see nutrition.

Women should eat foods that contain soy, such as tofu, miso, soy milk and other soy products. This is because soy is rich in isoflavones, which have estrogen-like activity and can help to increase bone density. High consumption of salt, caffeinated soft drinks, coffee and alcohol can contribute to a drop in bone density so it is recommended to limit the intake of these.


The recommended daily intake for calcium is 1000 milligrams per day but it goes up to 1500 milligrams per day for adolescents, pregnant or breast-feeding women, adults over 65, and post-menopausal women. The best way to obtain calcium is through foods, especially dairy products. However, green leafy vegetables, tofu, shellfish, Brazil nuts and almonds are other good sources of calcium.

Many people do not get enough calcium in their diet and a calcium supplement is one way to address the deficit. The supplements work best when combined with magnesium and vitamin D. Vitamin D can be obtained by spending a short amount of time per day in the sun or from foods such as liver, fish oil and fortified milk.

Herbal Medicine

Herbal medicine can be used in the treatment of osteoporosis. Some herbs and minerals that can be used in the prevention and/or treatment of osteoporosis include:
  • Black Cohosh – contains phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogens) and has been shown to relieve menopausal symptoms
  • Chaste Tree – traditionally used for menstrual and menopausal symptoms but has been shown to have benefits for the treatment of osteoporosis
  • Red Clover – the isoflavones extracted from this herb may slow bone loss in women
  • Wild Yam – may be beneficial for both osteoporosis and menopause but more research is needed
  • Horsetail – contains substances that strengthen bone
  • Kelp – rich in minerals so it may be a complementary treatment for osteoporosis
  • Oat Straw – boosts the levels of hormones that stimulate cell growth
  • Calcium – helps maintain bone mass and reduces the risk of fractures, however, it needs to be taken in conjunction with other minerals
  • Vitamin D – increases calcium absorption in the gut and increases bone density
  • Vitamin K – required for bone production
  • Magnesium – increases bone density
  • Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids – increases calcium absorption in the gut, reduces the amount of calcium excreted through urine, increases calcium deposits in the bone and improves bone strength


Acupuncture uses special needles that are inserted into the body at specific points or meridians. The needles stimulate nerve endings and cause the brain to release endorphins. Several sessions of acupuncture may be required before pain is fully relieved. Not only can acupuncture relieve pain, it can also relieve other symptoms associated with osteoporosis.

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners use a combination of acupuncture and herbs to treat osteoporosis. According to Chinese beliefs, the kidney governs the bones and stores the qi or energy for the bone and marrow. Osteoporosis occurs when the bone marrow is no longer nourished and this results from exhaustion of the kidney’s Yin energy. The practitioner would use acupuncture to energise the qi at the specific points that stimulate kidney energy.

Along with acupuncture, the practitioner also uses a combination of herbs that boost estrogen levels and provide needed minerals. Several of these herbs overlap with what a Western herbalist would use. To boost estrogen, herbs such as Black Cohosh, Angelica, Cypress, Hops, Pomegranate Husk, Sage, Ginseng and Licorice would be used. To provide minerals, the practitioner may use Horsetail, Stinging Nettle, Knotweed, Hemp Nettle or Maerl.


Massage therapy can be slow and gentle or deep and vigorous. It is used to relieve pain, relax stiff muscles and increase blood supply to the affected areas. Massage can be used in people with osteoporosis but this should be light, circular massage using the fingertips rather than any deep muscle massage to avoid doing any damage. This is especially true if the patient has spinal osteoporosis.

Chiropractics and Osteopathy

Chiropractics can be used in the treatment of osteoporosis; however, it is very important that people already suffering from the disease do not undertake any spinal manipulation due to increased fracture risk. It also should not be applied to any area of the body that is directly affected by osteoporosis. Gentle chiropractic techniques can be used safely in order to provide pain relief but it is important that the practitioner is made fully aware of the patient’s medical history before any treatment is commenced.

Naturopathic osteopathy links mental well-being, the body’s structure and its biochemistry and it believes that the body can heal itself if it is given the right support. Naturopathic osteopaths are able to give advice on nutrition, lifestyle and exercise, all of which are key components of managing osteoporosis.


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