Osteoporosis of the Spine + 10 Natural Research-Backed Treatments for Osteoporosis

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Written By

Rhea Dali

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Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Osteoporosis of the spine or anywhere else for that matter does not have to be your “final destination.” Especially with these 10 natural osteoporosis treatments that your doctor never told you about. 

Read on to find more.

“You have osteoporosis.” 

Three words that sounded more like a death sentence at age 23. 

After over 15 years of struggling with disordered eating, the lack of malnutrition took its toll on my body and my bone density scan confirmed it:

Osteoporosis of the spine.

Osteoporosis of the femur.

Osteoporosis of the hip. 

Osteoporosis throughout my entire body.

However, something my doctor never told me were these 3 words:

“Osteoporosis is remissible.” 

Fast forward to age 34—10 years later.

Osteoporosis of the femur and osteoporosis of the hip. Gone.

Osteoporosis of the spine. Improving. 

No medication included. No milk included. 

Yes. Way. 

MEDICATION FOR OSTEOPOROSIS: YAY OR NAY? 

Osteoporosis Of The Spine - Therapist Working With Elderly Patient In Modern Clinic

A big reason why I personally did not choose to go on an osteoporosis medication, like Fosamax, Boniva, Actonel or Reclast is due to the bone brittling side effects of these medications. 

With short-term use, these meds seem like the “panacea”—they are shown to reduce the incidence of new fractures in patients with established osteoporosis, and for those with osteopenia, bisphosphonates are shown to prevent bone loss. However, while the SHORT-TERM use of these medications has shown some benefit, the long-term consequences were not worth it in my opinion (1-10).

Namely, if you ever come off these drugs then the rate of bone deterioration is actively increased. In fact, some studies show once you are off the drugs, bone deterioration picks up so severely that you could experience a broken bone without any physical trauma having caused it.

There are also a number of studies that show osteoporosis medications are associated with an increased risk of heart arrhythmias, including a large study of 1700 women that revealed both current and past users of bisphosphonate medications had a 300% increased risk of abnormal heart arrhythmia and a 575% increased risk of sustained arrhythmia. 

Aside from osteoporosis medication, birth control pills—a hormone replacement treatment—was suggested. In fact, one doctor kicked me out of her office because I chose to NOT take the pill, primarily because I knew about the long-term side effects from working with hundreds of clients struggling with “post birth control syndrome.” Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy may be a good option on a case-by-case basis, under the right supervision and provider, but as for birth control and straight up synthetic hormone therapy, side effects may include:

  • Hormone imbalance
  • Skin breakouts
  • Unwanted hair loss
  • “Clogged” liver and gallbladder detox pathways 
  • Constipation, bloating, SIBO & IBS
  • PCOS
  • Unwanted weight gain or body fat
  • Thyroid problems

No thank-you. 

DAIRY FOR OSTEOPOROSIS: YAY OR NAY? 

“Drink milk” and “increase calcium intake” are common recommendations made by many doctors who only had one class (or even one lecture) of nutrition education during medical school. 

But what about the 70 percent of people who are lactose intolerant? 

And what about the fact that most dairy options available in grocery stores today is NOT REAL DAIRY?

Most dairy people consume is SUPER processed. Dairy pasteurization kills all the beneficial properties of milk, cheese and yogurt, not only stripping all the bone building minerals and often healthy fat for absorbing those minerals, but also making it difficult to digest because it is devoid of enzymes and probiotics.

Even “probiotic enriched yogurt” is often NOT the real thing (and studies show you have to eat 25 times the serving amount to actually get probiotics in)! (Tip: Raw milk, cheese and yogurt from your local farmer is a different story. More on this in a moment). 

And what about the fact that “lack of calcium” in the diet is NOT the leading cause of osteoporosis? 

Thankfully, as a nutritionist with 25 years of personal and clinical experience in learning about how food works in the body, I knew that restoring your bone health without dairy (especially without processed dairy) is possible. And I am here to share that with you too. 

ANY OSTEOPOROSIS TREATMENT ALTERNATIVES?

The good news?  There is hope

No matter if you’re 23, 53 or 73, bone density can be greatly improved and, in my case, even reversed, and it all starts with these 10 natural osteoporosis treatments (that your doctor probably never told you about). 

10 Natural, Research-Backed Treatments – Osteoporosis of the Spine, Femur & Hip That Your Doctor Never Told You About

Before we get to the nitty gritty details to help you with osteoporosis of the spine, osteoporosis of the femur, osteoporosis of the hip and beyond, it’s important to first understand what CAUSES osteoporosis in the first place (that way these recommendations make sense). 

THE TOP CAUSES OF OSTEOPOROSIS OF THE SPINE, FEMUR & HIP

What DOES “cause” osteoporosis? 

  • Lack of minerals
  • Long term medication use (SSRI’s, steroids, birth control pills, ironically, bone building medications as mentioned earlier, etc.; 11)
  • Lack of nutrient-dense foods (real food)
  • Lack of dietary fat (to help absorb your nutrients)
  • Lack of bone-building exercise (especially weights and HIIT)
  • Poor gut health
  • Autoimmune disease (especially gut-related autoimmunity celiac disease, Crohn’s and colitis) 
  • Over-exercise and/or malnutrition
  • A long-term “self devaluation” or “self worth” conflict (figuratively “degrading” yourself can result in bone degradation due to the “gut brain” connection)

Knowing the triggers to osteoporosis gives us insights into what we can do to improve (and even reverse) osteoporosis of the spine, hip, femur and throughout the entire body. 

WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT: 10 NATURAL OSTEOPOROSIS OF THE SPINE TREATMENTS

So without further ado: 10 Natural—research-backed— Osteoporosis of the Spine, Femur & Hip Treatments [Your Doctor Never Told You About]. 

#1. Humic & Fulvic Minerals

Osteoporosis Of The Spine - Core + Osteo

Minerals are like “spark plugs” for the body—aiding in absorption of nutrients and optimizing every single process for keeping you healthy, from digestion to detoxification to energy. 

Minerals make sure your bones actually get nourished with the nutrients you eat and that these nutrients get into your bones, cells and tissues (versus the bloodstream or ending up in your poo). 

Humic and fulvic minerals are especially amazing as they mimic the minerals we would have found in our soil and real food “back in the day” (before our soils became stripped of nutrients). 

Studies show these minerals, along with other minerals (like magnesium, copper, nickel, calcium, potassium, manganese, silicon, stronium, sodium, sulfur, iodine), together enhance bone forming cells (osteoblasts), which can help improve overall bone mass or density (12).  

I love the Core-Osteo formula paired with a daily dose of humic-fulvic minerals in my water. 

#2. Natural Anti-Inflammatory Flavonoids (Curcumin, Quercetin, Resveratrol)

Curcumin, quercetin and resveratrol are a “one-two-three punch” when it comes to kicking inflammation. These three nutrients have been extensively researched for their positive effects and adjuvant treatment for osteoporosis, bone tumors, and periodontitis. These compounds suppress the breakdown of bone and boost metabolic bone activity for bone preservation (13). 

#3. Comfrey, Ashwaghanda & Other Herbs

Not many people think of using herbs to support bone health, but there are many that herbalists use for just this purpose. Common herbs I recommend for bone health may include: comfrey horsetail, boneset, black cohosh, gotu kola and ashwaganda.

All act on the bone cells as well as the protein and mineral matrix that surrounds them, inhibit osteoclast cells that cause bone breakdown and both protect and stimulate the osteoclast bone building cells. You don’t need to take all of them at once, but experimenting with one and sticking with it. 

And, I ALWAYS keep comfrey cream on hand for any injuries–especially stress fractures or broken bones. I recently had a broken stubbed pinky toe that healed in half the time thanks in great part to rubbing comfrey cream on it every day. 

#4. CrossFit, Osteostrong, Resistance Training 

 It’s important for people with osteoporosis to understand that resistance exercise provokes an increase in bone density. Mechanical loading is the primary stimulus for the growth and maintenance of bone density (14). The collagen in your bones is made up of charge carriers. When a bone is mechanically stressed, the charge carriers go to the bone’s surface. When this happens, “piezoelectricity” is produced, which attracts osteoblasts, the cells that build bones.

So…You know exercise is “good” for you, but many of the patients I work with are conflicted about what exercise to do for osteoporosis. 

Some of them love running, spinning and doing tons of cardio (that may contribute to further bone break down). Others haven’t exercised in years and have no idea where to start? 

The primary question then is, what is the safest, most efficient, and most effective way to mechanically load the bones and muscles?

My advice? Start with resistance and start where you’re at!

Common resistance exercise options include:

  • Bodyweight exercises
  • Elastic band workouts
  • Weight lifting with free weights
  • Weight lifting with weight machines
  • Pilates
  • HIIT workouts
  • Plyometrics and gymnastics
  • ARX and Osteostrong

If you’re an exercise fanatic (but your overtraining may be a piece of the osteoporosis puzzle), consider this season of your healing an opportunity to mix it up! Incorporate weights and HIIT style workouts 3 to 4 days per week, and shave down the chronic cardio. As for weight resistance and load, be smart.

For example, I personally love the weight-HIIT blend of a  CrossFit workout, but you will not see me doing kipping handstand pushups, deadlifting 300 pounds or trying to press 120 pounds over my head. I keep the weights reasonable and moveable for my body type. You simply want the “just right” challenge when it comes to weights and exercise. 

If you’re a newbie to fitness, consider hiring a trainer, finding an OsteoStrong center near you or starting with a group fitness weights-based class at your local gym.  Walking is also excellent for all humans—no matter the condition. 

#5. Bone Marrow & Raw Milk

Osteoporosis Of The Spine - Glasses With Vanilla Milk

Most calcium supplements are an oxymoron. Seemingly they should be “good” for your bones, but they actually are associated with calcification of arteries (not bones) because they are not well absorbed (especially since minerals and fatty acids are often left out of the conversation—two necessary things for bone uptake).

Studies on the relationship between calcium and heart disease suggest that, while dietary intake of calcium protects against heart disease, supplemental calcium may increase the risk. One study of 24,000 people, 35 to 64 years old  found that those who used calcium supplements had a 139% greater risk of heart attack during the 11-year study period, while intake of food calcium did not increase the risk (15). 

One exception? Bone marrow (like this and this), providing calcium and phosphorus in natural ratios like found in nature. Raw dairy (as mentioned earlier) is also a great adjunct for the best, absorbable form of calcium (and dairy), low lactose and enzymes if tolerated. 

#6. Amino Acids (Protein)

Protein is a building block of every single tissue in our body. Not just muscles, but bone tissue as well. Quality protein that is. Pasture raised, organic, wild caught meats, poultry, fish and bone broths all provide amino acids no amount of peas, beans, soy or rice can measure up. 

Contrary to popular belief, protein or meat does not “leach”  or strip bones of nutrients. Quite the opposite: Higher protein intake is associated with a lower likelihood of frailty—specifically animal protein. In a study of 440 women aged 65─72 years in the “Osteoporosis Risk” category, after 3 years of eating an increased animal protein diet, only 36 (out of 440) were labeled as “frail” (16). 

Unfortunately, most people today are consuming enough real-food protein to prevent starvation and malnutrition…not promote optimization.  Ideally, aiming for 0.8 g to 1 g of clean protein per pound of healthy body weight is helpful for not only maintaining, but building tissues back on your journey to bone optimization. 

#7. Essential Fatty Acids (& NO Seed Oils) 

Fat is essential for nutrient absorption (just like minerals). Without enough healthy fat in our diet, the food we eat literally doesn’t “stick” around. Some of the top essential fatty acids (for absorbing calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iodine, silicon, boron, manganese, amino acids and beyond) include: ghee, grass-fed butter, extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocado, traditional fats (coconut oil, lard, tallow), pastured egg yolks, and fatty cuts of wild caught fish, beef and poultry (like dark meat chicken and skin on chicken). 

#8. Vitamin D3 & Vitamin K2 

Vitamin D + K2 are the real heroes of bone strength (not calcium). Like essential fatty acids and minerals for absorbing nutrients, these vitamins also help absorb and transport calcium into our bones. 

In fact, Vitamin D3 + K2 therapy trumps calcium supplementation for boosting bone mineral density  in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis of the spine (17). 

#9. Chaste Tree & Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy 

Chaste tree is a long-standing natural hormone balancing and herbal therapy. It is often used for cases of infertility and amenorrhea. Given that osteoporosis is associated with hormone imbalance (namely lower healthy estrogens, and/or lack of estrogen-testosterone balance in men), chaste tree has been studied for benefits in fracture healing and prevention with positive results. 

One study of 51 women found that those who supplemented with chaste tree PLUS magnesium to better uptake it, experienced 80% more “healing” than  chaste tree alone (71.4%), magnesium alone (50.0%) and placebo (53.8%). Results suggest that chaste tree plus magnesium may promote fracture healing (18). 

Another study (19) compared chaste tree therapy to traditional hormone replacement therapy for bone health, finding the chaste tree supplement blew the HRT group out of the water—reaching 87% more bone “re-modeling” support and osteoporosis-protective effect than the estrogen therapy group.

Researchers also observed that the testosterone supplementation group had a decrease in bone health. Though this study was conducted in rat models, the results are promising and warrant further studies and experimentation with this side-effect free therapy (chaste tree). 

Given these results, BHRT may not be necessary However, on a case by case basis, I may refer my patients out to a collaborating doctor I work with for a natural alternative to synthetic hormones. 

#10. A Total Gut Reset 

Osteoporosis Of The Spine - Physical Therapist Working With A Senior Woman

The gut is the gateway to health—osteoporosis included. 

If your gut is not healthy, you won’t be healthy—at least, your health will not be ideal. Your gut is the #1 mechanism that every single nutrient and mineral you consume is metabolized and absorbed. Your gut also controls your immune system and inflammation.

Common gut “comorbidities” associated with osteoporosis include: SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), leaky gut, dysbiosis, gut autoimmunity (celiac, Crohn’s, colitis), GERD (heart burn, low stomach acid, bloating) and gallbladder congestion/insufficiency. 

The good news? A total gut reset can completely transform the trajectory of osteoporosis—as has been my personal experience and what I specialize in today to help patients “heal their root” so they can take their health back into their own hands. 

Reach out today to learn more. 

#11. Bonus: Self Acceptance 

I couldn’t help myself! One huge missing link in the osteoporosis treatment puzzle is the role of SELF ACCEPTANCE. 

According to German New Medicine, osteoporosis is a byproduct of a “self degradation” or “self worth” conflict. 

Technically, osteoporosis is defined as a “disease” in which the bones become porous and weak, which occurs (so we learn) predominantly in women following menopause. 

But…why are postmenopausal women at greater risk? Why does not every postmenopausal woman develop it? Why do some suffer more bone loss than others? Why is in one case the spine affected and in another the hip or the shoulder?

 In German New Medicine, the brain (the actual brain matter) is of fundamental importance. 

At the very moment we suffer a “conflict shock”, it impacts a specific area in the brain leaving a mark (a lesion) that is clearly visible on a brain scan. 

Since each brain relay correlates to a particular organ and/or tissue, the tissue that is controlled by the affected brain area responds by developing a tumor, an ulcer, cell breakdown, or some other functional disturbance. Whether the organ responds to a conflict shock with a growth or a tissue loss depends on the layer of the brain that is affected. 

Analysis of CT brain scans of osteoporosis patients, German New Medicine has found that the bone tissue is always affected when a person experiences a sudden breach of self-esteem or a “self-devaluation conflict”—often triggered by an unfair remark, being put down, failing at work, in sports or in school, or when we feel unsupported. Sickness, aging or the transition to retirement provide infinite situations that can trigger a loss of self-confidence. 

The location always depends on the specific kind of self-devaluation. If we feel devalued as a whole, the entire back (spine) will be affected. If we feel devalued below the waist (often a partner or relationship problem) the pubic bone, leg or hip will suffer the consequences.  A loss of self-worth or self-respect as in “I am a bad partner” or “no one likes me” will affect the right shoulder, assuming the person is right-handed. 

The cool thing? When a persons Psyche senses resolution from a conflict—as in, we become AWARE of the self worth conflicts driving our osteoporosis—the body immediately begins to start healing itself. The brain says “THANKYOU! You see what I am trying to tell you.” This is an evolutionary biological process that occurs in all plants, animals and humans.

Reach out today to learn more about healing from osteoporosis from a functional medicine and German New Medicine perspective. 

 

Resources

  1. Oral bisphosphonate use and the prevalence of osteonecrosis of the jaw. J Am Dent Assoc 2009; 140(1):61-66.
  2. An emerging pattern of subtrochanteric stress fractures: A long-term complication of alendronate therapy. Injury 2008;39:224-231.
  3. Fractures after long-term alendronate therapy. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 2001;86(4):1835.
  4. More on atypical fractures of the femoral diaphysis. NEJM;359:316-8.
  5. Subtrochanteric insufficiency fractures in patients on alendronate therapy. J of bone & Joint Surgery 2006;349-53.
  6. Atypical fractures of the femoral diaphysis in postmenopausal women taking alendronate. NEJM 2008;358:1304-5.
  7. Once-yearly zoledronic acid for treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis. N Engl J Med 2007; 356: 1809-1822.
  8. Alendronate and atrial fibrillation. N Engl J Med 2007; 356:1895-1896.
  9. Compston J. Treatments for osteoporosis— Looking beyond the horizon. N Engl J Med 2007; 356:1878-1879.
  10. Use of Alendronate and Risk of Incident Atrial Fibrillation in Women. Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(8):826-831.
  11. Panday K, Gona A, Humphrey MB. Medication-induced osteoporosis: screening and treatment strategies. Ther Adv Musculoskelet Dis. 2014 Oct;6(5):185-202. doi: 10.1177/1759720X14546350. PMID: 25342997; PMCID: PMC4206646
  12. Labban, NY. Shilajit: A Novel Regulator of Bone/Cartilage Healing.  2013, Indiana University, Graduate Thesis.
  13. Inchingolo, A. D., Inchingolo, A. M., Malcangi, G., Avantario, P., Azzollini, D., Buongiorno, S., Viapiano, F., Campanelli, M., Ciocia, A. M., De Leonardis, N., de Ruvo, E., Ferrara, I., Garofoli, G., Montenegro, V., Netti, A., Palmieri, G., Mancini, A., Patano, A., Piras, F., … Dipalma, G. (2022). Effects of Resveratrol, Curcumin and Quercetin Supplementation on Bone Metabolism-A Systematic Review. Nutrients, 14(17). https://doi-org.uws.idm.oclc.org/10.3390/nu14173519 
  14. Hong AR, Kim SW. Effects of Resistance Exercise on Bone Health. Endocrinol Metab (Seoul). 2018 Dec;33(4):435-444. doi: 10.3803/EnM.2018.33.4.435. PMID: 30513557; PMCID: PMC6279907.
  15. https://heart.bmj.com/content/98/12/920.full
  16. Isanejad, M., Sirola, J., Rikkonen, T., Mursu, J., Kröger, H., Qazi, S. L., Tuppurainen, M., & Erkkilä, A. T. (2020). Higher protein intake is associated with a lower likelihood of frailty among older women, Kuopio OSTPRE-Fracture Prevention Study. European Journal of Nutrition, 59(3), 1181–1189. 
  17. Iwamoto J, Takeda T, Ichimura S. Effect of combined administration of vitamin D3 and vitamin K2 on bone mineral density of the lumbar spine in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. J Orthop Sci. 2000;5(6):546-51. doi: 10.1007/s007760070003. PMID: 11180916.
  18. Eftekhari M, Rostami Z, Emami M, Tabatabaee H. Effects of vitex agnus castus extract and magnesium supplementation, alone and in combination, on osteogenic and angiogenic factors and fracture healing in women with long bone fracture. J Res Med Sci. 2014;19(1):1-7
  19. Sehmisch, S., Boeckhoff, J., Wille, J., Seidlova-Wuttke, D., Rack, T., Tezval, M., Wuttke, W., Stuermer, K. M., & Stuermer, E. K. (2009). Vitex agnus castus as prophylaxis for osteopenia after orchidectomy in rats compared with estradiol and testosterone supplementation. Phytotherapy Research : PTR, 23(6), 851–858. https://doi-org.uws.idm.oclc.org/10.1002/ptr.2711

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