Chinese Medicine and Osteoporosis

Chinese herbal medicines have been used to treat a wide range of diseases for thousands of years. Most westerners may not know this, but in China, herbal medicine is even more widely used that acupuncture! One all too common disease in modern times is osteoporosis, or a gradual weakening of bone density that can potentially lead to fractures. While there are several drugs on the market that treat osteoporosis, recently doctors have become aware that long-term use of certain medications has significant side effects. For example, in 2008 researchers in Singapore started linking long-term Fosamax use with certain non-traumatic fractures (in other words, taking the drug increased risk of some fractures).

Chinese herbal medicines have also been used to treat disorders of the skeletal system including weakening of bone density. This month researchers in Japan published a paper exploring the effects of herbal medicines on osteoporosis. In their study, the Japanese scientists examined three commonly used Chinese herbs and found that they had several beneficial effects on bone cells, including the inhibition of osteoclast proliferation. In other words, they lowered the activity of those cells in the body that are responsible for bone breakdown. While this research is still very academic, it sheds light on the effects these herbal medicines have on promoting healthy bone without the same risks as drug therapy. Click here to read the original article.