hand xray osteoporosis acupuncture articleOsteoporosis, which means “porous bones”, is a condition of the weakening and thinning of portions or the entire skeletal system. It is the cause of approximately 1.5 million fractures per year and affects about ten million Americans, mostly over the age of sixty-five, with eighty percent being women. In a study out of the Rehabilitation Studies Unit, University of Sydney

Department of Geriatric Medicine, Gosford Hospital Australia (titled ‘An Evidence-Based Review of Acupuncture in Osteoporosis and Fracture-Related Pain’), acupuncture was shown to “improve bone formation and turnover markers, bone structure and density and increase in estradiol levels in post-menopausal women”.

The Bone Loss Process
It is fairly unknown what causes osteoporosis however the bone loss process is well understood. Up until about the mid-twenties, human bone continuously shreds and replaces itself. As the system grows into its mid-thirties, bone breakdown (calcium loss) out paces its buildup causing it to thin. Estrogen (a prominent female hormone although also produced by males) has been shown to assist calcium in remaining in the bones. Most women rapidly lose estrogen during menopause which, over the next five to seven years afterwards creates a just as rapid postmenopausal increase in bone loss. After this time period the weakening process slows down. Therefore women are more affected during the bone loss process. Here is a quick breakdown of some statistical risks:

  • A thin or small framed skeleton
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Excessive liquor intake
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Asian and Caucasian Women
  • Ovaries removed before 40 years of age
  • Family history
  • Disease such as Cushing’s syndrome, overactive thyroid/parathyroid and kidney illness
  • Conventional drugs such as glucocorticoids for rheumatoid arthritis and asthma or anti-seizure medication

Acupuncture: Re-balancing Bone Production, Bone Loss and Kidney Jing
Administering acupuncture for the effects or prevention of osteoporosis allows the body to re-adjust its stagnant energy back to optimal flow. This re-adjustment was documented in another study also out of Australia from the School of Health Sciences, Victoria University Melbourne City documenting the use of 3 acupuncture points after an eight month study. Acupuncture of points KID 3, SP 6 and ST 36 tended to increase BUA [Broadband ultrasound attenuation, a measure of bone structure and density] 8.8%. The balance between bone formation and resorption improved showing OSTN [osteocalcin, a bio-marker of bone formation] increased 30.9% which indicates an improvement in bone formation and D-PYR [doxypyridinoline, bone resorption markers found in urine evaluated as parameters of bone metabolism] was reduced by 18.5%, indicating a decrease in bone absorption

According to Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM), it is often the result of weak kidney jing (chee – life energy) that can alert a capable acupuncturist to the proper meridian points to strengthen the system. For instance, if someone were to present with bad teeth, thinning hair, brittle nails and low back pain, these are all indications of weak kidney jing. In the classic text, Neijing Suwen, it is stated that “The kidney stores the qi of the bones and the marrow…The kidney is the master of physical strength; it produces exquisite movements/actions.” Deficiency of kidney jing will bring about brittle bones and a listless spirit.

Strengthening the kidney through acupuncture is the first line of defense for battling or preventing osteoporosis. By targeting a variety of specific points according to each unique presentation, acupuncture attempts to stimulate bone tissue growth as well as prevent the decrease of bone density. Additional points can strengthen muscle tissue as well so as to help support the skeletal system especially if it has been struggling with symptoms of osteoporosis.

Adding to Acupuncture for Osteoporosis Relief
Complimenting acupuncture therapy for osteoporosis is an assortment of remedies that a naturopathic doctor may incorporate. Some of these remedies include the following:

Clinical Nutrition and Nutraceutical Supplementation
There are many foods that can assist in healing or alleviating the struggles associated with osteoporosis. Many of these foods and supplements can enhance calcium absorption as well as reduce inflammation that can cause debilitating pain as a result of this condition. Increasing these foods under the watchful eye of a naturopathic doctor could help considerably.

  • Green leafy vegetables (kale, dandelion, collard, turnip)
  • Salmon, tuna, sardines and halibut
  • Raw unsalted nuts and seeds, particularly sesame and flax
  • Garlic, onions, eggs and avocado
  • Vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, Strontium citrate and K-2

These foods may interfere with calcium absorption:

  • Excessive salt and sugar
  • Nicotine
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Red meat
  • Dairy
  • Oxalic acid found in spinach, rhubarb, beet greens, almonds and chard

Not Just Muscles: Work the Bones with Exercise
Many people suffering with osteoporosis assume that exercising will be difficult and not beneficial. On the contrary, as the body lifts weights, runs, walks, bikes, etc. the periosteum which is the covering around the bone that allows muscle to attach to it, stimulates bone health when stretched. It is imperative to check with a naturopathic doctor before embarking on an exercise program, especially when struggling with osteoporosis. Types of movement that may be recommended include Tai Chi, low impact aerobics, joint flexibility such as stretching and light weight lifting.

Herbs as Botanical Medicine for Osteoporosis
There are also a variety of herbs that may be considered by a naturopathic doctor to remedy or prevent osteoporosis. Some of these herbs include drynaria root to nourish the kidneys and strengthen the bones and red clover to help bones reproduce tissue.

Acupuncture for osteoporosis along with complimentary remedies can be an essential tool in preventing or reducing the effects of osteoporosis. At Integrative Med Solutions, we will design an acupuncture and naturopathic treatment program that works for you.  In many cases, insurance covers portions of the acupuncture treatment. Allow us to support you to achieve optimal health.  To make an appointment or find out more about how acupuncture and naturopathic medicine can benefit you, please call our office at 914.337.2980 or click here to schedule an online appointment.

*Please CLICK HERE to see a current list of In-Network Insurance Companies for Acupuncture that we participate with as well as insurance companies that commonly have Out-of-Network benefits. Please call 914.337.2980 or securely email info@intmedsolutions.com to verify your specific benefits. If you are emailing, please include your full name, date of birth and insurance identification card number.

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