Osteoporosis Causes and Treatment: What you Need to Know

by Dr. Melissa Carr, Dr. TCM

July 12, 2019

Did you know that osteoporosis affects almost 1.4 million Canadians? Believe it or not, fractures from this condition are more common than heart attacks, strokes, and breast cancer combined.

That’s a big deal because about 28% of women and 37% of men who suffer a hip fracture die within the following year.

In this article, we’ll explore what osteoporosis is and what you can do to build bone strength and reduce the chance of bone fractures.

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis—literally meaning “porous bone”—is a disease characterized by a loss of bone mass and density, leaving bones brittle, weak, and more prone to fractures. Patients may also experience height loss or curvature of the spine. Osteoporosis can affect a variety of bones in the body, including the hip, spine, wrist, ribs, pelvis, and upper arm.

Osteoporosis: the silent disease

Osteoporosis can sneak up on you. Known as the “silent thief,” no one can feel their bones weakening, so it is often not until a fracture occurs when a proper diagnosis is made. And because many with a spine fracture don’t even know about it—66% are painless—height loss is another sign that the bones may be weakening.

It’s important not to wait until a bone breaks before diagnosing osteoporosis. If you are over the age of 50, have your height measured annually. Bone density tests can be done to determine an osteoporosis diagnosis. It can also find out if someone has osteopenia, a loss of bone density that is important to address so it doesn’t progress to osteoporosis.

What are the causes of osteoporosis?

There is no single cause for osteoporosis. Inactivity, aging, smoking, alcohol consumption, hormonal changes, and poor dietary habits can all contribute to bone loss.

Long-term use of certain medications can also affect your bones, such as antiseizure medicines, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and steroids (glucocorticoids or corticosteroids).

Additionally, there are a host of diseases and conditions that can lead to bone loss, including cancer, autoimmune, digestive, blood, neurological, and hormonal disorders. It’s important to discuss the possibility of osteoporosis with your healthcare provider if you have of these disorders.

What are the ways to build bone health?

Fortunately, osteoporosis is a preventable disease. Engaging in weight-bearing exercises like lifting weights, jumping rope, jogging, hiking, and climbing stairs can help to maintain healthy bone mass.

Healthy diet choices can also help stave off osteoporosis. Upping your intake of calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin D, and protein can help you avoid bone weakness.

Japanese red reishi mushrooms

Osteoporosis is most common for menopausal women, with at least 1 in 3 women experiencing a bone fracture due to osteoporosis in their lifetime. For men, the numbers are 1 in 5.

The gender differential is because women generally have lighter, thinner bones than men to start with. In addition, women tend to live longer, and the rate of bone breakdown starts to surpass bone building by age 40. This means that we have to make efforts to slow the rate of bone loss as we age. In addition, estrogen helps to maintain bone density, so menopause or any time of low hormone levels or no or infrequent menstrual periods can accelerate the progression toward osteoporosis.

Mikei and Reishi cultivationAnimal studies of Ganoderma lucidum—reishi mushroom—have shown improvement in bone density in females with bone loss. They have demonstrated that reishi both supported estrogen activity (without a substantial effect on the uterus) and improved absorption of minerals related to bone health, such as iron, calcium, and phosphorus.

Your bones support you. Isn’t it time you made sure to support your bones?

Dr. Melissa Carr is a registered Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine with a B.Sc. in Kinesiology. In practice since 2001, Dr. Carr has a passion for sharing health information. She has been a nutrition instructor and a health consultant, lecturer, and writer for 24 Hours Vancouver newspaper, Fraser Health Authority, UBC, and the David Suzuki Foundation, amongst others. www.activetcm.com


> Back to Health Articles

All information on this site is provided for informational or educational purposes only. Information presented here is not intended to substitute the advice provided to you by your physician or healthcare practitioner. You should not use any information contained in our site to self-diagnose or personally treat any medical condition or disease. If you have or suspect you have a medical condition, you are urged to contact your healthcare practitioner.

Taking natural health supplements should be a decision made by the individual themselves and based on personal research. It is recommended for all individuals to consult their healthcare practitioner prior to starting any new medication. Individuals should not discontinue current medication without first consulting their doctor.

Mikei respects the importance of each individual's right to privacy. Your personal information will not be sold, shared, or disclosed to any third party members, except for purposes which facilitate Mikei's business operations or to which you have expressly consented. Only personal information that has been voluntarily supplied by you through your correspondence or by completing and submitting one of the forms contained on this site will be collected. By providing personal information to Mikei, you consent that we may collect, use, and disclose your personal information in accordance with this Privacy Policy. We may also disclose personal information to third member parties as is required or permitted by law.