“I’ve just had a Dexa scan and I’ve been told I have osteoporosis”.
This has been told to me many times, by patients over the years
What is osteoporosis?
By the treatment regimen meted out by orthodox medicine, vitamin D and calcium supplements, osteoporisis is put out to be a calcium deficiency disease, resulting in brittle bones. This strategy sounds simple and straightforward, but unfortunately not only does it not work, osteoporosis is not even a calcium deficiency disease.
Osteoporosis is diagnosed by X-Ray or scan and such scans only demonstrate visible bony changes. Effectively, the manifestation of ‘demineralization of bone’ is a photograph of the body (here, the bones) of things that have been there for a long time. Some might say it is an ‘end stage condition’, but such photographs only show ‘work in progress’. It is a bit like you taking photographs of me with your mobile phone over the years, then telling me I have more grey hair than I had 10 years ago.
What they see on a scan or X-Ray is this sort of thing:
Literature showing that lifestyle, nutrition, toxins, and hormonal balance have an impact on bone health and osteoporosis. Also Forbes, telling people to stop taking Vitamin D, is advice that should be ignored outright (https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevensalzberg/2022/08/01/stop-taking-vitamin-d-already/?sh=714eff986617).
Vitamin D is more than just a vitamin; it is more like a hormone with pleiotropic effects on the body, including essential influences on the immune system (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166406/) . Incredibly, people, even in ‘this day and age’ and ‘civilised society’ can be deficient in Vitamin D. Personally I can find this entirely believable. Every year, around spring, I hear people coming on the radio (in my country of Ireland) telling us about the harmful effects of ultraviolet light of skin with the promise of horrible diseases and cancers if you don’t slap on the factor 50.
Prescription drugs and calcium supplements have no significant benefits for treating osteoporosis.
This appears to be a sweeping statement, so it needs to be taken in context.
Orthodox medicine has no core concept of good health.
Orthodox medicine only has parameters of normality and disease. There are a group of drugs classified as bisphosphonates and are used to treat osteoporosis (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34807231/) . It is important to know HOW drugs work.
In bone, well specifically the periosteum of the bone (that is the layer that wraps around the outermost layer of bone). Under the periosteum are types of cells called osteoblasts and osteoclasts. These are specific cells unique to bone and function in remodelling of bone and assisting normal calcium levels in the blood, as bone is also seen as a (solid) reservoir of calcium in the body. Let us take a fracture of a bone as an example. If the bone is broken, there is upset to the flow of blood and other fluids through the matrix of the bone (more on that later). This causes some cells to die. The function of osteoclasts is to cause the body to reabsorb that dead tissue. The function of the osteoblasts is to lay down new, fresh, bone tissue. It also facilitates the remodelling of the body, re-establishing the canals withing the osteons. We take this rather for granted as healing. It is not the only time when these cells are called upon, though.
Throughout the entirety of our lives there is a continuous remodelling of bone. Even the manifestation of osteophytes (bony outgrowths around the periphery of joints with osteoarthritis) is a manifestation of osteoblast and osteoclast activity. They have been ‘told’ to do something, even though it is a manifestation of a ‘disease’ process that can cause us suffering.
Even during our growth years (even in utero) they are busy. All our bones begin as a cartilaginous matrix, effectively just a piece of cartilage, collagen. This begins, mainly, in the shaft of what will become the long bones (the diaphysis). Then the diaphysis begins to receive a blood supply and it starts to ossify – change into bone. This process of ossification isn’t just the rather arbitrary laying down of calcium salts, it is a radical restructuring of what is going to become bone. It is a process where the cartilage is restructured into functional units (osteons). This ultimately results in an incredible structure, a cartilaginous matrix, that is reinforced by calcium.
Looking at this picture of the process of ossification, if we take a small section of the ‘final’ long bone on the far right we will see this:
This is what I mean when I describe the ‘incredible cartilaginous matrix’. The cartilaginous structure has been organised into a network of tubes, concentric interlocked tubes. these tubes run the entire length of the long bone. At the heart of each tube is a canal containing the blood vessels and lymphatics of the bone itself. It is this cartilaginous structure that is reinforced by the calcium salt.
Now we can begin to appreciate what osteoporosis really means. It is much more than just a deficiency of calcium salts. As the calcium salts only reinforce the cartilaginous matrix, it is a deficiency of the cartilaginous matrix as well.
Then this can change our posture as well
If the deficiency of the cartilaginous matrix, and calcium salts, becomes significant, then fractures can occur. If these occur in the vertebrae, they can result in compression fracture in the spine.
Returning to the drugs bisphosphonates, they inhibit the actions of the osteoclasts – they stop the normal metabolism of bone in that they stop the breakdown process. This leaves free range to the osteoblasts – the cells that form bone tissue. Now you may challenge me here, saying, “But isn’t that what I need?”. Remember what I said about any photograph is what it is, a reference at a single point in time. It doesn’t reveal how you go there in the first place. They may well help you in the short term, but in the long term, it doesn’t reverse the process of how you got there. I have also read that bisphosphonates should also be prescribed post-fracture (hence demonstrating osteoporosis), though most websites encourage their use (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osteoporosis/in-depth/osteoporosis-treatment/art-20046869
How we can help the balance of the cartilaginous matrix
Vitamin C is essential for the body to make cartilage (https://athletesanctuary.com.au/collagen-and-vitamin-c-for-repair/) . No, it is not the only thing it does, but we are talking here about osteoporosis, and at the heart of all our bones is the cartilaginous matrix, which is made of collagen. You might argue the toss and ask, “What about amino acids/ What about hyaluronic acid?”. Well, yes. But as I said, we need a good balanced diet and sometimes we CAN be deficient in some things.
Then we also need weight bearing exercises. This point can be challenging, especially to those who are less able. I love reading websites saying, “Yes, need walking, jumping, running etc” What? An 80-year-old doing star jumps?
It is essential to understand that bone has a metabolism, bone is constantly remodelling and that, if there is less activity through bone with age (ignoring hormonal changes), there will be an adaptive loss of bone density. Any activity that challenges bony structure will bring about an adaptive response. This can simply mean daily walking. I saw one orthopaedic surgeon, online, saying that his wife uses a vibroplate. (https://www.generatorathletelab.com/blog/2020/2/27/good-vibrations-benefits-of-the-whole-body-vibration-plate )
A vibroplate is a machine you stand on and which vibrates . This creates a shearing action within the bones. Sone authorities suggest it creates microfractures, but that word in itself can fill people with lumps of fear! Just understand that bodily activity along its length and across it its width will result in an adaptation in the skeleton of the body. They will adapt, creating more collagen, here in the cartilaginous matrix. This cartilaginous matrix will be laid down and then all that will be reinforced by the laying down of calcium salts. (https://greenmedinfo.com/blog/bone-health-and-osteoporosis-orthomolecular-perspective )