Physiology of Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis literally means “porous bone”. Bone, as we all know, is one of the hardest substances in the body made up of cells and minerals. Bones become porous when its density decreases.

Females are more prone to this health condition when compared to males.

Causes of Osteoporosis

  • The elderly population are at greater risk than young adults.
  • Risk increases after mid 30’s in both male and female; especially after menopause in females. Low oestrogen levels in the body, decrease the potency of the bone cells to renew and regenerate
  • Genetic predisposition contribute to osteoporosis
  • Alcohol intake, smoking, poor diet and malabsorption syndromes contribute to the causative factors
  • Diseases such as hyperthyroidism, COPD, chronic kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Cushing’s disease and hyperparathyroidism can lead to porous bones
  • Medications such as corticosteroids, anticoagulants, proton pump inhibitors, antidepressants, diuretics, immunosuppressant, chemotherapeutic agents and glucocorticoids cause osteoporosis

Symptoms of Osteoporosis

  • Bones breaks at unlikely circumstances, i.e. fracture of bones such as the vertebra (spine), hip bone, shoulder and wrist are more common due to osteoporosis.
  • Chronic bone pain, fatigue, joint pain and limited mobility
  • Stooped posture due to multiple vertebral fractures
  • Loss of height

Treatment of Osteoporosis in Allopathy

The treatment aims at prevention of progression of the disease, reduce morbidly and prevent fractures. Diagnosis can be made by conventional radiography and bone mineral density index.

Medications such as bisphosphonates, calcitonin, estrogen agonist and parathyroid hormone are given to stimulate bone formation thus strengthening the bone, reducing the chances of possible fracture and reducing morbidity.

Ayurveda and Osteoporosis

Bone tissue (Asthi Dhatu) is one of the fifth dathus (tissue) out of the seven dhatus in the body. According to Ayurveda osteoporosis is caused due to vitiation of vata dosha. Prevention is always better than cure, hence balancing the vata dosha is the main aim in treating osteoporosis.

Treatment of Osteoporosis in Ayurveda

A multipronged strategy is used in treating osteoporosis in Ayurveda. A good detox is carried out to balance the doshas, diet and nutrition is modified and lifestyle changes are made to minimize risk of fractures.

Ayurvedic Therapies for Osteoporosis

Snigdha Ushna basti: In this enema therapy  warm oil is used to cleanse the large intestine which is the main area for vata accumulation and beneficial in better absorption of nutrients from the colon. Defective absorption of calcium could be one of the reasons for osteoporosis

Snehana: The oral administration of oil or ghee and external oil massage is very beneficial in treating vata imbalance. This increases blood circulation to the tissues and relaxes the sore joints and muscles relieving in pain and fatigue caused due to osteoporosis.

Swedana: Medicated oil massages followed by sweating therapy. This therapy warms the body treating vata imbalance and increases blood circulation to the tissues.

Sukhasheelata: It includes comforting the patient and giving him adequate rest which is essential for treating vata imbalance. This relaxes the body and mind.

Ayurvedic Diet for Osteoporosis

  • Consume food dominated by sweet taste as these pacify vata dosha.
  • Rice, amaranth grain, milk, butter, ghee, brown sugar, fresh fruits, beetroot, carrot, sweet potato, lady’s finger and butter fruit, are known to pacify vata
  • Milk with saffron and dates are extremely potent in reversing the effects of osteoporosis
  • Spices such cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, cloves and black pepper can be used in cooking as they are bone building and vata pacifying
  • Most importantly eat small meals, sit down to eat, chew and enjoy the meal. This practice not only nourishes the body but the soul as well.

Lifestyle modifications

  • Exercise, yoga and pranayama are very effective in dealing with osteoporosis and its symptoms
  • Expose yourself to the early morning sun, this is a natural way to prevent and deal with osteoporosis
  • Avoid alcohol and smoking as these increases the free radical damage in the body
  • Have a regular sleep and wake up cycle, avoid sleeping in the day time as this aggravates vata dosha.

Ayurvedic herbs

Ashwagandha (Indian ginseng), Dadima (pomegranate) and Guduchi (Tinospora) have antiosteoporotic and phytoestrogenic properties which strengthen the bone

Ashwagandha, Shatavari (wild asparagus), Triphala, Bhringraj (false daisy), Brahmi and Amalaki (Indian gooseberry) are herbs which maintain a good hormonal balance and promote bone formation.

Ashwagandha powder when taken with milk, is an excellent bone tonic.

Yoga and Pranayama

Practising yoga asanas significantly reduce joint stiffness, pain and increase mobility in persons suffering from osteoporosis. Padangusthasana (big toe pose), Adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog pose), uttanasana (standing forward bend), utthita hasta padangustasana (extended hand to big toe pose), setu bandha sarvangasana (bridge pose), virabhadrasana (warrior pose II) and ardha chandrasana (half moon pose) are useful if practices regularly to combat morbidity caused due to osteoporosis.

Pranayama such as Bhramari (humming bee breathing), Anulom Vilom, Bhastrika, and Bhramari pranayama induces a relaxation response, reduce muscle tension, open up the chest and lungs increases oxygenation in the body, reduces oxidative stress and free radical damage; promotes regeneration of the body tissues including bones and thus reduces pain.

Naturopathy and Osteoporosis

We are living in a world where demineralised soil, low physical activity, overly processed food and a little exposure to the sun has become a norm. This stereotype has to be changed to provide our body with basic essential nutrition in order to prevent osteoporosis.

Treatment of Osteoporosis in Naturopathy

Naturopathy believes in increasing the power of digestion and absorption of nutrition as a remedy for osteoporosis. It also works at balancing the hormones. As a first step  thorough detox of the digestive system is carried out to rid the body of toxins and to rejuvenate the digestive system.


Colon cleansing is essential in the detox program for osteoporosis; this is done with drinking 1 liter of water with a teaspoon of castor oil or coconut oil, followed by ginger tea with a teaspoon of honey and lemon juice. Ginger is extremely beneficial to treat ailments pertaining to the bone; honey is rich in antioxidants; ginger, honey and lemon juice have anti-inflammatory properties necessary to combat symptoms of osteoporosis.

Diet Modification

  • Consume fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably farm grown and organic. It is important to consume an healthy amount of Vitamin K found in green leafy vegetables along with calcium and magnesium.
  • White flour, refined sugar and processed food please the tongue but not the body. They are washed off their nutrients and loaded with chemicals and preservatives which promote osteoporosis
  • Consume alkalising diet consisting of nuts, seeds, fruits, root crop and pulses. Avoid heavy protein such as animal protein, trans fats and refined sugars as these changes the biochemistry in the body and give rise to acidosis which in turn lead to calcium loss.
  • Omega 3 fatty acid found in fish, nuts and flax seeds is extremely beneficial in treating osteoporosis

Lifestyle modifications

  • Any form of exercise can help halt bone loss by building muscles .  Strength training can build bone significantly as it helps to build muscles.
  • Walking and yoga are extremely beneficial for persons suffering from osteoporosis as they reduce stiffness and increase mobility of the limbs.
  • Chronic stress takes a toll on health. Cortisol, a major stress hormone is extremely detrimental to the bone if elevated. Hence stress management is very essential.
  • Indulge in physical therapy such as a massage which relaxes the body and calms the mind.
  • Eat healthy, rest well and stay hydrated.

Botanical Herbs

Astragalus membranaceus, Dioscorea batatas, Drynaria baronii, Lycium Chinense, Epimedium leptorrhizum, Panax ginseng and Sambucus nigra are herbs used in the treatment of osteoporosis are they contain calcium along with saponins, flavonoids and amino acids which are building blocks in bone formation, apart from this they are anti-inflammatory and also improve general vitality

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