Learn why holistic health is important for osteoporosis.
The Whole-Body Approach to Osteoporosis (New Harbinger Publications, 2008) by R. Keith McCormick will help you address and prevent osteoporosis. While medication can sometimes help, it won't fully address the underlying causes of your osteoporosis or osteopenia. To restore bone health, you'll need a targeted program combining the best bone-building strategies from traditional and holistic medicine.
Osteoporosis is a chronic disorder. It’s not a condition you can fix by swallowing a daily or weekly pill, or even by a yearly intravenous infusion of an extremely powerful bone-specific medication. Unfortunately, in our country the same approach used to treat acute conditions is also used with chronic disorders such as osteoporosis. For example, in crisis care management, the doctor visually examines a patient, possibly scrapes for a culture or analyzes the patient’s blood, and then prescribes a pill or a shot to reduce the symptoms. The underlying physiological vulnerability is usually never questioned — let alone assessed. The patient feels better, the crisis is satisfactorily averted, and yet the nutrient deficiency or physiological dysfunction that might eventually damage his or her long-term health is not addressed and stays unchanged.
Pharmaceuticals for osteoporosis can be extremely valuable, but they are overprescribed and almost never used as they should be — as an adjunct to a solid therapeutic protocol based on nutrition and lifestyle. To help someone with a chronic condition, that person’s whole physiology must be assessed and a plan made to restore their failing biological functions. And it can be done. Optimal skeletal health can be achieved through the use of nutrition and exercise. In such a program, medications are best used to bail out the person from a bad situation.
Osteoporosis is not just the weakening of bones; it is a weakening of the body’s entire physiology. To put it more accurately, a weakened physiology leads to bone loss and requires a broader evaluation than just an assessment of bone. When you have a chronic disease, you have to treat your whole body.
Your bones not only provide you with structural support, they also serve as storage vessels for the key minerals calcium and phosphorous. When you break apart a chicken bone, you see the central cavity is filled with fatty marrow. This is where the white blood cells of the immune system
and the oxygen-carrying red blood cells are formed. Keeping your skeleton healthy is important both to prevent fractures and to maintain your bone marrow’s vigorous cell production.
The statistics for poor bone health are daunting. Over 10 million Americans have been diagnosed with osteoporosis. As the word “osteoporosis” suggests, this metabolic disease is characterized by porous, weakened bone with a low mass and a deterioration of its microarchitecture. This reduction in both quantity and quality is caused by nutrient deficiency or a systemic dysfunction that lead to fragility and a greater risk for fracture. Amazingly, 30 to 50 percent of women and 13 to 30 percent of men will sustain an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime (Chrischilles et al. 1991).
Most of these fractures occur in the spine (vertebrae), forearm (radius), or hip (femur). Spinal fractures are extremely common and can lead to chronic pain and a disfiguring forward-stooped posture that reduces the individual’s heart and lung capacity. Hip fractures often lead to long-term disability and, due to complications, even death. Each year 1.5 million people in the United States sustain an osteoporosis-related fracture (Riggs and Melton 1995). But it does not have to be this way.
It is clear that, for some, osteoporosis treatment should have begun with prevention. Years of suboptimal nutrition and a failure to reach peak bone mass during childhood and early adulthood (the time when bone is genetically programmed to reach its maximum mineral content and strength) will increase a person’s risk for fracture later in life. But not all osteoporosis is the result of poor nutrition, and prevention is not always possible. Osteoporosis can sneak up on anyone, seemingly coming from out of nowhere.
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