Herbal Medicine for Osteoporosis
Hopefully you already know that calcium supplementation does not in itself boost bone mineral density. Recent research confirms, however, that a combination of herbs used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, does boost bone mineral density and treat people with osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a condition where there is a dramatic loss of bone mineral density. This will often happen to women during their menopausal years, in response to the body’s adjustment to estrogen production. But a loss of bone mineral density can occur for anyone as we age. It can also occur for younger people under certain conditions, notably those relating to a reduction of weight-bearing exercise and/or dietary deficiencies.
Yes, calcium, even in combination with magnesium, has faced dubious results in the research. Vitamin D has shown positive results, especially when the vitamin D is produced through sunshine exposure. But bone mineral density is not like making cement blocks out of calcium as some might suppose.
Rather, increasing bone mineral density is about improving bone metabolism. The bones are not pillars of calcium. They are more like organs involved in an exchange of compounds and responding to the motion and stresses of the human body.
This means bone health is significantly effected by our diet. We proved this with research showing that plums increase bone mineral density.
But when we find our bone mineral density falling – which often happens as we age – it is time to reach for serious medicine.
Herbal combination increases bone mineral density
Herbs are serious medicine. Some two-thirds of our pharmaceuticals are based upon compounds originally found in herbs. Yet pharmaceuticals will typically be only one herbal compound. A single medicinal herb can contain hundreds of pharmacologically active compounds.
The trick is that nature has arranged these complex array of compounds in such a way that individual herbs – or a set of herbs in combination – can help the body significantly heal or reverse a condition.
This is precisely what doctors proved in a 2017 study of 94 patients diagnosed with osteoporosis. Doctors tested the 94 patients at the First People’s Hospital of Shangqiu in China.
The researchers tested each patient over a 90-day period. They split the patients into two groups of 47 patients. One group received the typical conventional medical treatment for osteoporosis. The other group received a daily dose of an herbal combination called Xianling Gubao.
The researchers tested the bone mineral density for each patient before and every thirty days during the treatment period. They tested their bone mineral density in the bones of the vertebrae. This is a more controlled way to test bone density.
They also tested each patient’s levels of osteocalcin and cross-linked N-telopeptide of type 1 collagen – also called CTX-1.
The researchers found that the group treated with the herbal combination had significant improvement in bone mineral density. They also had significantly increased osteocalcin and CTX-1 levels.
These indicate that the herbal combination improved the patient’s bone metabolism.
The herbal treatment was 91.5 percent effective for improving bone mineral density among the patients.
The researchers concluded:
“The Xianling Gubao Capsule possesses a therapeutic effect for bone mineral density in osteoporosis patients, which can effectively increase their bone mineral density, improve their bone metabolism, and control the loss of bone mass, therefore, can be used in clinical promotion and application.”
Not the first study to prove bone density boosted
This is not the first study proving this herbal combination treats osteoporosis. A 2009 study from China’s First Affiliated Hospital of Wenzhou Medical College tested 50 patients with osteoporosis produced by glucocorticoids.
Again, the researchers divided the patients into two groups. One group took osteocalcin and the other group took the Xianling Gubao combination. Again, the researchers found the herbal treatment significantly treated the osteoporosis.
In another study reported in 2008, researchers tested osteoporosis 85 patients, this time for two years. One group of 43 patients took the Xianling Gubao combination. The other 42 patients took a placebo. The researchers found that bone density improved by 2.5 percent after 12 months and 3.2 percent after 24 months.
These are significant differences, noting that during a one or two year period, osteoporosis patients will have net losses in bone mineral density. This means their effective losses were being reversed.
What is Xianling Gubao Capsule?
The name of the herbal combination in Traditional Chinese Medicine is Xian Ling Gu Bao Jiao Nang – or Xianling Gubao Jiaonang. When it is combined in a formulation, it is also called the Xian Ling Gu Bao Capsule – or just Xianling Gubao.
The herbal formulation contains the following herbs:
• Horny Goat Weed (Epimedium grandiflorum) also called Herba Epimedii (Yin Yang Huo) in Chinese Medicine
• Teasel Root (Dipsacus fullonum) also called Himalayan Teasel Root (Xu Duan)
• Malaytea Scurfpea Fruit (Psoralea corylifolia L.) also called Fructus Psoraleae (Bu Gu Zhi)
Each of these three herbs has a rich healing tradition for different conditions.
Horny goat weed has been used for estrogen imbalance and may improve androgen imbalances.
Teasel root has been used for strengthening bones, promoting circulation and for sore back and knees.
Psoralea is a black fruit used for thousands of years for kidney issues, back pain and knee pain.
Together, these three potent herbs have proven effects of improving bone mineral density. And the research studies found no negative side effects among the patients.
Instead, they noticed a host of positive side effects.
Yes, Mother Nature takes care of her own.
Wu ZH, Zhu X, Xu CK, Chen YJ, Zhang L, Zhang CL. Effect of Xianling Gubao capsules on bone mineral density in osteoporosis patients. J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2017 Apr-Jun;31(2):359-363.
Wu JJ, Wen LP, Wu YG, Shen Q, Han Y. Effects of Xianling Gubao capsules for the treatment of bone loss induced by glucocorticoid. Zhongguo Gu Shang. 2009 Mar;22(3):193-5.
Geng JL, Dai Y, Yao ZH, Qin ZF, Wang XL, Qin L, Yao XS. Metabolites profile of Xian-Ling-Gu-Bao capsule, a traditional Chinese medicine prescription, in rats by ultra performance liquid chromatography coupled with quadrupole time-of-flight tandem mass spectrometry analysis. J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2014 Aug 5;96:90-103. doi: 10.1016/j.jpba.2014.03.024.
Form 20-F. Tongjitang Chinese Medicines Company. Filed in 2008.
Bensky D, Gable A, Kaptchuk T (transl.). Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica. Seattle: Eastland Press, 1986.