An herb used for thousands of years to help fractured bones heal has been found to stimulate bone growth. This can help those with osteoporosis as well as those with a loss of bone underneath the gums as a result of gum disease.
In this article
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis occurs when the body loses bone, makes too little bone, or both. As a result, bones become weakened and are more likely to break. Osteoporosis is often called a “silent disease” because it progresses gradually over many years and often has no symptoms until a bone fractures.
The bones most commonly affected by osteoporosis are the spine, the hips, and the wrists. Fractures in these areas can cause chronic pain, loss of height, and difficulty walking.
Osteoporosis can also cause fractures in other bones, such as the ribs and the bones in the arms and legs.
Osteoporosis often affects women after menopause, but also occurs in men and younger people.
Periodontal bone loss in gums
Bone loss in the gums, also known as periodontal bone loss, is a condition that occurs when the bones that support the teeth begin to deteriorate. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including gum disease, poor dental hygiene, and certain medical conditions.
Periodontal bone loss often begins in the form of gingivitis. Symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen, or bleeding gums. Gingivitis occurs when bacteria build up in plaque, a sticky film that forms on the teeth. Plaque that is not removed by brushing and flossing can harden into tartar, which can increase inflammation in the gums, leading to periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease is the main cause of bone loss in the gums. This is an infection of the gums and the surrounding tissue that supports the teeth. If left untreated, gum disease can cause the gums to become inflamed, infected, and pull away from the teeth.
This can lead to the formation of pockets between the gums and the teeth, which can become infected with bacteria. As this infection progresses, the bacteria can destroy the bone and other supporting structures around the teeth, leading to gum recession and bone loss.
Symptoms of periodontal bone loss include red, swollen, or bleeding gums, loose teeth, bad breath, and gum recession.
What causes gum recession?
Gum recession is a condition in which the gum tissue that surrounds the teeth wears away or pulls back, exposing more of the tooth or the tooth’s root. Gum recession can occur in one or more teeth, and it can affect people of all ages.
Gum recession is often caused by periodontal disease as discussed above. When plaque and tartar build up, they can cause inflammation of the gums, leading to gum recession.
Other factors that can contribute to gum recession include brushing or flossing aggressively, grinding or clenching the teeth, tobacco use, and some medical conditions such as diabetes.
Symptoms of gum recession may include sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, tooth pain, and a visible gap between the gum line and the tooth.
What is Drynaria fortunei?
Drynaria is a type of fern that has been used successfully in traditional and complementary medicine in treating bone fractures and weakened bones for thousands of years. It is also used in traditional medicine in treating bruising and weakened immunity.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the herb is called Gu-Sui-Bu, which translates roughly to “mending broken bones.”
For medicinal use, the roots of the herb are dried and pulverized, and extracts are made.
In TCM, the herb is still used today to tonify the kidneys, strengthen weakened bones and stimulate the healing of bone fractures.
Now modern scientific research has more recently confirmed that Drynaria has the ability to stimulate the process of rebuilding bone material, also referred to as remodeling. Let’s discuss a few of the studies.
Can Drynaria treat osteoporosis and gum bone loss?
Drynaria fortunei was clinically tested with 80 elderly women for one year in a study published in 2022. Half the women were given the Drynaria herb while the other half were given a placebo. The researchers tested the women at the beginning and every three months during the trial.
The researchers found that the Gu-Sui-Bu herb effectively increased bone mass density among the women. The herb also decreased inflammation factors such as NLRP3 inflammasome and boosted levels of SIRT1, which stimulates the repair of DNA.
In addition, the herb increased levels of IL-1β, IL-18, TNF-α, IL-6, IL-8, showing a significant immunity boost.
The researchers concluded:
“Drynaria fortunei effectively improved patients’ BMD and lipid profiles.”
A 2020 study tested Drynaria on bone cells in the laboratory. The research found that Drynaria significantly changed the binding and scaffolding processes between the BMP and BMPR complexes. These are specific to bone remodeling and bone health.
They found Gu-Sui-Bu enhanced bone regeneration in this research.
A 2018 study found that Drynaria modulated two factors involved in bone and tissue healing called matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). More specifically, Drynaria increased the expression of MMP-2 and MMP-14, both involved in bone resorption, bone healing and bone remodeling.
Another 2018 study tested Drynaria root with dogs and found again that the plant medicine “increased regeneration and bone formation” in the dogs.
A 2015 study found that Gu-Sui-Bu contains a compound called naringen, which appears to reduce bone inflammation. This study also found Drynaria successfully treated osteoporosis among animals.
This study also reviewed other research on the herbal medicine:
“In previous studies, Drynaria has been demonstrated to have inhibitory effects on inflammatory responses and bone destruction and exert anabolic effects on bone, has been widely used in the clinical treatment.”
Other studies on animals have confirmed this same finding, that Drynaria serves to improve bone growth as well as helps protect bones from bone loss.
There is an apparent side effect of , however. Studies have shown the plant medicine can significantly boost memory and cognitive scores. And a 2020 human clinical study of 31 older adults found a combination of Eleutherococcus senticosus and Drynaria significantly improved memory and recall abilities in the adults.
What makes Gu-Sui-Bu work?
Like most plant medicines, Drynaria fortunei contains a considerable number of compounds, including flavonoids, tannins, saponins, and polysaccharides. Some of the more notable active compounds found in Drynaria include:
- caffeic acid
- protocatechuic acid
Supplements with Drynaria can be readily found, either in tincture form or in granule extracts.
Lu L, Wang Z, Zhang H, Liu T, Fang H. Drynaria fortunei improves lipid profiles of elderly patients with postmenopausal osteoporosis via regulation of Notch1-NLRP3 inflammasome-mediated inflammation. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2022 Feb;38(2):176-180. doi: 10.1080/09513590.2021.2015760.
Dong GC, Ma TY, Li CH, Chi CY, Su CM, Huang CL, Wang YH, Lee TM. A study of Drynaria fortunei in modulation of BMP–2 signalling by bone tissue engineering. Turk J Med Sci. 2020 Aug 26;50(5):1444-1453. doi: 10.3906/sag-2001-148.
Huang ST, Chang CC, Pang JS, Huang HS, Chou SC, Kao MC, You HL. Drynaria fortunei Promoted Angiogenesis Associated With Modified MMP-2/TIMP-2 Balance and Activation of VEGF Ligand/Receptors Expression. Front Pharmacol. 2018 Sep 21;9:979. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2018.00979.
Afifi MM, Kotry GS, El-Kimary GI, Youssef HA. Immunohistopathologic evaluation of Drynaria fortunei rhizome extract in the management of Class II furcation defects in a canine model. J Periodontol. 2018 Nov;89(11):1362-1371. doi: 10.1002/JPER.17-0655.
Yin FM, Xiao LB, Zhang Y. Research progress on Drynaria fortunei naringin on inflammation and bone activity. Zhongguo Gu Shang. 2015 Feb;28(2):182-6.
Wong KC, Pang WY, Wang XL, Mok SK, Lai WP, Chow HK, Leung PC, Yao XS, Wong MS. Drynaria fortunei-derived total flavonoid fraction and isolated compounds exert oestrogen-like protective effects in bone. Br J Nutr. 2013 Aug 28;110(3):475-85. doi: 10.1017/S0007114512005405.
Tohda C, Matsui M, Inada Y, Yang X, Kuboyama T, Kimbara Y, Watari H. Combined Treatment with Two Water Extracts of Eleutherococcus senticosus Leaf and Rhizome of Drynaria fortunei Enhances Cognitive Function: A Placebo-Controlled, Randomized, Double-Blind Study in Healthy Adults. Nutrients. 2020 Jan 23;12(2):303. doi: 10.3390/nu12020303.