Currently the allopathic or molecular approach to osteopenia/osteoporosis is pharmaceutically driven relying on a class of drugs called bisphosphonates (e.g. Fosamax) to slow breakdown of bone in the condition caused naturally by osteoclasts. Fosamax acts molecularly by causing the osteoclasts to die so that these natural bone breakdown cells cannot do their job.
As is the case with all pharma the bisphosphonates carry potential serious side effects that can be irreversible and there are now reports of people with spontaneous fractures while on the drug.
Researchers have now found that this drug actually causes bones to weaken and crumble.
Since all is not happy in the world of Pharma (multiple class action lawsuits since Merck introduced Fosamax) today’s medical health consumer is obviously looking for an alternative therapy.
Energy Science of Ayurveda Approach
Ayurveda gives us a vocabulary to talk about our mind/body as energy fields. The Vata-Pitta-Kapha (VPK) paradigm is the most obvious but when talking about the health of the bones of the body we are actually discussing asthi dhatu. The agni of asthi dhatu resides in the asthi dhara kala which from an allopathic or matter science anatomical view is the periosteum.
Ayurveda states that the periosteum is where the action is when it comes to capturing nutrients and beginning the production of new bone transforming asthayi (bone precursors such as calcium and magnesium) to sthayi dhatu (mature bone). Interestingly there is a relationship of the asthi dhara kala with the colon mucous membrane.
From a matter science point of view while there are mineral receptors along the distal small bowel, the greatest collection reside in the colon. This explains this fundamental Ayurvedic relationship between asthi dhara kala and the colon.
Ayurveda also helps us understand the relationship of osteopenia and osteoporosis.
The agni is low in both but in osteopenia there is only a qualitative change in the dhatu or asthi sroto dusthi manifested at the level of sthana samshraya stage of samprapti. In full blown osteoporosis the BMD (bone mineral density) is 2.5 standard deviations below the mean for a general population and exhibits vyakti and bheda stage samprapti where the rough and clear qualities cause cracking due to the inherent weakness of the dhatu.
Promoting Bone Health in Early Disease
The energy science of Ayuveda states that we can correct the imbalances in asthi dhatu by replenishing its nutrients but we must also pay attention to the asthi agni in its dhara kala. We have discussed the colon’s (purisha vaha srota) relationship to asthi dhatu and so the first step in dealing with bone disease is to manage the poor colonic health.
Such lifestyle behaviors as eating according to one’s energy constitutional makeup, avoiding incompatible food combinations, doing things that improve the agni of the gut all can bring about improved gut and colon health.
Of course these lifestyle changes take time to have their impact on the GI health and when someone presents with bone pain and significant advanced osteoporosis these measures are not enough. It’s like the adage says, “Day late, dollar short”. In other words the disease when found late is always much more severe than we think.
For severe cases of osteopenia and osteoporosis allopathic medicine offers very little since the above Pharma solution is frankly dangerous. But the energy science of Ayurveda has some sound anatomical and physiological solutions.
Bone Broth and Advanced Bone Disease
When asthi dhatu is in trouble and simple lifestyle measures are not going to be enough or the disease is recalcitrant to these therapies then more advanced measures are necessary.
Ayurvedic researchers and the Department of Orthopedics at Gujarat University published a small pilot study that is very exciting in this field.
They used a kala bone broth basti schedule (16 consecutive days) and 3 months of Cissus quadrangularis 500mg three times a day. They noticed among other remarkable findings that the BMD t-score effect improved by a P value of <0.001. This is a remarkable response in such a short period of time considering that it takes at times a year to see beneficial results from therapies directed at bone disease.
The study uses buffalo broth important as it is not fatty like other animal bones that could be used. By relying on the effective absorption of the buffalo bone broth nutrients through the lower colon, basti bypasses the need for digestion, absorption, and assimilation of these nutrients high up in what may be often times compromised small and large bowel function.
Nutrient basti therapy has been around for 1000’s of years and this is a sterling example of its application.
Cissus quadrangularis is a herb to promote calcium absorption and provides ketosterones which improve muscle growth. It is helpful in bone health promoting the healing of bone fractures, reduces free radical formation, calms majja dhatu, promotes healthy Kapha formation, and centrally enhances regeneration of injured tissue.
So the energy science of Ayurveda seems to offer to the medical health consumer of today struggling with osteoporosis/osteopenia a safe and time honored solution that appears to offer tremendous hope.