"Porous bones" is the literal meaning of the word osteoporosis. In the United States, over 25 million people are affected by osteoporosis. Eighty percent of these are women. As I mentioned in last week’s article, osteoporosis is not just a calcium deficiency problem, it occurs when bones are torn down faster than they are rebuilt for various reasons.
Osteoporosis is broken down into 3 types. Type I is related to hormonal changes around midlife in women. Type II is linked to dietary deficiency and Type III is linked to specific drug treatment for certain illnesses.
One of the misconceptions around Type I osteoporosis is that it is deemed to begin at menopause. For most women, it actually begins much earlier. Bone mass typically starts declining in a woman’s mid-thirties, accelerates for about 3 to 5 years around the time of menopause, and then continues to decline at a rate of 1 to 1.5 per year.
Because bone loss accelerates at menopause when estrogen levels decline, conventional medicine’s viewpoint is that osteoporosis can be cured with estrogen replacement therapy (ERT). However, estrogen does not build bone; it merely slows bone loss – which can be a very important component.
There is no question that estrogen slows bone loss around the time of menopause, but the scientific evidence is very clear that after 5 to 6 years, bone loss continues at the same rate with or without estrogen. One particular study involving 9500 women found no benefit in estrogen supplementation in the bone health of women over the age of 65.
One of the missing links is the natural hormone progesterone. Natural progesterone is notable because it facilitates the action of bone building molecules known as osteoblasts. Please note that synthetic progestin is not the same and does not perform the same functions in the body. Synthetic progestin also has many negative side effects associated with it.
Doctors have shown that using a natural progesterone cream will actively increase bone mass and density in women with significant bone loss, and can reverse osteoporosis. Some patients consistently showed as much as a 29 percent gain in bone mineral density in three years or less of progesterone therapy. Note that those with the lowest beginning bone densities had the largest improvement while those who had good bone density to begin with maintained that using progesterone.
Progesterone does seem to be part of the key to bone health since many women experience a decrease in progesterone production beginning in their mid-thirties. This coincides with the beginning of the decline of bone mass in women.
Natural progesterone cream can be found at health food stores. Reputable brands will contain 20 mg of USP micronized progesterone per quarter teaspoon. In post menopausal women, it should be used 3 weeks out of the month with one week off.
Remember, when dealing with bone health, there is no one single magic bullet or pill. Lifestyle issues of exercise and diet are also important. Bones need weight bearing exercise for health. Diet involves not just what you include, but what you exclude as well.
Margaret Durst owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas. www.thegreenhouse.myshopify.com