A news item today highlights the long-term use of bisphosphonate drugs that are used for people suffering from osteoporosis by slowing the breakdown of bone. However, evidence now shows that they actually weaken bone by producing microscopic cracks.
Not many people think of using herbs to support bone health, but there are many that herbalists use for just this purpose and they’re not surprisingly really good at healing other parts of the body as well. Common ones are horsetail, boneset, comfrey, black cohosh, gotu kola and ashwaganda and they all act in different ways to support the health of bones, acting on the bone cells as well as the protein and mineral matrix that surrounds them. There’s very little published research on herbs and bone health; black cohosh has been the subject of a moderate amount of research and has been found to inhibit the osteoclast cells that cause bone breakdown and protect and stimulate the osteoclast bone building cells. When supporting bone health with herbs it’s important to not only address the activity of these important cells but also take into account the health of the connective tissue (gotu kola, ashwaganda and horsetail), the blood supply to the bones and reduce inflammation that leads to bone loss.