Osteoporosis is a health condition in which bones become porous as the body loses too much bone, making it very weak and fragile. Women are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis as compared to men. There are two main reasons behind this. Firstly, women have lesser muscle and bone mass and secondly, drop in both the female hormone levels (estrogen and progesterone) during menopause, which plays a vital role in bone remodeling. Though women are more prone to develop osteoporosis, it does not mean that men cannot develop this condition. The risk for fracture in men increases in later life, at around 70 years of age. Osteoporosis is responsible for at least 1.5 million fractures each year, including 250,000 hip fractures. Osteoporotic hip fracture is one of the most dangerous fractures as it may be fatal.
Preventing osteoporosis is very important for everyone and fortunately, it is possible. Taking natural supplements over prescription medication is a good idea as all the patent medicines for osteoporosis have some or other side effects in our body which may even worsen this condition. It is by law that a patent can only be granted for substances that can never be found in human bodies. So, patent medications are external agents for the human body. As our bodies are evolved from natural things, it is always better to take something natural or herbal first for any kind of healing in the body.
Bisphosphonate is one of the most commonly prescribed medications to prevent osteoporosis. The worst thing about bisphosphonate patent medications is that they do not help with the new bone formation. Instead, they aid in the retention of older bones by suppressing the activity of osteoclasts (specialized cells whose job it is to remove worn out, injured, or otherwise damaged bone. This is a task that must be taken care of before such weakened bone can be replaced with new strong bone.) Gradually, the amount of unhealthy bone tissue accumulates and bones become very fragile and heal poorly in case of any injury or trauma. It is also evident from several researches that this drug has many negative impacts or side effects in the body including musculoskeletal pain, osteonecrosis of the jaw, irregular heartbeat, increased risk of bone fractures, flu-like syndrome, kidney disfunction, hypocalcemia, esophageal cancer and ulceration. Apart from that, oral dose of this drug may cause inflammatory eye diseases like conjunctivitis, uveitis and scleritis. All these side effects are mentioned in several research papers and articles based on evidence and facts. It was also concluded by researchers that new bone formation in women who took these medications for more than 3 years was nearly a hundred times lower than that normally seen in postmenopausal women. The other factor is that severe reduction in bone remodeling can reduce the jaw’s natural ability to heal, placing too much healing demand on patients treated with bisphosphonates can lead to the death of the jaw bone (osteonecrosis) which is extremely difficult to cure. On the contrary, some studies suggest that bisphosphonate can be beneficial in women with breast cancer but it is not a concrete statement as some other studies have opposite conclusions. Also, keeping its side effects in mind, one should consider other natural and healthy ways to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Two other new patent medicines namely denosumab and teriparatide are even more hazardous. Denosumab works similarly to bisphosphonate by retention of older bones (poison osteoclasts) but additionally it prevents precursor cells from developing into osteoclasts. It may not only cause osteonecrosis of jaw but also atypical femoral fracture. The other common side effects include urinary and respiratory tract infections, cataract, rashes, constipation and joint pain. Osteoclasts are also important for our immunity as they belong to the monocyte family (a type of white blood cell). Also, lymphocytes formation is important for life and is linked to the immune system. Both pre-osteoclasts and immune cell precursors are required to be activated by RANKL, which allows them to develop into mature and active cells. Denosumab binds to all the RANKL and uses it up. Many researches done on this patent drug suggested that it might also be linked to inflammation in mucus lining, hypertension, high cholesterol levels and skin infections. Studies were done on its effect on prostate issues in men also but it was not found effective.
Teriparatide is another drug used to treat osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. It activates osteoblasts more than osteoclasts due to which bone mineral density gets enhanced. Unfortunately, like all the other patent medicines, it is not produced by the body and is likely to cause problems similar to all the other patent medicines for treating osteoporosis. Its adverse effect is not only limited to normal issues like nausea, cramps and dizziness but also big problems such as a bone tumor and bone cancer. Other side effects associated with teriparatide are hypercalcemia, hyperuricemia, hypo-magnesia and elevated cortisol levels.
All of the above discussed patent drugs should be the last choice for osteoporosis treatment due to their side effects in the body. The good thing is that natural remedies and supplements can help to restore bones effectively without any adverse effects. It is evident from many researches that if natural nutrients like calcium, strontium, magnesium, etc are taken in the right amounts with appropriate diet and exercises, bones can be restored in the body without taking any prescribed medications. It is always better to go with natural options to treat osteoporosis for healthy and strong bones.
Your Bones (Chapter 1 and 2) by Lara Pizzorno