One in four women and one in eight men over the age of 50 suffer from osteoporosis. It is a serious bone disorder that results in bones becoming thin and brittle, often times leading to breaks and fractures.
While osteoporosis usually arise as a result of aging or hormonal imbalances in menopausal women, it can also affect men and younger women. Bone diseases and weak bones at young age increase risk of fractures, disability, pain and missed productive hours.
Ayurveda provides a host of all-natural solutions that can increase bone density and strengthen the bones. Ayurvedic herbal medicines and therapies like Panchakarma, oil massages, and yoga can help to stimulate bone formation and reverse loss of bone mineral density.
In this post, we will explore Ayurvedic treatment for osteoporosis and weak bones. We will go through the best Ayurvedic medicines, diet and nutrition principles and yoga asana that will help you to increase your bone density naturally. Let’s begin!
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a bone disorder in which there is significant loss of mass, structural deformities and thinning of bones. As a result, the bones become fragile, brittle, and hollow.
They do not have sufficient strength to help you do physically strenuous tasks, regular activities, or even carry your body’s weight (in extreme cases).
Usually, the hip bone, spine, and wrist bones are affected the most as they are more exposed to daily stress than any other bones in the body.
Most of the time, the loss of bone occurs silently and increasingly until the first fracture occurs.
Osteoporosis in Ayurveda
Bone thinning and Osteoporosis is known as Asthikṣhaya or decay of the bones in Ayurveda. According to Ayurvedic principles, asthi dhatu or bone tissues is the seat of vata dosha. Seat means the tissues or organs that are most sensitive to the vitiation of specific Dosha.
An imbalance of Vata dosha triggers bone loss and degeneration.
The Ayurvedic treatment for osteoporosis focuses on restoring the balance of vata dosha and strengthening the bones. There are many Ayurvedic herbs that can help improve bone health and density. Some of the most effective include madhuyasti, vidarikanda, priyangu, and Shatavari, and guduchi.
Studies have shown that Ayurvedic treatment for osteoporosis is highly beneficial and effective in long term. In addition, nutritious foods, mild exercise, and yoga should be included in daily routine for improving bone health.
For bone health, prevention needs to be the first step as bone loss is only partly reversible.Medhya Herbals
What Causes Bone Loss in Osteoporosis?
Our bones are a living tissue. They continue to grow and evolve with new tissues bring formed and old tissues being dissolved in plasma and excreted out.
During early years of our life, the rate of bone tissue formation is higher than the rate of bone tissue resorption (being bones being dissolved out). Hence, bones grow and become dense.
1. Accelerated Bone Loss due to Aging
During later years of our life, bone resorption rate is higher. This leads to bone loss as we age. Bone loss is also accelerated by lifestyle and nutrition factors. High bone tissue loss leads to thin, porous, and brittle bones. This is termed as Primary Osteoporosis, however aging should not cause fractures.
2. Low Estrogen levels for Menopausal Women
Estrogen acts as the catalyst for the growth and strength of the bones. Usually, low levels of Estrogen, which naturally comes with aging, causes bone loss in old age in both males and females. Menopausal Osteoporosis also falls in primary category.
3. Poor Nutrition
Poor eating habits and nutrition, less or absence of physical activity, or peripheral health problems may restrain the growth of bone mass in earlier in life.
- An acidic diet, rich in animal proteins, and white foods such as white sugar and white flour increases leaching of Calcium from bones in urine.
- High intake of caffeine hinders Calcium absorption. More than 2 cups of coffee in a day also increases leaching of Calcium from bones to urine.
- High intake of salt accelerates bone resorption and bone loss.
- Low levels of Vitamin D, Vitamin K and insufficient proteins intake.
If a person is not able to reach the required bone mineral density at a young age, he or she will struggle with weak bones and eventually may suffer from Osteoporosis later in life.
Symptoms of Osteoporosis
Usually in the beginning, there are no symptoms of bone loss. In fact, most of the times, bone health condition is only diagnosed after a fracture has happened. But, there are some symptoms of weakened bones as below.
- Fractures are quite common in the hip, wrist, and spine (vertebrae).
- Back pain occurs after a fracture or collapse in the vertebra
- Fractures or collapses in the vertebra cause a stooped posture and make the spine bend forward
- Decreasing height over time
- Sloping shoulders
- A bone fracture is much more common than expected
Health Complications of Weak Bones
Osteoporosis is known as the “silent disease.” The bone fractures, mainly in the spine or hip, are the most serious complication of osteoporosis.
- Hip fractures usually occur due to a fall. They can result in disability or increased risk of death within the first year after the injury.
- Sometimes, there may be spinal fractures even without any fall.
- Spine bones or the vertebrae can weaken to the extent that the bones may crumble. This can result in back pain, lost height, and a curved forward posture.
- Unusual stress on the spinal muscles and ligaments leads to chronic, dull, aching pain, mainly in the lower back.
Diagnosis of Osteoporosis
Measurement of bone mineral density helps to get information about the strength of the bones. The test to check bone density is done via a central Dual-Energy X-Ray absorptiometry (DXA).
DXA is a special type of X-Ray measure for the bones. Furthermore, the doctor may use other screening tools to detect the complications due to a low bone mineral density.
Ayurvedic Natural Treatment for Osteoporosis
Ayurveda considers “asthi dhatu” or bones to be one of the seven basic tissues in our body. Asthi Dhatu is also closely related to “meda dhatu” adipose or fatty tissue, as well as “majja dhatu” our nervous system and the sub tissues or “updhatu” as hair, nails and teeth.
Ayurvedic treatment for osteoporosis helps to increase bone mass and strength, restores the digestive fire, detoxifies the body and balances the hormones. Thus it also supports production and storage calcium, magnesium and other minerals that are essential for healthy bones.
Ayurvedic treatment for bone health employs Ayurvedic medicines, herbs and minerals, diet changes, physical therapies, yoga and meditation.
Here’s a video by Medhya Herbals for you to know about Diet and Lifestyle to naturally increase the bone density.
Principles of Ayurvedic Treatment for Osteoporosis
Here are the guiding principles of Ayurvedic treatment to promote bone health:
- Vata dosha balance to prevent dryness, brittleness, and weakness of the bones.
- Detoxification and Kapha dosha reduction to curb fat, hence promoting weight loss and reducing strain on the bones.
- Promote hormone balance and Pitta Dosha balance to prevent pain, swelling, and inflammation.
- Stop loss of bones and promote storage of minerals in the bones to improve bone density
- Promote strength “balya” and nourishment of the “asthi dhatu” or the bone tissues.
1. Ayurvedic Herbs for Bone Health
Ayurvedic herbs promote circulation in the bones and stimulate bone growth. They flush out the toxins that lead to the blockade and dosha imbalance.
Ayurvedic medicines directly work on the bone tissues and prevent its loss. In addition, they also carry the essential micronutrients and antioxidants to nourish the asthi dhatu and fight inflammation.
All the herbs and Ayurvedic medicines that have been shared in this post are for information purpose only. All of these are potent Ayurvedic medicines that should be taken under the supervision of a qualified Ayurvedic doctor only. Do not indiscriminately use Ayurvedic herbs as it may cause more harm than benefit.
Giloy or guduchi provides with essential minerals, naturally detoxifies and boosts the growth of bones through its action on the bone forming cells.
Shatavari is also known as shatamull. It is an herb to improve bone density naturally. It helps to repair damaged bone cells and to rebuild bones, making them strong.
This is a potent Ayurvedic medicine for bone diseases and it is effective even at very low doses. It supports bone formation, stimulates the growth of bone tissues and protects the structure of bones.
Jatamansi is very rich in calcium. And that says a lot on its own. Aside from calcium, jatamansi also contains other nutrients that help to strengthen bones.
Praval (Coral Calcium)
Coral based calcium has very high bio availability even at very low doses.
This is recommended in Ayurveda instead of the calcium supplements as for people with weak digestive fire (which is often the case in menopausal osteoporosis, it is difficult to absorb calcium from your diet and from supplements).
This herb pacifies the Vata dosha. When you correct imbalances in the Vata dosha, you go a long way to correcting deficiencies in the ashti dhatu too.
Ashwagandha is also good for women who are experiencing osteoporosis due to menopause.
2. Physical Therapies and Ayurvedic Massage for Bone Health
Ayurvedic therapies can help improve bone health include massages with herbal oils.
Self-massage, or Abhyanga, is an important part of Ayurveda for maintaining good health and preventing disease. The practice of Abhyanga can be especially beneficial for those with osteoporosis, as it helps to improve circulation, nourish the skin and muscles, and increase bone density.
Best Herbal Oils to Strengthen the Bones
There are many different oils that can be used for massage, but the best oil for strengthening bones is organic cold-pressed sesame oil. Sesame oil is a heavy oil that is absorbed slowly by the skin. It is also high in antioxidants, which help to protect the bones from free radical damage.
Sesame oil can be infused with warming essential oils, like ginger or cardamom, to enhance its effects. Medicated oils that contain bone healing herbs like Bala (Sida cordifolia) or Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) can also be used for massage.
The oil should be applied all over the body, except for the face, and left on for 25 to 30 minutes before washing off with warm water. The warmth and moisture will boost the absorption of the oil into the skin, and increase its benefits.
3. Ayurvedic Diet to Improve Bone Density
In addition to Ayurvedic medicines, you should also make dietary changes that can help improve bone health.
- Adopt an alkaline diet that primarily consists of fruits, vegetables, and unprocessed grains to increase bone strength and bone density.
- Prefer smaller meals during the day and do not hold hunger. Always take timely meals at fixed time everyday.
- Take warm and unctuous foods such as porridges, curries, gruels, and soups.
- Include spices and herbs to maintain healthy digestive fire and to get the micronutrients.
Best Foods for Bone Health
Foods that are beneficial for osteoporosis include those that are high in calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, such as dairy products and leafy green vegetables.
- Grains: like wheat, amaranth, rice, quinoa, and oats.
- Fruits: like pineapple, mangoes, peaches, plums, papaya, grapes, oranges, cherries, coconut, figs, etc.
- Pure Oils: like ghee and sesame oil.
- Vegetables: such as green beans, peas, sweet potatoes, carrots, and leafy greens.
- Medicinal Foods: sesame seeds, black pepper, fenugreek, moringa oliefera, pumpkin seeds, turmeric, ginger, dill, chives, basil should be a part of your diet.
Foods and Diet to Avoid in Osteoporosis
- Remove chilli and sugar from the diet. Both of these cause excessive stimulation and push Vata out of balance.
- Remove cold temperature foods and drinks.
- Limit or stop raw foods such as salads.
- Avoid fried and spicy foods as it will interfere with the absorption of minerals.
- Remove processed foods that are devoid of nutrition.
- Avoid carbonated drinks as they leach calcium out of the bones and increase the tendency of bone loss.
- Do not consume Vata vitiating foods. For lentils and beans, add spices and herbs to them and soak them overnight to pacify Vata vitiation.
4. Physical Activity for Osteoporosis
People with health problems like osteoporosis usually take exercise to be a traumatic option. A fear of cracks and fracture due to physical activity inhibits the patients to carry out any form of exercise. However, it is not true!
Physical activity stimulates the growth and density of the bones. It has been observed that one may extensively loose bone mass and density when no physical stress is applied to bones.
As a matter of fact, sedentary lifestyle and absence of stress to bones are the biggest contributors towards weak and brittle bones.
Astronauts suffer from weak and fragile bones after few weeks of time in space without gravity. Patients on bed rest also end up loosing bones due to absence of weight or stress on the bones.
The Best Exercise to stimulate Bone Growth
One of the most important factors to stimulate bone formation is application of physical stress. Several studies have proven that physical activities that force you to work against gravity are one of the best forms of exercise to prevent bone conditions such as Osteoporosis and Osteopenia.
Such activities are termed as Weight Bearing Activities. Some of the examples are: walking, hiking, dancing, weight training, jogging, stomping, jumping, climbing stairs, and brisk walking.
Other forms of activities that help build muscle strength are also prescribed to improve bone health. Muscle strength increases a sense of balance and prevents fractures from falls. Strong muscles also provide a strong support for the bones.
5. Yoga Therapy for Osteoporosis Treatment
Multiple Ayurvedic texts recommend yoga for weak bone conditions. Yoga improves bone strength, muscle strength, and also increases stability. Yogic postures and moves improve balance and concentration, hence preventing falls and risk of fractures.
Regularly practicing yoga for at least 30 minutes a day induces flexibility and strength in the bone tissues. Studies indicate that yoga is highly effective exercise for patients with osteoporosis.
Yoga Asana to Strengthen Bones
There are many yoga poses that can help improve bone health and density. Some of the most effective include poses that increase circulation to the bones, such as Downward Dog and Boat Pose. These poses help to increase the delivery of nutrients to the bones and remove toxins.
Poses that help to build strength in the bones include Triangle Pose, Chair Pose, and Warrior III. These poses help to create resistance against which the bones can grow stronger.
Poses that help to calm and rejuvenate the mind and body can also be helpful for osteoporosis. Poses such as Child’s Pose and Reclining Bound Angle are excellent for this purpose. They help to soothe the nervous system and reduce stress, which can be beneficial for overall bone health.
The Best Tips to Make Yoga Work for Osteoporosis Prevention
While some yoga postures maybe a little hard to get into when you are suffering from pain, it should not stop you from practicing. One should practice yoga with the attitude to learn and not to compete with anyone, including yourself.
When you are a beginner, you should take support to balance the poses and go slowly. What is most important is to be consistent rather than making it a onetime painful activity! You can try to steady yourself with the help of props or with fixed objects such as a wall, chair, or table.
Forward bending, Headstands, and spine twisting movements are NOT recommended for people suffering from very low bone mass density, or with chronic pain, or spinal fractures.
Before you Go!
Find the right way to support your bones in Osteoporosis may not seem straight forward. However, Ayurvedic treatment for osteoporosis offers a range of options that can help to strengthen your bones according to your specific body constitution.
Ayurvedic treatments are safe and natural, and they can provide long-term relief from the painful health symptoms. If you are looking for Ayurvedic treatment for osteoporosis, try Medhya Herbals’ health programme and treatment for Bones and Joint Health.