In my practice I have recently seen a number of women who are postmenopausal and are experiencing a lower than normal bone density problem. Postmenopausal osteoporosis is the result of two concurring phenomena: loss of bone mass linked with age, and the acceleration of the process as a result of menopausal estrogen deficiency. Preventive treatment should consist of a combination of modalities including: chinese herbs that are called blood tonics (which provide an estrogen stimulant), herbs that correspond to the kidneys which begin to get deficient with age and need to be built up with tonics and acupuncture which can tonify the kidneys and bones. These three things can provide what western hormone therapy tries to achieve. It is believed that bone tissue depletion is the result of an imbalance between the osteoplasts and the bone reabsorption in order to activate bone formation. Reduction in the bone mass leads to bone fractures, hip problems, as well as vertebrae problems.
The contemporary term for menopause in Chinese is qing mian qi. The word means to change, to modify, and to take the place of and refers to age and Qi as a means of time, period, or phase. Deficiency of Kidney Qi and Yin is manifested when the Essence begins to diminish around 49 years old and is therefore the root of menopause and osteoporosis. This creates an imbalance of the Blood and Essence which become insufficient. Women develop symptoms and because of this deficiency develop imbalance in the other organs as well. The kidney has to do with water in Chinese Medicine and since it gets depleted over time it is called Kidney Yin deficiency, which means there is a deficient type of heat burning in the body, and this internal deficient heat is responsible for burning up the internal fluids. The internal fluids is what keeps someone with good bones and fluid to hydrate their skin, nails etc. and as this begins to dry up it affects the hormones as well as the ability to maintain bone formation. In Chinese Medicine this Yin can be built up using herbs and acupuncture and in time help with osteoporosis.
As women get older even past the menopause phase the Kidney Yin becomes exhausted and the Essence and fluids continue to diminish. This means the bone marrow is no longer nourished, resulting in the pathological phenomena of osteoporosis. However, each individual is different and may require different herbs and treatments to facilitate changes during this time of life. The idea is to restore balance of the yin and tonify the Qi and Blood. A daily calcium supply is also necessary although there are many different products and it becomes important to make sure that whatever is being given is absorbed into the system. I have one patient who is sixty-three years old that was having trouble with her bone density test and I put her on several different products including specific calcium magnesium, two Chinese formulas, and acupuncture once a week. After a full year she went back in for a bone density test and she actually scored higher than a year ago. By building up the kidney, which is bone in Chinese Medicine, nourishing her blood and giving her the right supplements, she experienced great success. There is a lot of research on changing one’s diet once there is bone loss. The recommended calcium inhibitors are: coffee, refined sugar, alcohol, red meat, excess salt and too little or too much exercise. It is important to create good bone health and if you are experiencing some problems it is best to address them as soon as possible with the proper treatments and herbs.