Osteoporosis is a disease that often affects older women, and which results in a loss of bone density. In effect, the bones become porous and weaker, meaning they are more easily broken.
Traditional treatment, particularly for menopausal women, has included hormonal treatment, in hope that when levels of female hormones are increased, that the loss of bone will be slowed or stopped.
This has been a very narrow view of osteoporosis, which like many diseases is precipitated by multiple factors, and needs more than a single treatment. And the disease needs better treatment: osteoporosis is rampant in the older female population – as many as 1 out of every 2 women over 50 could develop the condition.
New research points to the reduction of estradiol during menopause as a contributor to higher levels of oxidative stress in the body and that this oxidative stress sets women up for bone loss.
This is where rhodiola comes in. The herb rhodiola rosea has an antioxidant in it called salidroside. This particular antioxidant apparently works within the bone itself, and helps to protect bone-forming cells from the detrimental effects of oxidative stress.
In mouse experiments, salidroside showed a number of benefits:
- survival of osteoblasts (bone-forming cells) were enhanced;
- bone formation was enhanced, as demonstrated by increased alkaline phosphatase activity;
- calcium was better deposited in bones;
- glutathione – another potent antioxidant – was increased in the body in the presence of salidroside; and,
- free radicals were reduced by salidroside.
Researchers also saw that both bone structure and bone density was improved.
You may know rhodiola from its stress-busting effects. It’s been used traditionally for its adaptogenic properties. However, we now have another positive effect for rhodiola – it also reduces the stress on your bones.
Rhodiola may make a great addition to other strategies that help to build bone, but don’t stop doing that weight bearing exercise though! It’s one of the most important things you can do to retain bone mass. And don’t forget those critical minerals that go into building bone: not just calcium but also magnesium, potassium, sulfur, phosphorus, iron, zinc, boron and fluoride. Some of these minerals – like fluoride – you need only trace amounts. But those small amounts will make a big difference in your bone health.