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Ancient Remedies and Effective Home Exercises for Improving Osteoporosis

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Amber Yang, a certified personal trainer, demonstrates exercises for increasing bone health and shares an expert’s advice on increasing bone density.

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that increases the risk of fractures. In addition to supplementing with calcium and vitamin D, some patients with severe osteoporosis may need to take oral medications or receive injections, which can lead to a range of side effects. Dr. Hung-Chien Wu from Taiwan’s E Sheng Chinese Medicine Clinic recommends improving bone density through diet therapy, acupressure, and regular exercise.

Osteoporosis is a prevalent disease, affecting one-third of women and one-fifth of men over the age of 50 globally. It is often referred to as a silent disease, as it typically presents no noticeable symptoms in its early stages. Most individuals only become aware of the condition after a fracture occurs. Therefore, if you experience symptoms such as chronic pain, back pain, limited mobility, a hunched posture, or a decrease in height, it is recommended to seek medical diagnosis immediately to prevent fractures.

People at High Risk for Osteoporosis

Why are certain people more prone to developing osteoporosis? Dr. Wu explained that this is linked to osteoblasts within the bones. When osteoblasts detect weight-bearing activities in the body, they adjust to enhance calcium absorption, thereby safeguarding the bones from damage. According to Dr. Wu, five factors make some people particularly susceptible to osteoporosis:

  1. Low muscle mass: People with low muscle mass often exhibit nutritional deficiencies, especially those identified as having a C-shaped body type by the INBODY machine (a medical device to measure the body’s composition and fluid status). Individuals with this body type have a lower muscle-to-bone ratio and a higher susceptibility to osteoporosis.
  2. Nutritional deficiency: Inadequate nutrition, particularly insufficient intake of vitamin D and calcium, is a significant factor contributing to osteoporosis.
  3. Lack of exercise: Weight-bearing exercises can help increase bone density.
  4. Lack of sun exposure: Vitamin D3 synthesis requires sunlight, which is abundant during outdoor activities. Those who avoid sun exposure increase their risk of osteoporosis.
  5. Menopausal women: During menopause, women experience reduced levels of female hormones, which affect calcium and vitamin D3 levels in the body. This, in turn, decreases bone density and increases the risk of osteoporosis.

Diet Therapy for Increasing Bone Density

Adequate calcium intake is essential for increasing bone density and preventing osteoporosis. China Medical University Hospital has outlined recommended foods for osteoporosis prevention. Animal-based options include milk, yogurt, kefir, cheese, sardines, dried small fish, dried shrimp, and oysters, while plant-based choices include soy products (tofu, soy milk, dried tofu), black sesame seeds, seaweed, nori, basil, broccoli, amaranth greens, daylily buds, and dried cabbage.

One study indicated that performing weight-bearing exercises in sunlight could decrease the risk of osteoporosis. Dr. Wu explained that weight-bearing exercises stimulate osteoblasts to increase calcium uptake, thereby strengthening bone density. Additionally, it is advisable to eat foods rich in vitamin D to facilitate calcium absorption.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Therapy for Increasing Bone Density

Dr. Wu stated that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) offers unique insights and treatments for osteoporosis. TCM holds that “the liver governs the tendons” and “the kidneys govern the bones.” Therefore, Chinese herbal medicines that nourish the liver and kidneys are often used to strengthen tendons and bones and increase muscle mass.

Examples include:

  • Rhizoma Drynariae (Gu Sui Bu)
  • Radix Dipsaci (Xu Duan)
  • Eucommia bark (Du Zhong)
  • Mulberry Mistletoe (Sang Ji Sheng)
  • Rehmannia Root (Shu Di Huang)
  • Fructus Corni (Shan Zhu Yu)
  • Semen Cuscutae (Tu Si Zi)
  • Rhizoma Cibotii (Gou Ji)

Additionally, acupressure can help enhance calcium absorption. In TCM, it is believed that “bone essence accumulates at Dazhu (BL-11)” and “marrow essence accumulates at Juegu (GB-39, also known as Xuanzhong).” Stimulating these acupressure points may support bone health and potentially aid in calcium absorption.

The Dazhu acupoint is located below the first thoracic vertebra, 1.5 inches lateral to the spine. The Juegu acupoint is located three inches above the most prominent point of the lateral malleolus, approximately four finger widths above the front edge of the fibula.

In TCM, essence refers to a highly dynamic and vital substance within the body. It is a fundamental element that constitutes the human body and sustains its life activities.

Dr. Wu recommends massaging acupoints by hand at home or using a cupping device. Alternatively, one may seek treatment from a certified physician.

Home Exercises for Increasing Bone Density

As a certified personal trainer, I have outlined several weight-bearing exercises aimed at increasing bone density and preventing osteoporosis through the piezoelectric effect.

Amber Yang demonstrates the Dumbbell Deadlift exercise. (The Epoch Times)
Amber Yang demonstrates the Dumbbell Deadlift exercise. (The Epoch Times)

1. Dumbbell Deadlift

Steps:

a. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, ensuring that hip joints remain neutral (neither tilted forward nor backward). Let your arms hang naturally, each hand gripping a dumbbell with palms facing your body. Keep your eyes looking straight ahead and maintain a straight back.

b. Inhale without moving your feet and calves and simultaneously hinge at your hips by pushing them backward, and lower your torso while keeping your back straight.

c. Exhale as you pull your hips forward, straighten your torso, and return to the starting position while squeezing your buttocks.

d. Repeat nine times.

Goblet Squat. (The Epoch Times)
Goblet Squat. (The Epoch Times)

2. Goblet Squat

Steps:

a. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing outward. Hold a dumbbell against your chest with your palms supporting the base and your elbows tucked in close to your body. Keep your eyes looking straight ahead and your back straight.

b. Inhale as you bend your hips and knees, lowering yourself into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground.

c. Exhale as you slowly rise back up to a standing position.

d. Repeat nine times.

Dumbbell Squat. (The Epoch Times)
Dumbbell Squat. (The Epoch Times)

3. Dumbbell Squat

Steps:

a. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing outward. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing towards the body. Keep your eyes looking straight ahead and maintain a straight back.

b. Inhale as you bend your hips and knees, lowering yourself into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground.

c. Exhale as you slowly rise back up to a standing position.

d. Repeat nine times.

While performing all of the above exercises, be mindful not to shrug your shoulders, arch your back, or let your lower back collapse.

Note: Some herbs mentioned in this article may be unfamiliar, but are generally available in health food stores and Asian grocery stores. It is important to note that treatment methods may vary depending on the individual. Please consult with a health care professional for a specific treatment plan.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times. Epoch Health welcomes professional discussion and friendly debate. To submit an opinion piece, please follow these guidelines and submit through our form here.

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