Wednesday, September 9, 2009

To Prevent Osteoporosis: Exercise, Exercise, Exercise

Think Wang Pei Kun has a bone density problem? Please.

What is osteoporosis? According to the Merck Manual:

Osteoporosis is a progressive metabolic bone disease that decreases bone density (bone mass per unit volume), with deterioration of bone structure. Skeletal weakness leads to fractures with minor or inapparent trauma, particularly in the thoracic and lumbar spine, wrist and hip.

You've heard of the little old lady who falls down and breaks her hip? She's got osteoporosis. Fortunately there are a number of things that the little old lady can do to increase bone density and prevent fractures without the need for poisonous pharmaceutical drugs such as Fosamax, which can actually cause mandibular osteonecrosis. "Mandibular osteonecrosis" is a fancy way of saying that it kills your jaw bone. Let's not play Abel to Fosamax's Cain, okay? (Ironically, Fosamax is a product of the Merck pharmaceutical company)

Important to note is that osteoporosis is what the Merck Manual calls a "metabolic" disease. This means it is not caused by any external bacteria or virus. You can't catch osteoporosis from anyone. Your own body can create the condition of osteoporosis, and it can also therefore reverse that condition.

The number one thing that you can do to increase bone density and decrease the risk of osteoporosis is EXERCISE. Numerous studies have confirmed that even gentle exercise such as taijiquan can increase bone density. If you're not crazy about taiji, try yoga, or weightlifting, or jogging or even walking. Here's a sample of the literature on bone density and exercise:

According to Chen and Chen's formula book, there are four formulas one can use to treat osteoporosis. Obviously your options are not limited to these four formulas (独活寄生汤 Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang, anyone?) but it's a good starting point.

Kidney Yin Deficiency: 左归丸 Zuo Gui Wan
Kidney Yang Deficiency: 右归丸 You Gui Wan
Kidney Jing Deficiency: 龟鹿二仙胶 Gui Lu Er Xian Jiao
Spleen Qi Deficiency: 参苓白术散 Shen Ling Bai Zhu San

Fat Turtle Herb Company can fill all these formulas to your exact specifications in different formats: raw herbs, pre-cooked vacuum packs, granule and capsule.

p.s. The occasion for this post was a NY Times article on osteoporosis which ignores even their own archives. As my nephew Joey would say, with his hands on his head: Ai yai yai yai yai!

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