Bone Health – Part I

I’m 65 and would like to know if there any herbal-based treatments that might help support my bones.
This is a great question and so we are going to answer it in multiple parts, from diet, to supplements, life style and of course herbs.
Let’s start with herbs and our ‘constitution’. When babies are born you can see that they are “moist and fat”—that is natural. But we age, we loose the moisture, the “good” fat and of course, the elasticity of the skin. Doctors of old would have said as we age we become “cold” and “dry”. We can clearly see that. But diseases like osteoporosis are also signs of “cold” and “dry” and therefore, needs warmth and moisture. Today, that would translate into being physically active, both cardio and some sort of weight training, to keep the blood circulating and to keep the bones strong. It might also include taking herbs to help increase the body’s “warmth” via circulation. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a great herb that comes to mind. It is very warming which is helpful to the circulatory system and has anti-inflammatory properties, which are helpful in any sort of “itis”. It tends to be drying, so ginger would need to be combined with moistening herbs such as licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra, uralensis) or plantain (Plantago major, lanceolata). Note: marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis) and slippery elm (Ulmus rubra) are good, too, but they should be made in a cold decoction. A cold and dry constitution also means that you need more good fats in the diet. Hence cod liver oil is a great addition to almost any diet.
Many herbs used for inflammation (…”itis”) such as burdock root (Arctium lappa) and yellow doc root (Rumex crispus), are cold, and should be taken with herbs that are warming and moistening. Also, they should not be taken for long periods of time. Willow bark (Salix alba) is also a gentle analgesic and has anti-inflammatory properties. (Aspirin was originally created from willow bark). Turmeric (Curcuma longa) and boswellia (Boswellia serrata) are two good herbs/spices used for inflammation. I keep a shaker of turmeric next to the salt and pepper and put it on nearly everything I cook.
Finally, some herbs that are high in minerals (necessary for good bone formation) are: stinging nettles (Urtica dioica), kelp (Ascophyllum nodosum), oatstraw (Avena sativa) and horsetail (Equisetum arvense) and should also be considered.
I will try to send more information out on each of these herbs over the next several weeks but hopefully this will get you thinking.
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