A New Formula for Treating Osteoporosis
Andrew Gaeddert, Herbalist – Health Concerns, Oakland
Strontium was listed in a British pharmacopoeia as early as 1884, and was also commonly used to manage osteoporosis in the 1950s. It fell out of use in the 50s because it was thought to interfere with vitamin D synthesis, though now it is believed that effect was due to calcium deficient diets. For those who remember that radioactive strontium 90 was a component of the fallout produced by nuclear weapons testing in the 50s, be assured that the strontium used as a dietary supplement is non-radioactive, completely nontoxic, safe and effective for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. Today it is commonly found in toothpastes for sensitive teeth.
Strontium is similar in composition
to two other bone-friendly minerals,
calcium and magnesium. Virtually all of the
300-350mg of strontium contained in the
human body are found in the bones and
teeth.2 In fact, strontium can actually replace
some of the calcium in bones and teeth,
making them thicker and stronger.
Strontium also appears to draw extra
calcium into the bones. We generally get
about two milligrams of strontium daily
from food, including spices, seafood, whole
grains, root and leafy vegetables and
Strontium has proven as effective as
the pharmaceutical drugs commonly used
to treat osteoporosis. Compared to the drugs,
strontium offers the bonus of being free of
side effects. Studies published up to 2002
have turned up no cases of toxicity and no significant side effects for dosages up to 1,700mg of strontium daily. However, bone deformities occurred in animals given a low calcium diet along with high doses of strontium, so be sure to get adequate calcium while taking strontium supplements.
Osteoporosis affects an
estimated 10 million Americans
over the age
of 50... In the U. S. today, a 50-year-old woman has a 50% chance of
having an osteoporosis-related fracture in her lifetime.
Osteoporosis affects an estimated 10 million Americans over the age of 50, or one in three women and one in twelve men. Women are particularly vulnerable to osteoporosis because their bones are less dense than men's bones, and because lowered estrogen levels in the years following menopause greatly accelerate
bone loss. In the U.S. today, a 50-year-old woman has a 50% chance of having an osteoporosis-related fracture in her lifetime. Men, however, are not entirely off the hook: as many as 6% of older men over age 50 have osteoporosis, and half have osteopenia, or below-normal bone density.
The body uses the bones as a storehouse for calcium, a crucial ingredient in many important body functions. In osteoporosis, the body pulls more calcium out of the bones than it deposits in them, making bones fragile and vulnerable to fractures. Bone fractures, particularly in the vertebra, hip and wrist, are the most troublesome complication of osteoporosis. Symptoms of osteoporosis include decreased height, rounded shoulders, humpback, and low bone density identified via lab tests. Lifestyle and diet have a significant impact on bone health and risk for osteoporosis. Factors that are associated with increased bone loss include smoking, very high and very low protein consumption, consumption of phosphates in soft drinks, and excessive sugar, salt, and caffeine consumption. Consuming soy products and weight-bearing exercise (including walking) have been shown to protect against bone loss.
Studies conducted over the
past 100 years consistently
show that strontium benefits bone health.
Studies Show Strontium Improves
Symptoms, Builds Bone
Studies conducted over the past hundred years consistently show that strontium benefits bone health. German researchers in 1910 found that strontium and calcium taken together were more effective in building bone than calcium alone, and a 1952 Coinell University study echoed those results. In a 1959 Mayo Clinic study of 32 osteoporosis patients receiving 1.7g of strontium lactate per day for up to three years, symptoms improved in all 22 osteoporosis patients taking strontium, and 10 subjects taking strontium along with estrogen and testosterone showed even more improvement in symptoms, with no significant side effects.
In the 1980s, researchers started
taking another look at strontium. A 1981
study showed that patients with cancer
metastases on the bones had improved bone
density and less pain while taking
strontium. A small-scale 1985 study of six
osteoporosis patients at McGill University
showed that 600-700mg of strontium
carbonate daily resulted in a 172% increase in the rate of bone formation, decreased pain and improved mobility. In a 1986 study in which researchers administered strontium to mice in their drinking water, the mice showed an increased rate of bone formation and a decreased rate of bone loss. A similar study of rats had similar results.
Recently, pharmaceutical companies have been taking another look at using strontium to decrease bone loss in the specific form of strontium ranelate, a combination of strontium with a synthetic substance called ranelic acid. It is important to note that several different forms of strontium were used in the earlier studies that showed strontium to be effective in treating bone loss, namely strontium carbonate, strontium lactate, and strontium gluconate, and that it is the strontium that's providing the benefit, not the various chemicals strontium is combined with. Nonetheless, recent studies suggest that strontium ranelate decreases bone loss, increases bone formation, and reduces both vertebral and peripheral fractures. Studies have determined the minimum effective dose to be 680mg of active strontium for postmenopausal women with osteoporosis and 340mg in post-menopausal women without osteoporosis.
In a 2-year French study published
in 2002, 338 postmenopausal women were
divided into groups taking varying levels of
strontium ranelate (.5, 1 and 2 grams daily)
with 500mg calcium and 800IU vitamin D
daily; 2g of the compound strontium ranelate
provides 680mg of active strontium. All three
groups showed dose-dependent increases in
lumbar bone density in 12 and 24 months.
For example, the 85 women taking 2g of
strontium ranelate daily showed bone density increases of 3% in the first year, and 2.4% in the second year, with a 44% reduction in new vertebral fractures compared to the placebo group.16 In a study of 160 postmenopausal women who didn't have osteoporosis, also published in 2002, all participants showed a significant increase in bone density in two years of taking 340mg of strontium daily, along with 500mg of calcium. In this study, the placebo group actually reported more adverse effects than the participants taking
strontium! And in yet another study published in 2002, 353 women with a previous vertebral fracture, taking 680mg of strontium daily, experienced a 3% annual increase in lumbar bone density.
A three-year study published in
2003 showed that women with
taking 680mg of strontium experienced a 41% reduction in vertebral fractures,
and an 11.4% increase in vertebral bone density, compared to a 1.3%
decrease in overall vertebral bone density in the placebo group.
In a large study published in early 2004, consisting of 1,649 postmenopausal women who had experienced at least one vertebral fracture, the participants taking strontium ranelate had half as many vertebral fractures at the end of one year as the control group who received placebos. After three years, the women taking strontium ranelate had 41% fewer fractures than the placebo group, and showed bone density increases of 14.4% in the spine, and 8.3% at the femoral neck. Authors of the study noted that these reductions in fractures are similar to those found with other drugs currently used to treat osteoporosis, including alendronate (47%)) resedronate (49%), raloxifene (30%) and parathyroid hormone (65% after 21 months). In another recently published study consisting of 1,442 menopausal women with osteoporosis, half took 2g of strontium ranelate powder daily along with vitamin D and calcium supplements. The women taking strontium ranelate experienced a 10% decrease in vertebral fractures and a 6.8% increase in vertebral bone density compared to only 1.3% decrease in vertebral bone density for the control group that took only vitamin D and calcium. And in the largest strontium study yet, 5,091 women who took 2g of strontium ranelate every day for three years also showed a 41% reduction in hip fractures.
Strontium has been shown
to be as effective as many
osteoporosis medications, without the side effects.
As Effective as Drugs, Without
the Side Effects
Strontium has been shown to be as effective as many osteoporosis medications, without the side effects. Additionally, only one of the medications currently available, parathyroid hormone, has been shown to
actually build bone as strontium does, but at $7,000 a year, parathyroid hormone is expensive and requires daily injections. Most osteoporosis drugs, along with calcium and vitamin D supplements, only reduce bone loss and are associated with very modest increases in bone density; While strontium is free of adverse effects, osteoporosis drugs often come with a variety of side effects including nausea, heartburn and gastrointestinal irritation. Some of the more common osteoporosis medications include: biphosphonates such as alendronate (Fosamax), resedronate (Actonel), and ibandronate (Boniva),hormone replacement drugs including estradiol (Estrace, Estraderm, Fempatch), conjugated estrogens (Premarin), and conjugated estrogens with medroxyprogersterone acetate (Premphase, Prempro, Prov era), parathyroid hormone forte) ; and selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) including raloxifene (Evista).
Tips for Taking Strontium
BioStrong contains the same dosage of active strontium used in clinical studies. It is combined with pepperine, an herbal extract found to increase nutrient absorption. Pepperine is derived from black pepper, which has an energetically warm property. Under the principles of TCM, most minerals are energetically cold. Pepperine should reduce the diarrhea and indigestion that is occasionally observed when taking strontium compounds. The bioavailability of strontium is reduced when it is taken with calcium or with food, so don't take strontium supplements at the same time of day as calcium supplements or with food. It should be taken between meals, however studies suggest the optimal time is first thing in the morning, 30-60 minutes before breakfast, or three hours after dinner in the evening. It is recommended that BioStrong be taken for up to three years.
Calcium and vitamin D are essential bone health supplements that should always be taken along with strontium. The recommended dosage for calcium is 1,000- 1,500mg a day. You can increase your absorption of calcium supplements by spreading them out through the day, and by taking them with food. Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption in the stomach and tract, and may be particularly helpful during the winter, when sunlight, a primary source of vitamin D, is in shorter supply. Studies have shown that 800IU of vitamin D per day, along with calcium, reduces risk for fractures. Because a wide range of nutrients are involved in bone health, it's important to get adequate vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin b- complex, C and K, folic acid, boron, copper, manganese, phosphorus, silicon and zinc. [back to Health & Medical Info...]