To understand osteoporosis and the popular medical “remedy” Fosamax, it is necessary to understand the process of bone remodeling. And, yes, bones do remodel themselves. The cycle takes 100 days. It occurs throughout life through a regulated process of osteoclast-mediated bone resorption coupled to osteoblast-mediated bone formation.
Now, let me walk you through the process in terms easily grasped by the layman. Bone is a dynamic tissue that is constantly being resorbed and remodeled. As with all organs and tissues of the body, muscular and skeletal included, the cells that compose them die and are replaced, resulting in a renewal of these organs and tissues in cycles that are determined by their use, wear and tear. For example, the hardest working muscle in the body, the heart, is replaced cell by cell, on an average, every thirty days. The next most used organ, the stomach, is replaced over a period of ninety days; the remaining organs approximately every twelve months. Your skeletal and muscular systems, however, take much longer to replace themselves — seven years on an average.
What happens is simple: bone cells and the collagen that holds them in place are dissolved and the minerals that comprise the bone cells are reclaimed in a process called “resorption.” This is done by little workhorses called “osteoclasts.” These demolition cells, literally bone-breakers by derivation, are regulated by estrogen in women and estrogen converted testosterone in men.
Osteoblasts are cells that lay down the collagen matrix for bone remodeling. In a word, they replace bone cells after they are demolished by the osteoclasts.
THE ROLE OF ESTROGEN (Estrodiol)
In simple terms, the estrogen hormone estrodiol brings on the death (apoptosis) of the osteoclast cell once its role is completed. It simply attaches a protein molecule called Fas Ligand, that is programmed to kill cells that fail to perform their function. This allows a balance between the breaking down process and the rebuilding process of bone tissue by “osteoblasts.” In this sense, estrogen plays a protective role in bone health. In technical terms, estrogen induces a paracrine signal (endocrine hormone messenger) originating in osteoblasts that leads to the death of pre-osteoclasts, thereby regulating bone resorption and remodeling.
THE ROLE OF THE PARATHYROID GLANDS
The Thyroid Gland’s production of hormones is activated by the Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH) produced by the Pituitary Gland. Parathyroid hormones (PTH) produced by the 4 parathyroid glands, located on the backside of the thyroid gland, stimulates Calcium and Phosphate release from bone, thereby increasing blood calcium and phosphate levels. It also stimulates osteoclasts, thus breaking down bone tissue, then stimulates Calcium resorption in the kidneys, where it also stimulates activated Vitamin D3 production.
THE ROLE OF VITAMIN D3
Vitamin D3 is a steroid hormone that plays an important role in regulating mineral metabolism. The target tissues of D3 are the intestines, bone, kidneys, and parathyroid glands.
OSTEOPOROSIS & OSTEOPENIA
Simply stated, when bone absorption gets ahead of bone matrix production and replacement, bones begin to get thin. This typically occurs in postmenopausal women and in men as they age. With women it’s a reduction is estrogen that results in a reduction in osteoclast apoptosis (cell suicide). With men it’s a reduction in testosterone and its conversion to estrogen that results in the same reduction in osteoclast apoptosis. So bone resorption continues at a higher rate than bone replacement, resulting in a thinning of the bones (osteopenia) which leads to osteoporosis if left untreated.
ENTER FOSAMAX (ALENDRONATE)
The bisphosphonate alendronate and conjugated equine estrogens are both widely used for the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis. Acting by different mechanisms, these two agents decrease bone resorption and thereby increase or preserve bone mineral density (BMD).
Alendronate’s mechanism of action is to inhibit osteolast activity and thus slow down the resorption of calcium. This has both favorable and unfavorable consequences. While Fosamax slows down bone resorption, it prevents bone turnover and renewal. This doesn’t sound very wise to me. Basically, old bone is not replaced by new bone. Bone matrix continues to be laid down by osteoblast activity, however the new bone is formed on top of the alendronate which is then incorporated into the bone matrix where is ceases to be pharmacologically active. This creates the necessity for continued administration of the drug to suppress osteoclast activity. The end result is the creation of a thin veneer of bone matrix laid down on the back of the drug, which looks white on x-ray film giving the impression that bone density has been increased. But it has only been increased at surface levels and not at deeper levels.
The problem with this is that the bone tissue underneath this veneer is not being replaced leaving the bone hallow inside and brittle. This is particularly so with the more spongy bone that comprise vertebral bodies and femur heads, as well as the jaw bone. Compression fractures in the spine, along with hip fractures, are prevalent in older women who have been taking Fosamax for a lengthy period of time. The femur head breaks off the femur causing the elderly person to fall down. It isn’t the fall that fractures the hip in most cases, but rather the hip fracture that causes the fall. Necrosis of the jaw bone is a more devastating side effect of Fosamax drug therapy.
OSTEONECROSIS OF THE JAW BONE
A more notorious problem with Fosamax administration is the incidence of osteonecrosis, deterioration of the jaw bone, a disease for which there is no known remedy for reversal. Fosamax has a half-life of ten years, so its presence is long lasting. Go to the link above and read more about this detriment before you consider taking Fosamax or any of the other alendronate products. For more information, simply Google Fosamax Problems or go to www.fosamaxproblems.com.
A MORE NATURAL AND SENSIBLE APPROACH
Basically, a more natural and sensible approach to preventing and reversing bone-loss is to support the bone remodeling process with nutritional protocols, as the video clip demonstrated. In postmenopausal women, estrogen replacement therapy is favored over Fosamax administration. Testosterone replacement therapy is available for men. I will save a discussion of the natural alternative to hormone and drug therapy for my next blog post. So, stay tuned . . . .
To your health and healing,
Dr. Anthony Palombo
Visit my second blog Healing Tones for more of my views and perspectives on health and on vibrational healing. Feel free to leave your comments and to contact me by email at email@example.com.
MedicineNet.com (Webster’s New World Medical Dictionary),
Peter J. Millett, M.Sc., M.D., Matthew J. Allen, M.A., Vet.M.B., Ph.D., and Neil Rushton, M.D., F.R.C.S.
Medical Education, Hospital for Special Surgery, Cornell University Medical College, 535 East 71st Street, New York, NY, 10021 USA
Orthopedic Research Unit, Box 180, Level E6, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK
JCEM (Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism)
EMBOJournal.com, and WikiAnswers.com