Bone Remodeling and Osteoporosis

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.

BONE REMODELING

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 tpal70@gmail.com.

References:

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

Understanding Calcium Functionally

There is more calcium in the human body than all the other minerals combined.  More calcium supplements are sold than any other mineral, but most of them are not absorbed from the GI tract.  Once absorbed, calcium has to be ionized before it can be utilized.  Not all forms of calcium can be easily ionized by the body.  Let’s take a look at how this works from a functional standpoint. 

Calcium Functions

Calcium serves many functions.  It forms the foundation of bones. It provides fuel for muscle contraction. It is essential for blood coagulation and nerve impulse.  It is used by the immune system in “fighting” infections. In a deficiency of sodium, it is used to buffer acid and maintain normal pH in the body fluids and tissue.

Calcium does not stand alone, however, even in the formation of bone.  Calcium is balanced proportionately by magnesium (5/1) and by phosphorus (10/4).  Magnesium controls calcium absorption and provides lubrication for muscle contraction.  Phosphorus opposes calcium and holds it in solution where it is needed in liquid form.  It’s also a systemic acidifier, which is important to the absorption of calcium in the GI tract.

Bone Composition

Your body needs a lot more than calcium to manufacture bones.  Bones are made of protein, minerals and vitamins.  Minerals present in bone are: calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, silica, iron, zinc, selenium, baron, sulphur, chromium, and dozens of others.  In order for bones to absorb the minerals Vitamin D must be present.  Collagen is also part of the bone and provides a matrix for bone formation.  As you can see, if you’re concerned about your bone health, you’ll need to take a full spectrum organic mineral supplement and trace minerals.  I will cover this topic in my next blog post.

The Role of Phosphorus

Phosphorus holds calcium in solution.  If the ratio between calcium and phosphorus becomes imbalanced, problems will arise.  If there is not enough phosphorus to hold the calcium in solution, the extra calcium will start precipitating out of the body fluids.  If it precipitates into your kidneys, it forms kidney stones.  If onto your teeth, it is called tartar.  If it’s in your bones, it’s called arthritis.  If in your blood vascular system, it’s called arterial sclerosis or calcified arteries.  If in your eyes, it’s called cataracts. All of these conditions are symptoms of phosphorus deficiency.  We need to take a phosphorous supplement that does not contain calcium to raise the phosphorous level, such as Phosfood Liquid by Standard Process Labs ($17/2 fl.oz.).  If the calcium level is low, then we have conditions like dental caries, the erosion of the teeth.  Looking at it from the dentist’s standpoint, this is the systemic cause of dental caries: high phosphorous, low calcium.  This does not mean we have too much phosphorous. It just means we don’t have enough calcium to buckled the phosphorous.

Absorption

Calcium requires an acid environment in the GI tract for proper absorption.  People who have an alkaline GI tract just can’t absorb and assimilate calcium well.  Standard Process Labs makes a Calcium Lactate which is comprised of five grains of calcium and one grain of magnesium citrate.  This makes the pH of the total product 5.2, which is on the acid side. Seven is neutral, which straight calcium would be.

A word of caution about iron supplements:  Too much calcium in the GI tract prevents the absorption of iron.  Therefore iron and calcium supplements should not be taken together.

Ionization   

Calcium has to be ionized before it can be utilized in the body. To ionize is to give an electrical charge to a molecule being ionized. This is accomplished in the blood stream by our body’s enzyme system. The ionization of minerals makes them functional in our body tissues. If calcium is not ionized, for example, it stays in the fluid. The only kind of calcium you can ionize in your body is calcium bicarbonate.  Calcium lactate changes to calcium bicarbonate in just one step.  Whereas, limestone (calcium carbonate) goes through about a dozen changes to become calcium bicarbonate.  Don’t confuse calcium bicarbonate with calcium carbonate.

Calcium bicarbonate cannot be taken in a tablet form.  It is present in spring water, but if you put that same spring water in a tea kettle and boil it, the soft organic calcium bicarbonate changes to hard inorganic calcium carbonate, which is insoluble.  It precipitates to the bottom of the tea kettle in the form of limestone.

Calcium carbonate cannot be easily ionized in the blood stream and therefore is not readily available for use in the body.  It is circulated around and eventually deposited in muscles and on bones or turned into kidney stones for elimination.  Most commercial calcium products, including TUMS and ROLLAIDS, are calcium carbonate.  Some calcium products are formulated with calcium citrate which can be ionized, although not as easily as calcium lactate.

Chelated Organic Calcium 

Inorganic calcium becomes organic when chelated by the organic acids produced by plant roots, which absorb the calcium along with other minerals in a slightly acid soil. That’s why soil pH is very important in the vegetable garden.  Humus soil is very conducive to mineral chelation and absorption.  This is one of the benefits of organic gardening.

Getting back to calcium bicarbonate, you can’t make calcium bicarbonate tablets because as soon as you start drying the bicarbonate it changes to calcium carbonate.  So the closest that we can come to calcium bicarbonate is calcium lactate.

Calcium Lactate is one of Standard Process’ most popular products.  This is not a dairy product as it contains no whey or lactose and is safe for people allergic to milk products or lactose intolerant.  It’s also very affordable at $6 for 90 tablets ($20/330T, $42/800T).  For bone calcium, Standard Process mixes calcium lactate with a parathyroid base in a product called Cal-Ma Plus, which sells for $22/90T, $74/330T.  If you order through me by email add $13 for drop-shipping.

In my next blog post, I will explain bone resorption and remodeling and how drugs like Fosamax disable this process in a futile attempt to reverse osteopenia and osteoporosis.

Here’s wishing you a Healthy and Happy New Year!

Dr. Tony Palombo

References:  John Courtney, former head of Research & Development for Standard Process, Inc. for thirty years, now deceased.  His comments on products in the Clinical Reference Guide manual are adapted for use in this blog.