Here is the scenario. A woman seeks my services, concerned and even fearful after having been told she has osteoporosis and should take a bone drug. We sit down and after a careful review of her case, I am led to ask, “What’s the real problem here? Is osteoporosis really the major issue?” Quite often, the answer is “no,” and then I ask, “Should we start by addressing bone, or is it more effective to start on another level?”
Here’s an example that reveals why:
Barbara came to consult with me about her doctor’s recommendation that she should begin bone drugs. Barbara, a nurse, had suffered from an autoimmune disease for years that caused debilitating digestive issues. Between the ages of 47 and 50, she experienced an autoimmune flare that left her only able to eat a small amount of food at each meal. She became extremely debilitated and lost 25% of her body weight — and 14.9% of her spinal bone density — before she had identified dietary and lifestyle modifications that could quiet the autoimmune activity.
Her doctor’s insistence that she use bone drugs was based on this rapid decrease in spinal bone density. But Barbara was now 53, her digestive issues were better, and her most recent DEXA showed only an insignificant loss in the spine — she’d even gained a bit in the hip.
Was osteoporosis really the problem to address first?
We realized that Barbara’s spinal bone density loss coincided with her serious, prolonged problem with esophageal spasms stemming from her autoimmune disorder and its related allergic responses. Rather than concentrate on her bones, it made more sense to address her autoimmune disorder, which was the likely root cause of her bone loss.
Changing our focus was also important because while Barbara’s bone density had stabilized and her digestion was better, she was still experiencing occasional esophageal spasms, palpitations, chest pain, and fatigue. Any flare of these symptoms could lead to another bout of rapid weight and bone loss.
To help alleviate these concerns, I suggested Barbara undertake a partial elimination diet, alkalize her pH, use a few immune-enhancing and bone-building nutritional supplements, exercise, and meditate daily. Within one month, Barbara reported she was feeling healthier and stronger than she had felt in the past six years. Our plan now is to undertake a comprehensive Better Bones, Better Body program for building both Barbara’s immunity and her bone strength. “Nourish the root to receive the fruit” is an ancient aphorism I keep in my back pocket — in this case to Barbara’s benefit.
Barbara is happy to share this short video interview that she had with me. We both hope it will encourage each of you to look for the root causes of any excessive bone loss.
I’m Dr. Susan Brown. I am a nutritionist, medical anthropologist, writer, and speaker. Get my free weekly newsletter here.