Dr. Lori Horan Soule, ND, LAc

Soule Health Care

3526 SW Corbett

Portland OR, 97239


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Newsletter Archive

Are you at risk for osteoporosis

September 29, 2011

Alexa is a 45-year-old woman who came to my office to inquire about her risk for osteoporosis. She described herself as being in “good health,” but had heard that her bones could be at risk since her mother had osteoporosis and had recently died of complications from a hip fracture. Alexa's question is a good one. Elderly women are not the only ones affected, and it is a good thing to explore before it's too late.

Osteoporosis is a porous bone condition that mainly affects hips, ribs, and the spine, although the entire skeleton may be involved. As bones become increasingly porous, they become brittle, and subject to pain, deformity, and fractures. There is a normal decline in bone mass after age 40, but it is accelerated in people with osteoporosis. Our bones are important for sturdiness in mobility, as well as bone marrow. They are storehouses for calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and trace minerals, which are necessary for body processes ranging from the beating of the heart, clotting of blood, and firing of nerve cells.

There is a strong link between family history and osteoporosis. Knowing this, Alexa was interested in practicing preventive medicine to keep from developing the same condition as her mother. Many people are under the impression that taking calcium is all that is necessary to halt bone loss, but osteoporosis is actually a complex condition involving hormonal, lifestyle, nutritional and environmental factors.

We started Alexa's bone health assessment with a bone scan to determine her baseline bone density. This was followed by another scan six months later to determine her trend for bone loss (this also shows whether someone needs to make adjustments in their health routine). The effectiveness of osteoporosis treatment can also be monitored later with a urine test, which measures bone collagen fragments, or the rate at which bone is being lost.

Alexa's anti-osteoporosis plan consisted of a basic commitment to practice bone-building techniques, and to avoid bone de-mineralizing activities. This meant she needed to exercise regularly, cut back on or eliminate alcohol and caffeine, eat five servings of low sugar fruits and veggies per day, add soy and ground flaxseed, and drink green tea. She also added the bone building nutrients vitamin D and Cal Apatite Plus, a formula containing calcium, magnesium, and ipriflavone, all of which support proper bone metabolism.

In the process of treatment we discovered her hormones were out of balance, which can also demineralize bones. Acupuncture was a significant part of Alexa's osteoporosis treatment. Through acupuncture we addressed her depression, her resistance to exercise, and her fatigue. We worked on balancing her body's organ systems in relationship to each other, which in turn balances mood, enthusiasm, and energy levels.

Alexa's bone mass actually improved six months after she started her anti-osteoporosis plan. After working with her hormones, depression, diet, and resistance to exercise, she felt better than ever. She thought she was in relatively good health before we started her plan. Now she knows what being in good health really feels like. Not only has she reached her goal of stronger bones, but she has achieved a pleasant side effect as well; she is feeling more balanced and healthy all over.

Are you at risk for osteoporosis?

There are several known risk factors for this condition. If you identify with any of the following, you may need to take boneprotective steps soon. You may be at risk if:

  • Your mother was fair-skinned, blue eyed, and thin.
  • You have a history of smoking or drinking more than one alcoholic drink per day, or more than 2 cups of coffee per day.
  • You are indoors frequently or sedentary (less than 4 hours/day on your feet).
  • You have a history of amenorrhea, anorexia, hyperthyroid, depression or premature menopause.
  • You have a nutrient-poor diet.
  • You have a history of steroid use, anticonvulsant medications, etc.

If you have reason to be concerned about your risk for osteoporosis, make an appointment with Dr. Lori Horan Soule for a bone health assessment. But be prepared to possibly experience better health in general as a pleasant side effect.

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