Osteoporosis is an aging problem. The declining bone mineral density (BMD) enhances the chances of fractures during minor falls. Effective pharmaceuticals are available for a rapid improvement of BMD. However, hormonal treatment gives serious complications, and bisphosphonates may lead to odd fractures of long bones, resulting from excessive rigidity of the cortical components. Many medicinal herbs used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, known as kidney tonics, have been tested for their effects on bone metabolism in the laboratory and clinically.
Three of these, viz. Herba epimedii (, Yín Yáng Huò), Fructus ligustri lucidi (, Nǚ Zhēn Zi), and Fructus psoraleae (, Bǔ Gǔ Zhī) were chosen to form a herbal formula, ELP. ELP was tested on in vitro platforms and was shown to have both osteoblastic and anti- osteoclastic action. ELP tested on ovariectomized rats also showed BMD protection. ELP was then put on a placebo- controlled randomized clinical trial. BMD protection was obvious among those women with the onset of menopause beyond 10 years (P < 0.05).
A general protective trend was observed among all women under trial (P > 0.05). Although a thorough literature review on the herbal treatment effects did not give convincing answers to the use of Chinese herbs in osteoporosis, our study supports more research and trials in this area, while we are looking for safe and effective agents to keep the bone metabolism in a balanced state.
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