Osteoporosis is a bone disease characterised by a decrease in bone mass and density. The condition is common in women after menopause when hormonal changes influences the rate at which the new bone cells replace old cells. This results in the bones becoming porous with decrease in density.

Risk factors of osteoporosis include,

  • Advancing age
  • Menopause
  • Decrease in sex hormones
  • Genetic factors
  • History of fracture
  • Eating disorders
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Nutrient deficiency

Osteoporosis in Ayurveda

According to Ayurveda, menopause marks the natural transition from a pitta dominant phase of a woman’s life to a Vata predominant phase. When Vata is in excess, it has a catabolic effect on the body tissues. Ayurveda also correlates the condition as ‘Asthi kshaya’ which is considered to be one among the several consequences that can result from Dhatu Kshaya or the degeneration of the tissue. The condition can occur due to two mechanisms – the first due to the deficiency of nutrients that nourish the bone and the second due to the blockage of channels responsible for conveying the nutrition to the bone tissues due to the accumulation of Ama.

Both the causes require to be addressed for effective management of the condition. When Ama is present in the channels causing blockages and interfering with metabolism, no amount of calcium supplementation is sufficient. At first, the Ama must be removed and the metabolism of the bone tissue must be enhanced.

Ayurvedic recommendations for managing the condition

  • Ama build-up can be reduced and the digestive system can be strengthened with simple fasting or following a light diet appropriate for the individual. This will also enhance the absorption and assimilation of the nutrients necessary for healthy bones.
  • Avoid excess red meat and animal protein as an excess of this protein can create an acidic environment in the body which utilises the calcium in the body to balance the pH of the blood. Other acid-forming foods such as alcohol, refined sugar and refined flour should also be avoided.
  • Low fat foods are also advised against as vitamin D which is essential for bone metabolism is a fat soluble vitamin and cannot be absorbed without it.
  • Calcium-containing foods like whole and unprocessed milk, cooked green leafy vegetables like spinach, sesame seeds, amaranth etc. are recommended.
  • Bone nourishing foods that should be present in the diet include black grapes, radish, beetroot, sugar cane, garlic and ginger.
  • Chew a handful of sesame seeds every morning to provide adequate natural calcium to the body.
  • Gentle weight bearing exercises are necessary for encouraging proper bone formation. Daily dose of sunshine for synthesis of vitamin D is also advised.

Ayurvedic treatments for osteoporosis

  • Detoxification and balance of doshas with Panchakarma.
  • Regular self abhyanga with warm cold-pressed sesame oil is recommended for reducing excess Vata and thus to bring down its catabolic activity on the bones.
  • Pindasweda massage done with warm rice boluses that are prepared in milk and herbs and dipped in medicated oil helps remove blockages of Ama from the channels while also strengthening and toning the muscle, nerve and bone tissue.
  • Enemas using medicated oil is advised for conditions with extreme depletion and also as part of a deeper treatment program which involves cleansing and rejuvenation.