Degenerative Bone Disease. It sounds painful, doesn’t it? It is a phrase that I have been hearing a lot of lately. At first, it was just the 35 and older crowd -mostly women- that kept saying they had been diagnosed with it, but gradually the victims have gotten younger. In fact, just recently I heard about a 9-year-old little girl that had been diagnosed with it.
So, this then, is the newest medical ‘trend’. Frightening. Even more frightening is that most doctors are telling their patients that there is no way to reverse the disease or the damage it has caused. Instead, the best they can hope for is to control the pain with some prescription meds. ‘Experts’ tell you that osteoporosis drugs are the answer. Forget the dangerous side effects.
Degenerative bone disease is, for all intents and purposes, the same thing as osteoporosis. This is caused from a lack of calcium, vitamin D and other bone-building vitamins and minerals. Many people run to the health food store and stock up on some multi-vitamin that claims to have these ingredients in it, hoping to prevent this disease. You all know what I think about vitamin pills, right? This is not the answer. It is difficult for the body to process vitamins and nutrients that are not organic. Raw. In their natural state. In order to prevent this disease, you have to get these essential elements from your food, not from a pill.
But, that’s not where this blog post is going. We were talking about Degenerative Bone Disease. So, here’s how it works ~ our bodies, when kept in good working order, are designed to heal themselves. Skin, tissue, bone and blood will all repair and replenish themselves, returning to perfect working order even after the most severe damage. We have already dealt with healing skin and tissue, so lets talk about healing bones.
Like most people, I had always assumed that bones, once broken, never truly healed. Not back to the way they were before. In fact, when I broke my wrist I remember the doctor putting on that awful cast and telling my mom how careful I would have to be because that would always be a weak spot in my bone. Later, I learned that it was not the broken spot, itself, as much as the area just above and below the healed fracture that was the most vulnerable. Either way, things would never be the same.
Then, I decided to go and become an herbalist. In earning one of my herbalist certifications, I was introduced to the possibility that the bones are, in fact, capable of healing completely. Just like they were before they were damaged. With the proper treatment and healing methods, even a shattered, fragmented mess of bones could pull itself back together so you’d never even know it was harmed. Did you notice the big, dark italicized letters?
The body, when it is deprived of the things it needs to function (things like calcium and vitamin D), will start to pull these things from it’s storehouse – the bones. When that storehouse is depleted, the shell becomes brittle and fragile. Bones may break more easily, or even break off a single chip at a time.
It is not just depriving the body of the things it needs that is the problem, though. There are many other things that will cause the body to lose these essential elements faster. They will actually pull them from the body. Iodized salt, white sugar, caffeine and many prescription and OTC medicines are some of the worst culprits.
Coincidentally, it seems that in most cases of osteoporosis, or degenerative bone disease that I have heard about, bad diet and a history of prescription meds are prevalent. Without exception, when I asked about their eating habits many of them ate canned or boxed meals on a regular basis, were at least minimally overweight, and consumed high levels of meat, sugar and caffeine.
So, what to do to fix things? Treat the osteoporosis like it is a broken bone. Give it what it needs to repair and regenerate stronger bones. Of course, this isn’t always an easy thing. For some of us, switching to a raw food diet is just not an option. However, switching to a partially-raw-food diet is. That doesn’t mean to eat a rare steak, either. I’m talking raw fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains.
Here are some of the best foods and herbs to help your body help itself to heal from broken bones or even degenerative bone disease:
Bananas, cantaloupe, eggplant, cucumber, peppers, strawberries, avocados, cabbage, green foods (broccoli, kale, spinach)
And, don’t forget these bone-building herbs:
parsley, horsetail, red clover, alfalfa, kelp, rose hips, dandelion
But, you still need some vitamin D. Vitamin D is critical because it allows the body to absorb calcium. Without it, there is little chance of reversing bone damage. If you ask most people, they will tell you that your best source of Vitamin D comes from milk and other dairy products, or from one of those great-tasting cereals off the grocery store shelves enriched with Vitamin D. They would be way off the mark. In fact, there is very little evidence that dairy products help at all with vitamin D. In fact, most modern research shows that dairy products hinder the system in many ways. That’s a post for another day, though…
So, what to do? Simple really. Step outside. You know how I’m always spouting off about fresh air and sunshine? 10-15 minutes of sunlight on the face and hands every other day will provide you with the proper amount of vitamin D, among many other benefits.
Here’s the surprise, though. You would think that brittle bones mean you should stay away from exercise to avoid injury. This isn’t the case, either. Gentle exercises like yoga or tai chi will help strengthen not just the bones, but the entire body. It will stimulate the organs of the body to work properly, which in turn will allow the body to heal itself. It will help calm and focus the mind, which has been shown to speed the healing of the body. Plus, it just makes you feel good!
Finally, de-stress your life. Stress has been shown to promote health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, ulcers and other digestive disorders, depression and even with how the body absorbs and uses the vitamins and minerals it is given. I know, sometimes that is much easier said than done, but if your health is at stake then maybe now is the time to re-evaluate your life. Decide what is truly important and let the rest fall to the wayside. Take time to watch a sunrise. Take a drive in the country. Spend a night with friends. Laughter really is the best medicine.