Cancer Patients Are At High Risk For Bone Loss. Chinese Herbs have been used historically and studied in modern times as a source of bone nourishing plant substances that can support healthy bones in patients at risk for loss of bone mass and debilitating painful fractures.
Here are some Traditional Chinese Herbs that have a long history of use for promoting normal healthy bone:
What is Bone Loss? Losing bone means that your nice sturdy skeleton starts to dissolve. It becomes so fragile that it can no longer hold you up. The bone becomes like lace lacking in minerals and essential proteins and can easily crumble and break. This loss of bone mass is known as Osteoporosis (literally porous bones), a condition in which the bone becomes fragile and prone to fractures especially in the hips, spine and feet.
Many cancers will travel from the orignal site, such as the breast and invade the bone. This is called bone metastasis. Keeping your bones healthy and dense may make your skeleton more resistant to tumor cell invasion.
Common Traditional Chinese Herbs Used to Promote Healthy Bone:
- Restore the Right Formula (You Gui Tang) containing Rehmannia (Shu Di Huang)
- Epimedium (Yin Yang Huo) Leaf
- Psoralea (Bu Gu Zhi) seed
- Tumeric(Curcuma Longa, Yu Jin) Modern research has also demonstrated that Curcumin from Tumeric affects the RANK ligand in bone. This is also associated with lower rates of bone loss as well as lower rates of bone metastasis.
Traditional Nourishing Stews Made from Vegetables and Tonic Herbs are a staple for recovery: Here is a Recipe: Chinese Restorative Blood Nourishing Stew
Common Causes of Bone Loss for Cancer Patients and Cancer Survivors
- Women are more prone to bone loss due to the effects of lower levels of estrogen associated with normal menopause as well as menopause caused by removal of the ovaries or chemotherapy and hormone treatments associated with cancer treatments. One loss due to treatment related menopause and the resulting loss of estrogen support for healthy bone. Many drugs actually block the effects of estrogen. Many women have their ovaries (the source of estrogen) surgically removed or permanently damaged by chemotherapy or radiation, leading to a decline in estrogen levels that are essential to strong and healthy bones.
- High levels of stress hormones which cause minerals to leave the bones
- Sedentary periods with less exercise during convalescence and recovery which also cause minerals to leave the bones. The actual work of holding up your skeleton and your muscles pulling on bones keeps your bones strong.
- Physical Pain from surgeries, tumors, scars, nerve and muscle damage from chemotherapy, hormone therapy and radiation side effects.
- Fatigue may be related to cancer treatment side effects or due to insomnia and loss of sleep associated with physical and emotional discomfort or even loss of muscle mass.
- Mood Changes such as anxiety and depression that are part of the cancer journey leading to lethargy and low motivation. (Getting yourself moving actually improves mood, so you may need to push yourself to give it a try with the permission of your health care provider and a buddy to keep you safe.)
- Dietary and Nutritional Factors: Cancer patients often suffer digestive disruptions leading to a poor intake of essential nutrients to support bone. A poor diet that is low in plant foods (fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds) combined with higher intake of animal protein, carbonated beverages can all contribute to bone loss. Your plate should be 50% vegetables!! Full of Color. Eat 20 gram or 4 oz of lean healthy protein at each meal. Certain nutritional deficiencies such as insufficient intake of protein, calcium, and Vitamin C as well as low levels of Vitamin D.Learn What To Eat During Chemotherapy Treatment and after Surgery.
- Osteoporosis (bone loss) is also associated with thyroid disease common in many cancer patients. Get your thyroid checked.
- Overuse of steroid drugs (such as prednisone and dexamethasone) which cause bone loss.
- Elevated Levels of Inflammation: Cancer patients generally suffer higher levels of inflammation both due to the presence of the tumor cells themselves but also due to inflammatory side effects of many cancer treatments. Inflammation is a major cause of bone loss as is will slowly destroy the collagen framework on which minerals lie to form bone. The bone minerals end up in your blood and are excreted in your urine instead of staying in the bone.
Men, Cancer and Bone Loss. Men who are cancer patients and cancer survivors are subject the same risks of bone loss as women. These men usually suffer from prostate, testicular and breast cancers. Yes..men get breast cancer too! While women are commonly screened for bone density and bone loss, men do not get the same essential screenings and must insist on thorough and complete care by asking for routine bone density monitoring through bone scans, blood and urine testing looking for evidence of loss of bone mass. Stay Safe. Practice Prevention. Identify bone loss before fracture occurs! Take Action to Keep Your Bones Strong.