Natural Calcium for Osteopenia

Posted on February 9th, 2012 & filed in Alternatives to Chemical Medicine, Food as Medicine, Nutrition

X-ray of hip showing osteopenia

Osteopenia is a new buzz word when talking about bone density diagnostic testing. It is the term used to describe the density of bone that is lesser than normal. I consider it a borderline diagnostic term when compared to osteoporosis, which is demineralization or bone loss. After searching possible causes of Osteopenia, the most common reasons were extensive. The medical conditions directly related included many chronic diseases requiring medications. Medical treatments for chronic inflammatory disease include arthritis, and endometriosis for example and medically prescribed drugs including Prevacid, Heparin, Thyroid hormone replacement, diuretics and some studies show that some antibiotics may also be a risk factor for excessive bone loss.

Other significant findings of interest was that a phosphorus imbalance can occur when drinking carbonated beverages. They increase the amount of phosphorus so much that it upsets the delicate Calcium/Phosphorus balance necessary for good bone growth. Over the counter drugs containing caffeine and antacids are  also major culprits.

In response to a number of my patients asking for my opinion when their primary care physicians or ob-gyns are recommending Boniva, Fosamax or Evista, listed some very disturbing side effects. The two common/severe side effects most outstanding were osteonecrosis of the jaw bone and fracture of the femur or thigh bone. Spasms or twitches of muscles, joint pain, and cramps just do not seem like side effects easily tolerated especially when my patients asking are vibrant and conscientious avid exercisers who are finding Ca loss in spite of relatively good lifestyle choices. So I researched further.

“Experts rethink how to diagnose and treat a debilitating disease” was the subtitle of the New York Times (Jan 19, 2012) article titled Osteoporosis Patients Advised to Delay Bone Density Retests. It describes  a controversy of  testing every other year as the  general recommendation. Since osteoporosis takes a very long time to actually develop, some researchers believe that  retesting should be done with longer intervals in between. Similar recommendations for mammograms have changed due to recent findings. writes “Women tend to overestimate both their risk of developing breast cancer and the actual benefit mammography has in reducing the chance of dying from breast cancer. The absolute benefit of mammography is modest at best, but so is the risk of getting breast cancer in the first place.”

So maybe we need to take a closer look at the bone density testing procedure. Still it is not a solution just another unanswered question.

Further investigation led me to look at our drinking water after I came upon an article in Dynamic Chiropractic one of my chiropractic journals. It was a nutrition article about how hundreds of healthy and active centenarians live in areas designated as “blue zones” so I ordered the book. I will refer to it in future articles but now I quote Dr. Mehmet Oz, who has studied the lifestyle of these long-lived people, and attributes their longevity to their physical activity and the fact that they drink hard water, ie. water high in calcium and magnesium which helps maintain strong bones. By contrast, it is estimated that approximately 28 million people (1 in 9 or 10.29%) in the United States have osteoporosis and an additional 18 million have low bone mass. Many of these cases could be caused because the drinking water is too pure and does not have enough minerals to maintain equilibrium of the mineral ions in the bones. The situation is aggravated by the use of domestic chemical water softeners which substantially reduce the content of calcium in drinking water.

There we have it. Many, many good reasons why we see so much calcium loss in this country.

My objective is to find alternatives to chemical medicines at a time when patients are borderline or still have not opted the chemical route. For 20 years I have handed out lists of calcium rich foods with instructions to “stick to the fridge and try to eat as many of these as possible” These nutrient dense choices were all whole foods that were lower in calories yet highest in absorbable calcium.

My latest pick or recommendation for high calcium food is Nettles. It is also known as Stinging Nettle, due to its characteristic sting when touched in the wild. I always felt that it was nature’s way of making us pay attention to this wonderful medicinal and nutritive herbal plant. Besides its whopping 966 mg. of calcium per ounce, Nettles are a rich source of antioxidants, Vitamin A, C and E. It has anti-inflammatory properties, a good source of natural Vitamin D which is also important in the absorption of calcium. It is a source of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that benefits those who suffer from depression.

The stinging nettle is a supreme herb for rich mineral content including calcium, magnesium for bone building, potassium that combines with iron to oxygenate cells. It also contains silica for cell rejuvenation, healthy hair, teeth and skin.

Sounds to me like nettles negates all side effects listed when using the present day recommended chemical medicines. You decide.

To order Nettle Tea, Traditional Medicinal carries Organic Nettle Leaf , Pharmacopoeial Quality Herb , tested for Strenghth and Purity. I have been ordering it for patients from Deb at Natural Resources, Sevastopol CA. She could be reached at

Questions? Comments? Please feel free to e-mail the author at Thank you for your feedback in advance!