Are You At Risk For Osteoporosis?

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove – Pathways to Healing

As many as 54 million Americans have low bone density, and many of them don’t even know it. Ten million Americans have such low bone density they actually have osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both. Advanced osteoporosis usually presents with symptoms such as bone pain, backache, curvature of the upper spine presenting as a hump, and loss of height from vertebral compression fractures. 

However, osteopenia (characterized by low bone mineral density that is not extreme enough to be called osteoporosis) and early-to-middle stages of osteoporosis are silent diseases that have no symptoms. A diagnosis of osteopenia or osteoporosis is often found accidentally, such as when a bone is being x-rayed to determine the existence of a fracture. Typically, when low bone mass shows up on an x-ray, as much as one-third of the person’s bone mass has already been lost.

You could be at risk for low bone density and osteoporosis if you:

  • Are a woman – especially if you’ve had a hysterectomy or are postmenopausal
  • Are over 50 years old
  • Have an inactive lifestyle
  • Have amenorrhea because of extreme exercise
  • Have a history of an eating disorder or under-eating for many years
  • Are a heavy user of alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, sugar or carbonated beverages
  • Have a chronic health disorder such as diabetes, malabsorption condition, celiac disease, or hyperthyroidism
  • Are small-boned and consistently below normal weight for someone your size
  • Are, or have a history of, taking certain prescription medications long-term, such as steroids (cortisone and prednisone), certain birth controls and anticonvulsants
  • Have a history of cancer treatments, including chemotherapy or radiation
  • Are deficient in certain key nutrients, including vitamin D, vitamin K, calcium and magnesium
  • Have a low level of testosterone – even if you are a woman
  • Have a family history of osteoporosis, fractures or bone disorders

The only way to truly detect the bone loss associated with osteopenia is with a bone scan – most commonly a low-radiation DEXA scan (Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) of the hip and spine. A bone scan can detect even small changes in a person’s bone density.

Our bodies are constantly making new bone, however, as we age, we tend to start losing more bone than we create. The good news is, it’s never too late to focus on bone health. Here are a few simple ways you can help increase your bone density naturally:

ExerciseExercise, especially “weight-bearing” types, is needed to keep muscles strong, sustain skeletal strength and help maintain bone density. Weight-bearing exercises include any type of exercise that forces you to work against gravity.  Weight-bearing exercises require your bones and muscles to support your body weight, while also enhancing coordination and balance. (Coordination and balance are important for preventing the slips, falls and accidents that wind up causing a serious fracture or injury.) Examples of weight-bearing activities include walking, dancing, yoga, skiing, tennis, body weight exercises using resistance bands/cables, or even lifting soup cans. Aim to do weight-bearing exercises at least 3 to 4 times per week for 30-60 minutes in duration.

Eat a Bone-Healthy Diet – Focus on eating bone-healthy foods that are high in vitamin D, vitamin K, calcium and magnesium. Incorporate a variety of green leafy vegetables like kale, bok choy, broccoli, and cabbage. (Spinach should be avoided as a source of calcium, because it is high in oxalates that bind calcium.) Fish, such as sardines with small, edible bones, are an excellent source of calcium and oily fish, especially wild-caught salmon, are a good source of vitamin D. Other great sources of magnesium and calcium include: almonds, sesame seeds/sesame butter, beans and legumes, avocadoes, and dark chocolate.

Keep in mind that while eating foods high in vitamin D, vitamin K, calcium and magnesium is encouraged, it can be difficult to get the ideal amounts from your diet alone. This is primarily because the amounts of these nutrients in foods can vary widely. For example, a study of the vitamin D content of salmon found an average of only 240 IU of Vitamin D3 in farmed salmon compared to an average of 988 IU vitamin D3 in 3.5 ounces of wild-caught salmon. 

Optimize Vitamin D Levels – Vitamin D helps the body improve calcium absorption. Spending most of your time indoors and avoiding the sun may mean that your body isn’t making the vitamin D it needs to help maintain bone mass.

It is best to obtain Vitamin D naturally by exposing your bare skin to sunlight for about 15-20 minutes every day.

If you are at high risk for osteopenia or osteoporosis, talk to your doctor about having a bone density test (DEXA) and check your vitamin D levels. No matter the current state of your bone health, incorporating these simple tips today can help you prevent fractures or complications in the future.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Frankincense: The “King” Of Essential Oils

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Frankincense oil has been prized since ancient times. Just the mention of it likely brings to mind the Christmas story – frankincense was among the gifts offered to the newborn Jesus by the wise men.  Its value in ancient times surpassed that of gold, and frankincense was often traded and used by those in North Africa, the Middle East, and Egypt. In fact, there are records citing frankincense as a valuable trade commodity as far back as 3,000 BC.

But can this ancient oil still benefit us today?

Frankincense oil is derived from the dried sap, or resin, or the Boswellia tree. The resin is then steam distilled to create a potent – and pricey — essential oil. Frankincense is one of the few essential oils to contain sesquiterpenes, enabling it to go beyond the blood-brain barrier and help stimulate the limbic system in your brain. The oil has a woody, earthy, spicy and slightly fruity aroma that is calming and relaxing.

Frankincense has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties. The use of frankincense can be traced back to Hippocrates, a Greek physician credited with being the “father of medicine.” Hippocrates used frankincense oil for numerous conditions including toothaches, leprosy, indigestion, chronic coughs, hemorrhoids and the healing of wounds and sores. Other ancient civilizations, such as the Egyptians, used frankincense for perfumes, embalming fluid, and even facial treatments.

Today, frankincense is still effective in reducing pain and inflammation. In 2009, a study published in Phytotherapy Research, found Boswellia extracts inhibited pro-inflammatory molecules involved in joint cartilage degradation. Another study published in PubMed in 2012 found frankincense oil was found to have antinociceptive (pain sensation-blocking) properties in animals. Researched published in BioMed Central’s open access journal for arthritis showed significant improvement in osteoarthritis symptoms in as little as seven days after using frankincense.

Frankincense has also been shown to improve immune function, help fight infections and cleanse and detoxify the body. According to a study published in the Journal of Oncology, frankincense was able to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells. Other studies have shown frankincense may help in the treatment of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, asthma, and anxiety.

Frankincense helps healthy cell regeneration and keeps existing cells and tissues healthy. This oil may help with aging by rejuvenating the skin, reducing the appearance of blemishes, razor bumps, scars, and stretch marks. I add a couple of drops to my face moisturizer every morning!

Frankincense oil can be used topically or diffused through the air. Both methods are very effective since the molecules of the oils are so small that they easily pass through the skin or the olfactory system into the bloodstream, where they can begin to protect and heal the body. After entering the bloodstream, essential oils are circulated to the tissues and organs in the body, and then into the lymphatic system. The oils will typically last anywhere from 12-24 hours and will eventually be eliminated through normal body functions. When essential oils are combined with massage they can have a longer lasting effect, up to several days.

Like many essential oils, frankincense should be combined with a carrier oil prior to applying it directly to the skin. Frankincense is generally safe, however, it is always advised to do a spot test first to check if you have any sensitivity to the oil. Applying 3-6 drops of frankincense oil to the bottom of your feet (along with a carrier oil) can balance your mood and promote feelings of relaxation, peace, and overall wellness. The oil is also quickly absorbed when applied behind the ears and on the wrists. For infants and small children, the oil should be diluted with a fractionated coconut oil (about 1-3 tablespoons of fractionated oil to 1-3 drops of essential oil for infants and one teaspoon of carrier oil to 1-3 drops of essential oil for children ages 2-5.)

Frankincense oil and clove oil can be diffused together to boost your immune system, protect you from getting colds, or to help you recover more quickly if you do catch a cold.

 

 

 

 

 

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.