(non-med) BMD improvement success stories? - Bone Health

Bone Health
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(non-med) BMD improvement success stories?

wbiC
wbiC

Here's mine: BMD DXA results-

Jan. 31, 2018

L1-L4 0.723 g/cm2 [T-score -3.3]

Left Femoral neck 0.580 g/cm2 [-2.6]

Left total hip 0.724 g/cm2 [-2.0]

RETESTED on March 17, 2020

L1-L4 0.790 g/cm2 [T-score -2.7] a notable INCREASE in bone density of +9.3% (+4.4%/yr), instead of the more typical -1%/yr

Left femur neck 0.576 g/cm2 [-2.6]

Left femur total 0.708 g/cm2 [-2.2] "no significant change" (within the method's measurement error limit of 0.025 g/cm2)

Both BMD DXA tests were outside my country's normal healthcare coverage. However, since the first test revealed unexpected osteoporosis, I was not charged. Since my second test showed an unexpected improvement, I may not receive an invoice for that either (else, I'll end up paying $120-$140 Cdn for the second test, well worth it to me in any event).

(no meds at all) LIFESTYLE CHANGES: I discovered my first test results 8/2019 (my GP denied my having 'secondary' osteoporosis at the time of testing (perhaps he mis-read my test??), I only found this out on receipt of my medical file when he retired). I've now read nearly 1,000 articles/studies (or if there was a charge to view the whole study, merely reviewed the 'abstract') and have viewed several youtube lectures and exercise programs. I've been seeking safe, risk free ways to boost my bone strength and protect myself from fractures/falling. I'm still hopeful of buying an airbag safety belt to ensure protection of my hips if I fall - there have been no useful responses to my query here on that, yet.

On 9/2019 I dropped glucosamine/chrondroitin which I'd been taking for five years for knuckle osteoarthritis (on 9/2019 I discovered it boosts eyepressure, which may explain my being checked for glaucoma, and that it messes with liver chemistry which might mask the diagnosis of the cause of my 'secondary' osteoporosis). It's possible that several months of then not taking an osteoarthritis supplement may have allowed osteoarthritic growths in my spine to start (no symptoms) which might artificially boost my measured spine BMD). I've examined the test imaging and I can see no sign of that, but while I trained as an analytical chemist and am very comfortable with handling and discussing measuring instruments/procedures and results, I've no experience in interpreting bone x-rays.

I'd been consuming the officially recommended amounts of Vitamin D and calcium for decades. My initial additional steps became: improving my balance (via one-legged standing and similar balance challenges along with leg/hip strengthening in safe settings, 'heel drops', back extensor muscle strengthening (I'm very impressed by the much cited Saki [CORRECTION: "Sinaki"] study for strengthening/protecting vertebrae --but allow ample time to recover as the once/twice weekly routine's tiring), taking vitamin K2 (about 4x the minimum daily requirement), and replacing any calcium supplements I was taking with dairy servings. I had a subsequent near fall after a couple of months of balance training and my reaction time was far faster than I deserved saving me from a likely disastrous fall, to which I credit my balance routines sharpening my awareness, reaction time, and agility.

Much more recent steps (far too soon to have influenced my last month's DXA test) that I'm hopeful of further improving my bone density are: reducing my calcium intake to the safer level of about 900mg/day [based on 60,000+ patients in a study showing where under 400 mg/day and over 850 mg/day of calcium intake coincided with progressively higher likelihoods of osteoporosis]. And, since Asian (especially Chinese) populations have much lower incidents of hip fractures and though their hip anatomy is very slightly different (and might be an influence), their dietary silicon intake is acknowledged as a likely factor and is more than double that of our western diets. So, I've started taking two 6 mg/day BioSil capsules to boost my silicon intake while also consuming more grains, such as brown rice and oatmeal. After just five weeks, I've already noted my nails are less prone to cracking/splitting (an unexpected bonus). Another high silicon food is green beans, btw.

24 Replies
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Well done to you wbiC. You've certainly earned that and got your reward. Long may it continue for you.

That’s wonderful news! Thank you for detailing all that you’ve done. I shall look up the Saki study, having also found one leg stands and heel drops helpful for my balance. I hope your density continues to improve.

That sounds interesting and well done you. Could you give me a link for the Saki study, I’ve tried but can’t find it. Thank you.

Regrets but I miss-spelled the name, it's Sinaki, who has done several comparison studies of vertebrae and back extension exercises. eg. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/120... and more practically, see 'class 3' of iofbonehealth.org/exercise-...

Thank you for that, I’ll go read up now. I’m so impressed with your progress well done.

Thanks so much for sharing your impressive results with us along with information on your approach. Very happy for you :)

The reference to the Saki study -- do you perhaps mean the work of Mersheed Sinaki? I'll post links in case that's what you're referencing or in case anyone is interested in her research.

melioguide.com/wp-content/u...

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/882...

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/120...

wbiC
wbiC
in reply to wellness1

Thanks -- I'm limited to outdoor wi-fi and surfing's no small challenge due to brightness and my iff viewing of the screen on my ancient laptop, mild weather also permitting (very distracting, which was partly why I got the name wrong, normally I double check everything during posting, but the internet's much more challenging just now for me).

wellness1
wellness1
in reply to wbiC

No problem, I was browsing posts and I see that you posted about her research on another thread recently. I didn't need to jump in but as long as I have, I'll add another study by her concerned with yoga spinal flexion and vertebral compression fractures in case anyone is interested.

onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi...

I've been looking into this because a physiotherapist I'm seeing for an injury has given me 2 warm-up exercises aimed at increasing back flexibility, Pilates full body roll and cat/cow stretch. These sometimes turn up on lists of exercises to avoid if one has osteoporosis, so I questioned the risk of vertebral fracture and she asked me for the research. I gave her those links and she reviewed it and said she'd also read a study published in the last year. (I don't have the reference.) She thinks the risk comes with loading during flexion or combining rotation and flexion and thinks those two exercises will be fine for me.

Do you mind me asking how much K2 you are taking?

wbiC
wbiC
in reply to wellness1

one capsule which I think amounts to about 4 times the minimum recommended amount per day, I'll look it up next time I'm back home

yes, flexion's to be avoided (bending forward); really, sticking with 'neutral posture' for the spine is probably the safest route to go (hence, 'bend with the knees, not with the back')

wellness1
wellness1
in reply to wbiC

Thanks. Yes, I realise that there's general advice that flexion is to be avoided. But in looking for research that supports this, it appears to be flexion combined with loading or rotation. I can't find any studies that identify all flexion as a risk factor. I suppose the general guidance is broad since everyone's risks are different, depending on severity and location of osteoporosis and fracture history.

wbiC
wbiC
in reply to wellness1

yes indeed, severity's a factor. but 'load' can be our body's weight, along with just how 'bent forward' we are -- more is worse; weakened bone is mechanically at a disadvantage when just the leading edge (when bending forward) is what the vertebrae are resting on (seems likely to more than triple the stress on the vertebrae, than a safe 'neutral' posture imo)

wbiC
wbiC
in reply to wellness1

100 mcg natural factors K2 capsules

SUPPLEMENT capsules 100 mcg (0.1 mg) K2 Natural Factors brand, derived from Natto (fermented soy)

My retest lifestyle changes were from 10-11/2019 onwards: From 8/2019, it took 1-2 months for me to find, read, and digest enough studies and reports to confidently select some initial approaches that might help my osteoporosis. If the current positive effect of my efforts has not ceased, projecting the positive rate of change for longer periods, means the +9.3% improvement in bone density (instead of an expected -2%/2 yrs), had a net impact of +11.3% over the 5 months of non-med steps just before the retest. Over 12 months that would be an annual rate of +27%/yr increase. This effect so far has only been for my vertebrae. My hips/femur remain unimproved and vulnerable. Of course I'm hopeful they'll improve after a full year or two has passed (but, there's no hint of that from my retest result) -- I don't anticipate taking a further BMD test in less than a full one or two years from now.

A BMD increase suggesting +27%/year seems far beyond any recognized med approach. If any of my more commonly used non-med approaches had anything like that kind of result earlier, we'd surely have been aware of that already.

After re-reading the rodent study (biology's not my field, so I understand and grasp the nuances of such material better each time I re-read such a study), I think it very likely my BMD improvement was largely if not entirely due just to the twice daily 1/2 TBS of thyme (dried leaves) I was consuming, which I'd been sprinkling on my cooked lunch and dinner meals. Possibly, the effect was in combination with one or two of the other factors (so, if attempting to duplicate my result, you might as well include the other steps). While I'm confident such amounts of thyme are harmless, that's only my surmisal based on its widespread use for hundreds if not thousands of years, while still retaining a reputation so far as I know, as a generally beneficial herb. The only side effect appears to be that it's not tasting as spicey as it did initially. Try my approach at your own risk, of course.]]

wellness1
wellness1
in reply to wbiC

Thanks so much for your replies and for sharing the information you are posting. Sorry for the delay in responding. Had some problems keyboarding and wanted to go back over your timeline. That kind of BMD increase over such a short period is remarkable. Well done. I hope it continues and will include hip/femur. Hard to know the effects of any one thing in a multi-factorial approach, but introducing things slowly, one at a time to assess effect isn't an option for those of us who want results and are especially willing to try things that, as you say, 'can't hurt, might help'.

wbiC
wbiC
in reply to wellness1

Herbal Thyme approach: Thanks to COVID-19 and supply problems I've been without thyme for a month now (a forced 'herb vacation'). Yesterday I found a second source for thyme (dried leaves) at another grocer's. The different brand package has a suggested serving size of "1/4 TSP". My two 1/2 TBS per day was my wild guess at choosing something meaningful and likely low risk, but on seeing that amount is 12 times as much as "1/4 TSP", even in the context of fighting osteoporosis now makes it seem excessive to me.

So, I'm halving my thyme intake to 1/2 TSP of dried thyme leaves per meal and sprinkling it on my food for all three meals (instead of merely lunch and dinner). [ 3 TSP = 1 TBS ] I think the more spread out my intake of thyme is, the longer time it has to impact my digestion and strengthen my bones, which should offset halving the quantity.

My fatalistic perspective when I ordered the retest was that of expecting my hips/femur to be worse (due to the -1%/year typical impact of aging on our bones) and expected to give in to reluctantly trying bone meds. So on reflection, my 2nd DXA's result for my hips/femur of 'no change' 2.1 years later was really quite a good result for merely five months' of non-med efforts that included dried thyme leaves. That means the BMD's -1%/year aging effect over two years, so -2%, was countered by a +2% rate of improvement over 5 months (= 'no change' on the retest conclusion). If this rate of improvement continues, I expect: [24/5 x (+2%)] + (-2%) = +7.6% per 2 yrs, a +3.8%/yr projected rate of change in BMD for hips/femur.

wellness1
wellness1
in reply to wbiC

I did wonder, in the absence of relevant research, about the idea of an appropriate 'dose' to obtain a therapeutic benefit and whether there are potential concerns with 'overconsumption'. Most herbs and spices are consumed in small, varied amounts, mitigating potential risk. I did just a little bit of reading (skimming) and yes, there are some potential concerns. However, the main concerns I found were with oregano, borage, lovage, marjoram, some teas, honey and cumin seeds. It seems amount is important and one could consider fresh vs dried and cooked vs raw too, I suppose. You may have already looked into this and satisfied yourself, but I'll put some links here in case you or anyone else is interested.

The mention of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story is interesting, particularly this phrase: "[...] as he concluded that it must have been a contaminant in the initial chemicals that allowed his concoction to work [...]" You mentioned the possibility of pesticide contamination, but heavy metal contamination is also a possibility. Lead is found in soil, water and air and can find its way into the food supply. Because of the complex interactions of lead and calcium, storage in bones and effect on bone metabolism, I do wonder about this.

Potential Carcinogen? Pyrroloizidine Alkaloid Levels in Dried and Deep-frozen Spices and Herbs too High, Report Concludes

foodingredientsfirst.com/ne...

Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids in Food

cfs.gov.hk/english/programm...

The Role of Herbs and Spices in Cancer Prevention

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articl...

nothing cautionary about thyme, but interesting - there's a section on safety and upper limits

Dried Thyme Blend Recalled over Excessive Lead Levels

cleveland.com/cooking/2017/...

This is one particular brand from Syria, but speaks to the importance of knowing the source

wbiC
wbiC
in reply to wellness1

A blend (the last link) is more likely to have contaminants (as, there are more ingredients involved). Syria? Well, if I knew that were the source I'll admit to being really, really wary (I'd not expect stringent regulations there) -- few of our western foodstuffs are actually tested, (no small amount of trust's involved.

Larger stores/brands ought to be safer, as they've a reputation to protect.

Mine's currently via Walmart, a huge supermarket chain store, hopefully they'd be careful. [Too careful at times -- they no longer carry their store brand 1 kg popcorn kernels, the best deal in town by far, apparently because one of their popcorn lines was found at one time that it had unpopular contaminants -- too many insect parts / rodent hairs, if I recall correctly.

Some health authority actually does count up that kind of thing.] They were ridiculed in social media, and I guess that was that -- I'm now paying 2 to 4 times the price at other outlets -- popping popcorn' is one of my main treats]. For sure, lead is a serious contaminant if that were involved (12 .7 mg / 1/2 cup serving is a very concerning amount, for lead).

wbiC
wbiC
in reply to wellness1

I've added 'lead' to my next blood test request checklist, just in case I'm slowly accumulating a toxic level from too much thyme intake. At worst, I'll end up having to pay for the lab test as not being recognized as needed and covered for my official conventional medical care (perhaps $20 as a patient request).

Lead's a not uncommon contaminant -- eg. low amounts in rice occur (which was why until lately, I'd not made it a mainstay of my diet). While larger amounts of lead can cause really serious nerve/brain damage, ingesting regular small amounts is a concern as it's also a potential carcinogen.

wellness1
wellness1
in reply to wbiC

Serum testing of lead works for recent or ongoing exposure, rather than lifetime body burden. Since you've only been taking thyme recently, it might reflect any exposure you've experienced. Most lead is stored in the bones and the only way to measure that is by x-ray fluorescence. I doubt that's widespread or affordable. Mt. Sinai in NYC do it. (link below) There is hair and urine testing but I think that's mostly offered in the 'alternative' healthcare world. Since many of the members of this forum are post-menopausal women with osteoporosis, the relationship of lead, bones and illness might be of interest. I hasten to point out that I have no training or expertise in any of this! Just putting out some info in case anyone is interested in looking into this subject. :)

As you say, these contaminants are not uncommon. Rice is especially associated with higher levels of arsenic.

Lead as a Risk Factor for Osteoporosis in Post-menopausal Women

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articl...

Lead and osteoporosis: mobilization of lead from bone in post-menopausal women

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/316...

Relationship of blood and bone lead to menopause and bone mineral density [...]

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articl...

Bone Lead Test - K XRF (although this describes the test offered by Mt. Sinai, there is also good general information)

labs.icahn.mssm.edu/toddlab...

I find I'm unable to update my initial post, and wanted to add:

-same DXA machine/serial number used for both tests

-I forgot to mention I'd been taking 1/2 TBS of thyme twice a day with my meals (I was intrigued by: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articl... a recent study of rats and herbal impact on BMD (the sort of approach that appeals to me in terms of: can't hurt, might help)

wellness1
wellness1
in reply to wbiC

Are you taking 1/2 Tbsp of fresh thyme or are you taking thyme oil? That study mentions essential oil. I looked at some and noticed one said "harmful if swallowed". There is also thyme and rosemary infused oil for cooking, but I don't know if that's effective. Not sure exactly what would be best to take so I'm curious what you're taking. Thanks in advance.

wbiC
wbiC
in reply to wellness1

essential oil's far too concentrated to handle safely (needs a 'carrier'). but no, merely dried thyme leaves (eg. Canada's Walmart ~$2 / 50 grams is what I use, but they've been out of stock the past month so I've lapsed a month -- eBay & amazon have vendors of it -- which I'm contemplating using myself if Walmart keeps striking out).

Further to the rodent study:

A key element of 'the scientific method' is "reproducibility" -- you want to end up with a result that anyone can reasonably hope to duplicate as a way of confirming what happened. [eg. "Cold Fusion" where people got excited over suggestions of nuclear fusion energy being released at room temperature turned out to be a dud due to 'rose tinted goggles' and bad science/sloppy technique -- no one could duplicate that experiment]. Thyme's an herb that's grown pretty much worldwide, though undoubtedly there are species variations as well as major differences in growing conditions, which might well affect the proportions of its constituents, so it was useful of them to break down the thyme they were using so readers could see how it compared to local variations if pursuing the topic. If they'd instead been studying 'salt (NaCL)' or iron, a compound or an element, there'd be no value in such background effort other than to assure the reader they were dealing with pure or purified material. Another reason for getting into the chemical constituents is drug related: it's a step towards extracting and identifiying the 'active ingredient', which might be chemically altered enough to be patented and tested as a new drug or could form part of a trademarked proprietary concoction leading to a saleable product.

As an intriguing aside, I think of the scientific method as having arisen from Robert Louis Stevenson's fictional story "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde". <SPOILER ALERT> This is where a kindly Doctor Jekyll, a pillar of the community, had an urge to release his inner demon and sought an effective way of doing so and without consequences from society. So, he concocted a goodly batch of a cleverly composed chemical mixture that allowed him to transition to a cruder physical version of himself that lacked inhibitions, and once it wore off he'd revert back to kindly Doctor Jekyll. Worked great!

Except, as with many drugs, he was having problems with the scope of the transition -- his depravity over time as Mr. Hyde was getting out of hand, Mr. Hyde was looking for ways to not transition back to Dr. Jekyll, and, most worrisome of all: Dr. Jekyll was starting to suffer sporadic episodes of occasionally changing into Mr. Hyde without the concoction. Clearly, he needed to refine his experiment and how he used the mixture. But he was running low on his original chemical mixture so pestered chemical supply companies for replacement chemicals. He tried and tried but could no longer make a working mixture. Finally, towards the end of the story, he changed his plea to chemical suppliers as one seeking the original component chemicals if any existed anywhere, as he concluded that it must have been a contaminant in the initial chemicals that allowed his concoction to work (back in those days, chemistry was in its infancy and contaminants were far more common than today). He remained unsuccessful in his quest and if I recall correctly, he left a note and appeared to be intent on suicide as a way of escaping a life as Mr. Hyde.

When conducting a scientific study it is critical to define precisely what you're working with, contaminants if any included.

My view is: thyme is thyme. Though, I've a Strong Urge to stick with a proven brand, Walmart's Great Value thyme (available again today so I stocked up on it), just in case there's a one in a billion chance no other brand works. Thyme is readily available in grocery stores, ought to be harmless in rational quantities, and is the basis of a thoughtfully done successful BMD study involving rodents. That was enough for me to take it very seriously indeed, by 'cherry picking' it out of dozens of other such studies I came across, and embrace it as a "Hail Mary! pass" to try boosting my BMD.

I'd not lose sleep over the possibility there's a contaminant such as a pesticide being used for Walmart's thyme, and that it was the same pesticide that contaminated the rodent study, and that it is just the pesticide that's causing my BMD success (I'm confident such misuse of pesticides on foodstuffs is very unlikely these days and certainly not widespread). btw, I did not choose rosemary as the study showed a problem (minor bone cracks) with it. I did not choose thyme 'essential oil' (eg. by adding that to some olive oil--I actually have some thyme essential oil on hand, leftover from a much earlier unsuccessful try at reversing hair thinning using five essential oils) as I saw the essential oil approach (the amounts and quality/source in particular) as more nebulous / less reliably reproducible or useable by readers here (or myself months and years down the road). All that said: the bigger issue is not mere BMD (which is only one easily tested element contributing to bone strength) but, will the increased BMD result lead to a much lowered likelihood of fractures? That seems very likely to me, nearly a certainty, so I'm hopeful on that score.

As to my RETEST results:

I'd be concerned about my retest results being a glitch (arithmetic, or technique/eyesight since assessing x-ray imaging's involved), except that the initial test and the retest consisted of not one but three measurements each [I won't deny I'd be a bit happier if the same technician had done both tests but you can't have everything]. The same BMD DXA machine was used and that's The Critical Factor here. The retest results (unusually high improvement in vertebrae density, 'no change' in the hip/femur measures) are consistent once you factor in the expectation that as we age, we (in the absence of an unusual countering force such as meds, notable exercise or supplement success such as mine) much past age thirty lose something like 1% per year in bone density. The absence of that 2% loss in my hip/femur retest is very reassuring.

Always good to see another success story with non-drug ways of improving bone density. Have you seen my story? The links may in some cases be dated now, but what I did (and to a great extent continue to do) remains the same. healthunlocked.com/pmrgcauk...

I had been planning to ask for a third DXA scan this fall, but possibly covid has put paid to that. We'll see. Next year will be five years since the second one so I'll hope to get one sometime in 2021.

Good luck with your continued progress.

wbiC
wbiC
in reply to HeronNS

Out on the west coast, we're saying 'elective' surgeries and such may be brought back into hospitals on an 'as needed' basis, so it may not be so hopeless for you back east.

I see it as merely an administrative issue in the short term at this point, hospitals seem about 30% vacant just now. As the infection rate's slowed to doubling every 16 days up here that does suggest things will get more hectic in a month or two (just now, might be the time to see if you can sneak in your request). The vaccine is unlikely in less than 12-18 months, and I'll doubt any countries will try for the 'herd immunity' approach with something many times more deadly than the common flu.

For both my DXA tests I had to pressure my doctor to book it, along with agreeing to pay for it (as, both tests were outside their guidelines: '3 years before retest' along with 70 or older for the initial test for men). I've yet to see an invoice though (as explained earlier).

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