Osteoporosis is a degenerative disease,
causing brittle bones. It affects approximately 15 percent of
Australian women aged 60 to 64 years, rising to 71 percent in
those over 80 years of age. Incidence of the disease depends on
diet and exercise, medical problems and genetic makeup.
Hormones are crucial to bone density, which
can suffer during natural hormonal depletion during menopause.
Osteoporosis primarily affects women, with men to a much lesser
degree. However, current hormonal treatment for prostate cancer
has been linked to new cases of osteoporosis in men.
Continual synthetic hormone treatment can
interfere with the natural function of the pituitary gland to
produce hormones necessary for calcium and mineral content
necessary for strong bones.
The research project led by Anthony HS Tseng
of the Jiangsu State Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine,
Nanjing, has compared the effects of hormonal treatment,
acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and a combination of herbal
medicine and acupuncture in 100 mice. The mice's ovaries were
removed to block natural hormone production and cause the
After a month of daily treatment the mice's
bone density was tested, showing the hormonal treatment
increased the bone density slightly more than either acupuncture
or Chinese herbal medicine alone. However the group treated with
the acupuncture and herbal medicine combination returned the
highest bone density results.
Six months' research at the Jiangsu hospital
among women with osteoporosis reflected these results, with
patients reporting high pain relief with acupuncture and herbal
Tseng is set to continue the research in the
United States, concentrating on the combined acupuncture and
Chinese herbal medicine treatments for osteoporosis.
The 1994 Australian National Consensus
Statement on Prevention and Management of Osteoporosis predicts
that if nothing is done to reduce the risks there will be 20,900
hip fractures in Australia by 2010.