Osteoporosis and mum
Being post-menopausal has given me lots of reasons to pause for thought over my own health. Never in a million years did I think that osteoporosis would be in my family.
Over 8 years ago my mum, who had been in immense pain for a long time was finally diagnosed with osteoporosis. Along with the diagnosis, she was told that she had five fractures in her spine. Later we discovered that there were seven.
The truth is, she put other people’s needs first and then when dad died she turned her attention to her pain.
The specialist in Spain prescribed her something called teriparatide, which is something that helps bones to form. It is also a synthetic version of the human parathyroid hormone, which is produced by the parathyroid glands. To find out more click here.
At the time, we discussed at length how she was feeling. I can tell you, rough only just scratches the surface. Since taking the drugs, plus extra calcium and vitamin D she was feeling sick all day, had heart palpitations and could barely concentrate. She was worried that this drug was interfering with her Thyroxine and Zantac. She cannot bear to live without either.
So being the daughter I am, I needed to find out more about all of this, not least, I started to worry that at 52 I should be aware of the facts and look after myself better. Little did I know that fate would deal me two fractures six years later.
Some simple facts about this amazing system
- Parathyroid glands control the calcium in our blood and bones, and therefore control how much calcium is in the bones.
- To ease confusion the parathyroid does not have anything to do with the thyroid which is located near it. The thyroid regulates your metabolism.
- The body needs calcium for the conduction of electrical currents to the nerves. Our brains and our muscles need calcium.
- Blood passing through the parathyroid glands detect the amount of calcium and tells the body to make more or less parathyroid hormone.
- Bones store calcium and when there is too much parathyroid hormone the bones will leach calcium. Calcium makes bones hard.
- Magnesium is an ally of calcium as it is needed to increase the absorption of calcium from foods. Magnesium also converts vitamin D into its active form in the body and helps fix calcium in the bones. A magnesium deficiency can cause loss of calcium and potassium which causes premature aging of the skin, depression and irritability[i].
- It is well known that menopausal women reduce the amount of oestrogen that they produce, which causes a decline in bone density. In her book Passage to Power Lesley Kenton demonstrates and reveals much useful information to help this group create a balance. She cites the following “ It was Jerilynn Prior & her colleagues reporting in the New England Journal of Medicine who confirmed that oestrogen’s role in osteoporosis prevention is only a minor one. In their studies of female athletes they found that osteoporosis occurs to the degree that they become progesterone deficient even though their oestrogen levels remain normal.”[ii] It was confirmed that progesterone is the bone tropic hormone.
- Parathyroid hormone also helps us to absorb calcium from our diet.
- We also need vitamin D to absorb calcium from our diet. Vitamin D comes from foods and exposure to sun. Decreased levels result in impaired calcium absorption, which in turn causes an increase in PTH.
- High body calcium limits the absorption of vitamin D, thus decreasing the amount of calcium that can be absorbed the intestines.
Wow, such a lot of information to take in. And back then I didn’t know what I know now… More on my journey in another blog.
All I could think of, given my mum’s symptoms was that there was a possibility that there was another cause for her acid tummy, which could be her parathyroid glands and that giving her loads of drugs without finding the source of her originating problem would mean that the right treatment for the osteoporosis was also not being given.
Yes, I know I am not a doctor or an endocrinologist, I haven’t been trained as they have, but I can understand systems and processes, I am logical and can reason things through and my belief back then and still is that she should have gone back to square one and find out what her PTH, calcium, vitamin D, oestrogen and progesterone levels are and then find a suitable way forward.
Over time, she tried some tablets which were dreadful, then she found something that was amazing, but after 5 years it was taken off the market. After that, she went for an annual infusion called Reclast.
When my spine fractured, I refused drugs and took a natural approach, which I will share another time.
When something like this arises, you must choose what is right for you. Mum chose drugs and later looked at her diet. I as ever went natural…