It’s the secret mainstream medicine doesn’t want you to know
Reverse osteoporosis by actually rebuilding bone
without the side effects of patent medicines
By Jonathan V. Wright, M.D.
One of the most abundant minerals on earth, strontium is present in the soil, air, water, fish, and most plant foods, especially cabbage, beets and Brazil nuts. Worldwide, humans estimated daily intake of strontium is 1–5 milligrams per day. Chemically similar to calcium, strontium is absorbed in comparable amounts. Once in bone, strontium beneficially affects both aspects of the bone remodeling process: It not only slows down the development of osteoclasts (the cells that take away bone) thus lessening bone removal activity, but also enhances the development of osteoblasts (the bone cells which build bone), thus increasing bone forming activity. Amazingly, these effects were discovered a full century ago. In 1909 and 1910, a German researcher reported his conclusion that strontium appeared to be uniquely effective in stimulating the rapid formation of bone. Ten years later, another German researcher concluded that strontium plus calcium was superior to calcium alone in mineralizing bone. Following these publications, conflicting reports were made about the effects of strontium, until a 1952 Cornell University research report concluded, “…the deposition of calcium plus strontium [in bone] is greater than the total calcium storage which can be achieved by calcium alone, regardless of calcium intake.” In 1959, Mayo Clinic researchers reported significant improvement in severe osteoporosis, and in 1986, a pioneer in late-20th-century strontium research published microscopic observations about how strontium works to improve bone building and bone density. After 1986, very little research on strontium was done or reported until just a few years ago. Since then, there’s been a research explosion and I’m recommending that anyone with osteoporosis add this mineral to his or her anti-osteoporosis supplementation program.
Post-menopausal? This is your must-have mineral!
Strontium’s ability to prevent early postmenopausal bone loss was evaluated in a 24-month double-blind placebo-controlled study of 160 postmenopausal women. All the women were given calcium (500 milligrams per day). Those who also received strontium ranelate (1 gram per day) increased their lumbar bone mineral density (BMD) by an average of 5.53 percent, a significantly greater percentage density increase than the women who were given a placebo. After two years, bone mineral density in the femoral neck (the neck-shaped area near the top of the femur) had increased 2.46 percent, and BMD in the hip had increased 3.21 percent in women given strontium ranelate, again a significantly greater improvement than that seen in those given placeboes. Plus, strontium was as well tolerated as placebo. Strontium was also shown to greatly benefit postmenopausal women who had already had a vertebral osteoporotic fracture. In a two-year double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving 353 Caucasian women, study participants were given either strontium ranelate (0.5, 1, or 2 grams per day) or placebo. All the women also received a daily 500-milligram supplement of calcium along with an 800 IU vitamin D3 supplement. At the end of the study, the yearly increase in lumbar BMD in the women given 2 grams of strontium ranelate was +7.3 percent. (A word of warning: Despite what these researchers recommended, never, ever take more supplemental strontium than calcium! Animals given more strontium than calcium in long-term studies have developed bone deformities.) During the second year of treatment, the 2-gram dose was associated with a 44-percent reduction in the number of patients who experienced a new vertebral fracture. Treating postmenopausal women who already had osteoporosis with strontium ranelate (2 grams daily for two years) resulted in an increase in these women’s lumbar BMD of about 3 percent each year.
A serious reduction in non-spinal fracture risk
The largest, most significant study of strontium to date is a five-year study that began in 1996 and included two clinical trials evaluating strontium ranelate’s effects on women with osteoporosis: (1) the spinal osteoporosis therapeutic intervention (SOTI) study, which had a study population of 1,649 patients (with an average age of 70 years) and looked at strontium’s effects on the women’s risk of vertebral fractures, and (2) the treatment of peripheral osteoporosis (TROPOS) trial, which included 5,091 patients (with an average age of 77 years) and looked at strontium’s effects on non-spinal fractures. Both studies were multinational, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials that included two parallel groups: women with osteoporosis who were given strontium ranelate (2 grams per day—please remember the above precaution regarding calcium) compared to a second comparable group of women with osteoporosis receiving a placebo. After three years of follow-up, the SOTI study revealed that strontium caused a 41-percent reduction in the women’s risk of experiencing a vertebral fracture compared to placebo. Even in the first year, the women’s risk of a new vertebral fracture was reduced 49 percent in the strontium group compared to placebo. Lumbar BMD increased 11.4 percent in the strontium group but decreased 1.3 percent in the placebo group. Making good news even better, strontium caused no adverse side effects.
Fracture risk dramatically reduced
The TROPOS study, which looked at the effect of strontium on non-vertebral fractures, showed a reduction in risk of 16 percent in all vertebral fractures and a 19-percent reduction in risk of major non-vertebral osteoporotic fractures. In a subgroup of women at high risk of fracture—women 74 years of age or older with low femoral neck bone mineral density scores—treatment with strontium was associated with a 36-percent reduction in risk of hip fracture. Strontium was also studied in 1,431 postmenopausal women with osteopenia (accelerated bone loss, an early warning signal for developing osteoporosis). In women with lumbar spine osteopenia, strontium ranelate decreased the risk of vertebral fracture by an average of 41 percent (by 59 percent in women who had not yet experienced a fracture and by 38 percent in women who had already had a fracture). In women with osteopenia at both the lumbar spine and the neck of the femur, strontium reduced fracture risk by 52 percent. Another recent review found strontium able to reduce vertebral fracture risk in patients with osteopenia and to reduce vertebral, non-vertebral, and hip fractures in patients with osteoporosis aged 74 years and older. A study involving 325 postmenopausal women with osteoporosis in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Malaysia, also confirmed strontium’s benefits. After one year of taking either 2 grams of strontium or placebo daily, bone mineral density in the lumbar spine, femoral neck, and hip in the women receiving strontium increased by 3 to 5 percent compared to those given placebo.
Potential problems with strontium ranelate
When researchers looked at the combined data from both the SOTI and TROPOS trials, they found strontium ranelate increased the yearly incidence of venous thromboembolism (blood clots) by 7 percent. They also found a few cases of DRESS syndrome (Drug Reaction with Eosinophilia and Systemic Symptoms syndrome), which they discounted as being too few to be a “real” problem. However, since death is a possible side effect of DRESS syndrome, for those affected, it is a very real, very serious side effect! Strontium is a trace element naturally present in the human body, so these potential side effects are very likely due to its combination with ranelic acid, which is supposed “poorly absorbed.” Since strontium is the active agent in building bone, why expose yourself to any risk of adverse events or pay the increased expense of a patented drug when natural forms of strontium are readily available.
Why go natural?
Pure strontium is chemically unstable, but it is found in Nature with natural chemicals that help stabilize it into forms such as strontium citrate, strontium chloride, strontium carbonate, strontium gluconate, or strontium lactate.
Safely taking strontium
Strontium improves bone mineral density and strengthens bone in a normal, healthy way. This mineral is so safe that it was the key ingredient in toothpastes for sensitive teeth, such as Sensodyne, which in the past included 10 percent total strontium chloride hexahydrate by weight, until the manufacturer made a very foolish decision to remove it in favor of a more toxic ingredient. Strontium reduces tooth sensitivity by forming a barrier over microscopic tubules in tooth dentin in which nerve endings have become exposed by gum recession.
However, since the quantities of strontium used in the studies are larger than those we might normally consume in our food each day, researchers wanted to check to be sure long-term use of strontium would not cause any alterations in the newly formed bone crystals or any other negative side effects. A number of studies have now addressed these concerns. Strontium has been shown to improve vertebral bone density and strength in rats without altering bone stiffness, indicating that the improvement occurred without causing abnormal bone crystals. In monkeys, strontium both decreased bone resorption (loss) and increased bone synthesis. In cell cultures, strontium not only increased the reproduction of bone-forming osteoblast cells, but also enhanced and increased the synthesis of collagen (the major protein in the bone matrix). In patients with postmenopausal osteoporosis, data from two large double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter trials of five years’ duration, strontium greatly reduced the risk of fractures without causing any adverse side effects other than a very occasional case of nausea or diarrhea. Data on patients who continued to receive strontium during an additional three-year extension of these trials indicates that strontium continued to provide protection against new vertebral and nonvertebral fractures for the eight years of therapy, improving bone mineral density at numerous sites, and increasing markers of bone formation while decreasing markers of bone resorption.
The main precaution is to make sure you’re taking more calcium than strontium! (Yes, this is repetition, but important repetition.)
Early 20th century research in animals shows that if strontium intake exceeds calcium intake over a long period of time, the animals develop bone deformities. Also, you will surely be at less risk for potential side effects if you take a natural form of strontium (such as strontium citrate or strontium lactate, as used by the Mayo Clinic researchers in 1959), rather than the patent medicine form strontium ranelate.
How much and which formula?
If you want to put strontium to use for yourself, how much should you use? Based on the current research, it appears that between 340 and 680 milligrams of daily elemental strontium works best. The smaller quantities will help prevent bone loss from occurring, while the larger doses can help treat osteoporosis. In the U.S. and Canada, natural strontium is available as an individual supplement, but you can also gain the benefits of strontium combined with other bone-building nutrients. I worked with Progressive Laboratories (800-527- 9512, www.progressivelabs.com) to develop an all-inclusive formula called Osteo-Mins. It combines strontium with other proven bone-building nutrients including calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, vitamins K1 and K2, zinc, copper, boron, silicon, manganese, selenium, and molybdenum. Because calcium competes for absorption with strontium, the formula is broken up into Osteo-Mins AM and PM. Also available for individuals on blood-thinning medication is a formula that does not include Vitamin K. Osteo-Mins is available at the Tahoma Clinic Dispensary.
References available upon request.
This article is taken from material published by Praktikos Books,
Edinburg, Virginia in the book Your Bones, written by Lara Pizzorno,
M.Div., M.A., L.M.T, and Dr. Jonathan V. Wright.
(also available at the Tahoma Clinic Dispensary and highly recommended
reading for anyone diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis)