Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease
Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease that leads to weakening of bones and consequently an increase in the risks of suffering a fracture. In fact, nearly 75% of elderly people suffer declining bone density, and it is responsible for around 65,000 potentially fatal fractures each year in the UK.
Osteoporosis occurs when there is increased reabsorption of old tissue
Bone is a living tissue which is constantly repaired in the body - in other words old tissue is replaced with new tissue. This process includes absorption of old tissue and deposition of new material. Osteoporosis has been referred to as the 'silent epidemic' because symptoms often do not reveal themselves until a fracture occurs. The disease occurs when there is increased reabsorption of old tissue and new bone is not developed. Osteoporosis is hereditary, in fact genetic inheritance is the main cause, however it is also seen significantly in post-menopausal women. This is because estrogen, a hormone in women that protects bones, decreases sharply when women reach menopause, which can cause bone loss.
Turmeric works to reduce the rate of bone reabsorption
Recent research out of Genoa University has shown that taking a turmeric supplement improved bone density by up to 7% over a 6 month period. The active compound in turmeric, called curcumin, is understood to balance out cells that remove ageing parts of bone before it is replaced.
The study involved both men and women with an average age of over 70 suffering declining bone density but were otherwise healthy.
Turmeric increased bone density by 7%
Ultrasound scanning assessed bone density in the jaw, heels and fingers at the start of the study and again 6 months later. The results showed that those taking a daily supplement of turmeric increased their bone density by 7%.
Bone density is maintained by having the right balance of bone building cells called osteoclasts in the body. Osteoclasts work to 'mop up' ageing cells that need replacing. In older people osteoclast activity may outweigh the rate of bone replacement meaning not enough new tissue is deposited, thus bones become weaker.
The results of this study supports previous animal based research, which has suggested that curcumin possesses bone building properties by working to reduce the rate of bone reabsorption.
Turmeric supplements are more easily absorbed than the powder form
While these results are promising, the experts have pointedly warned that the positive effect is unlikely to be seen if you eat turmeric powder, as it's difficult to get the quantity needed as well as being less easily absorbed by the body. Therefore a daily turmeric supplement is advisable.
The results are also good news for those that may have been advised to take biphosphonate drugs, these drugs maintain bone density by reducing the rate of cell breakdown but if taken over a long period of time may cause bone 'microcracks'.