Thursday, May 5, 2011

Herbs to Protect Your Bones

The bone breakdown that leads to osteoporosis is a normal event that occurs in humans as we age.  To slow its progression medical science suggests regular exercise, ingestions of calcium-containing foods or supplements.  A diet rich in vegetables, especially onions, has been found to decrease bone loss.  Recent research has found a few Bone enhancing herbs that can also be added to that regiment of bone protection.  Herbs and plants have been studies extensively for their value at reducing the risk of osteoporosis.  Some of the common herbs like sage, rosemary, and thyme have been found to inhibit the bone breakdown that contributes to osteoporosis.

Because these herbs are high in essential oils researchers also looked into the essential oils and component of these oils to inhibit bone breakdown.  This coupled with the knowledge that the minerals found in plants like calcium, potassium, and magnesium are important to bone health.  Also the vitamins K and C as well as phytoestrogens can contribute to bone health.

The essential oils that were found to inhibit bone deterioration, included sage, juniper, pine, eucalyptus, and rosemary. The components of these oils which was discovered to be doing the work were thujone, eucalyptol and camphor which can all be found in sage oil.  Menthol, thymol and medicinal turpentine were also found to inhibit bone breakdown.

So what to do with this information

The dried herbs used in the study were given at a does of 1 gram per day to a rat so scaled up that is 150 grams per day or 10 Tablespoons of dried herd.   The problem with large quantities of an herb is that taking too much can result in levels of toxicity, so until more studies are done, I would not try to use quite this much.  However there is probably nothing wrong with increasing the use of sage, rosemary and thyme in cooking and in teas. 

Here are a few recipes to get you started:

I make a tea I called S&G which contains Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme, you get the connection right?  S&G is Simon and Garfunkle.  I love that song and those musicians, so making the tea was not a big step.

If you would like to make a tea with these herbs, here is another possibility:

Thyme to Heal Tea
Thyme is a digestive aid, as well as a cold symptum releiver, so this blend can assist with stomach and cold issues.

1 Tbls. Thyme
1 Tbls. Red clover
1 Tbls. Sage
1 Tbls. Rosemary

Mix together and store in a tin or jar airtight jar.  Use 1 tsp. per cup of hot water and steep 5 minutes.

Hearty Herb Blend

2 parts dried rosemary
2 parts dried savory
1 part dried thyme
1 part dried majoram
½ part dried sage

Grind fine to use in a shaker or leave coarse.  Great salt substitute.  Good rubbed on roasts or added to stews.

Herbal Tub Tea

The ultimate treatment is one in which you soak your entire body.  I make and market four different
tub teas/bath bags, but I have crafted many more.  They are a great way to enjoy the healthful benefits of your garden and really are simple to make.  You can use a muslin bag or a tea ball.  And if you are feeling gifty you can package them cutely in a tea cup or mug.

Making tub tea really depends on what benefits you want to access.  In this case since we want to increase our bone health I have chosen two blend with our needed herbs:

Stimulating - Rosemary, lavender, peppermint, lemon balm
Cleansing – sage, thyme, lemon verbena, green tea

Once you have crafted your combination of herbs, shoot for a total volume of about ¼ to ½ cup, place them in a cotton bag, coffee filter, or square of fabric.  This giant tea bag can be placed in the bath where the warm water will cascade over it as you fill the tub, or you can make a stronger more healing infusion by boiling the tea bag for 15 minutes in a small sauce pan with about 1 cup of water, then pouring the resulting tea into the filled tub.

~Marcy Lautanen-Raleigh
copyright 2011

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