I think most of us are familiar with the stereotype of older people having thin bones. There is a valid scientific reason for the stereotype.
Bone is living tissue with holes inside. The inside of your bones looks like a honeycomb. Throughout your life, your bones continuously regenerate in a process called “Remodeling”.
First, specialized bone cells called osteoclasts break down bones. Then another type of specialized bone cell called and osteoblast replaces the removed bone with shiny new bone cells.
Before age 20, most people’s osteoblasts out number their osteoclasts so bone density increases. At age 25 bone mass is at its peak and after age 25, the osteoclasts take over, and bone density slowly declines. This is normal.
However, at about age 65, in many people the coordination between osteoclasts and osteoblasts breaks down. The osteoclasts count races ahead of the osteoblasts and bones break down bones much faster than they can be repaired.
This mismatch results in the disease “osteoporosis.” Bones affected by osteoporosis have larger holes and are more fragile.
Most doctors recommend compensating for this condition with calcium supplements. That’s not a bad idea because, of course, calcium is needed to regenerate bone.
But what about the flip side of the equation? Is there anything to be done to slow the breakdown of bones?
A new study published in the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry this past May suggests that the herb Gynostemma may be the answer.(i)
Researchers studied the effects of gypenosides, (the active ingredients in gynostemma) on osteoclast formation. They found “(Gynostemma pentaphyllum) GP significantly inhibited the formation of osteoclast, as well as suppressed the expression of osteoclastogenesis‐related marker proteins.”
In short, in lab tests, bone tissue exposed to Gynostemma leaf extract had lower numbers of the cells that break down bone tissue and lower quantities of the proteins associated with the creation of those kinds of specialized cells.
This is a lab experiment, and we’ve been disappointed before when promising lab test failed to produce the same results in clinical trials. However, given the many other clinically proven benefits of Gynostemma and the absence of adverse side-effects, anyone concerned about maintaining strong bones should consider giving gynostemma a try.
Besides, it tastes good!
(i) Jiakai Han, W. Gao, D. Su, Y. Liu, "Gypenoside inhibits RANKL‐induced osteoclastogenesis by regulating NF‐κB, AKT, and MAPK signaling pathways", Journal of Cellular BioChemistry, May 24, 2018.