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Sandy Almendarez

February 22, 2011

6 Min Read
Bone-Building Botany

Curcumin, the principal curcuminoid of the popular Indian spice turmeric, is adding zest to bone health products as studies have shown it can prevent bone structure deterioration and improve BMD.1 And a 2009 study found it increased bone resorptive activity through the prevention the development of osteoclasts.2

On the flip side, osteoblasts increased their production of new bone with help from resveratrol, found in the skin of red grapes.3 The wine-friendly ingredient was also able to prevent ovariectomy-induced decreases in femoral bone strength, and the Japanese researchers said resveratrol acted in a similar mechanism as mammalian estrogen.4

Cissus quadrangularis Linn. (CQ), a plant used in folk medicine, when used as a petroleum-ether extract, reduced bone loss, as evidenced by the weight gain in the femurs of Wistar rats, and also reduced the osteoclastic activity thereby facilitating bone formation.5 Researchers concluded CQ might be a potential candidate for prevention and treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis, and the biological activity of CQ on bone may be attributed to the phytogenic steroids present in it.

Carotenoids are also linked to bone health as low levels correlate with brittle bones. Specially, serum lycopene concentrations were lower in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis than controls in a 2008 study,6 and lycopene capsules decreased the bone resorption marker N-telopeptide (NTx).7 A Tufts University study looked at several carotenoids within the Framingham Osteoporosis Study and found subjects in the highest tertile of total carotenoid intake had lower risk of hip fracture, and subjects with higher lycopene intake had lower risk of hip fracture and nonvertebral fracture.8 A weak protective trend was observed for total beta-carotene for hip fracture alone, but associations did not reach statistical significance.

Traditionally enjoyed in Asian cultures and growing in popularity in the west, soy is high in calcium, magnesium and boron, which offer bone benefits, but the isoflavones in soy foods may also inhibit the breakdown of bones. High consumption of soy products was associated with increased bone mass in postmenopausal women in a Japanese study.9 Genistein, the principal isoflavone, was associated with an increase in BMD in osteopenic postmenopausal women in a 2007 study, whereas placebo recipients experienced a decrease in BMD.10 An additional study from the same authors found similar results.11 Soy protein containing 83 mg of isoflavones (45.6 mg genistein and 31.7 mg daidzein) showed a modest benefit in preserving spine BMD in older women.12

A staple in the Mediterranean part of the world, olives, has oleuropein, a polyphenolic compound that may help slow age-related bone loss and osteoporosis, according to research published in Osteporosis International in 2011.13 The in vitro study of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from human bone marrow showed an increase in osteoblast differentiation and a decrease in adipocyte differentiation when there is oleuropein in the cultured media. Also, various osteoblastogenesis markers were higher in oleuropein-treated MSCs, as were ALP activity and extracellular matrix mineralization. The researchers concluded, "Our data suggest that oleuropein, highly abundant in olive tree products included in the traditional Mediterranean diet, could prevent age-related bone loss and osteoporosis."

Luteolin, a plant flavonoid found in celery, green peppers and thyme, markedly decreased the differentiation of both bone marrow mononuclear cells and Raw264.7 cells into osteoclasts, as well as inhibited the bone resorptive activity of differentiated osteoclasts in a Korean 2010 study.14 Oral administration of luteolin (5 and 20 mg/kg/d) in ovariectomized (OVX) mice caused significant increase in BMD and bone mineral content of trabecular and cortical bones in the femur when compared to OVX controls, and prevented decreases of bone strength indexes induced by OVX surgery.

Another flavonoid, quercetin may protect osteoblast cells from oxidative damage, according to a study published in 2010.15 Osteoblastic MC3T3-E1 cells, widely used as a model of bone building osteblasts, were treated with either hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) or quercetin, and the quercetin treated cells showed significantly reversed oxidative damage. Further results showed pretreatment with quercetin increased collagen content, alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity and calcium deposition of osteoblasts, compared with untreated cells incubated with H2O2. Pretreatment with quercetin also reduced the increase in bone-resorbing factor and oxidative damage markers (malondialdehyde, protein carbonyl and nitrotyrosine) induced by H2O2.


References are on the next page...


References for "Bone-Building Botanicals"

1.       Yang MW, et al. Curcumin improves bone microarchitecture and enhances mineral density in APP/PS1 transgenic mice. Phytomedicine. 2011 Jan 15;18(2-3):205-13.

2.       Hie M, Yamazaki M, Tsukamoto I. Curcumin suppresses increased bone resorption by inhibiting osteoclastogenesis in rats with streptozotocin-induced diabetes. Eur J Pharmacol. 2009 Oct 25;621(1-3):1-9.

3.       Li Y, et al. Resveratrol-conjugated poly--caprolactone facilitates in vitro mineralization and in vivo bone regeneration. Acta Biomater. 2011 Feb;7(2):751-8.

4.       Mizutani K, et al. Resveratrol attenuates ovariectomy-induced hypertension and bone loss in stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rats. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2000 Apr;46(2):78-83.

5.       Potu BK, et al. Evidence-based assessment of antiosteoporotic activity of petroleum-ether extract of Cissus quadrangularis Linn. on ovariectomy-induced osteoporosis. Ups J Med Sci. 2009;114(3):140-8.

6.       Yang Z, et al. Serum carotenoid concentrations in postmenopausal women from the United States with and without osteoporosis. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2008 May;78(3):105-11.

7.       Mackinnon ES, et al. Supplementation with the antioxidant lycopene significantly decreases oxidative stress parameters and the bone resorption marker N-telopeptide of type I collagen in postmenopausal women. Osteoporos Int. 2010 Jun 15.

8.       Sahni S, et al. Protective effect of total carotenoid and lycopene intake on the risk of hip fracture: a 17-year follow-up from the Framingham Osteoporosis Study. J Bone Miner Res. 2009 Jun;24(6):1086-94.

9.       Somekawa Y, et al. Soy intake related to menopausal symptoms, serum lipids, and bone mineral density in postmenopausal Japanese women. Obstet Gynecol. 2001 Jan;97(1):109-15.

10.   Marini H, et al. Effects of the phytoestrogen genistein on bone metabolism in osteopenic postmenopausal women: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 2007 Jun 19;146(12):839-47.

11.   Marini H, et al. Breast safety and efficacy of genistein aglycone for postmenopausal bone loss: a follow-up study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Dec;93(12):4787-96.

12.   Newton KM, et al. Soy protein and bone mineral density in older men and women: a randomized trial. Maturitas. 2006 Oct 20;55(3):270-7.

13.   Santiago-Mora R, et al. Oleuropein enhances osteoblastogenesis and inhibits adipogenesis: the effect on differentiation in stem cells derived from bone marrow. Osteoporos Int. 2011 Feb;22(2):675-84.

14.   Kim TH, et al. The effects of luteolin on osteoclast differentiation, function in vitro and ovariectomy-induced bone loss. J Nutr Biochem. 2011 Jan;22(1):8-15.

15.   Choi EM. Protective effect of quercitrin against hydrogen peroxide-induced dysfunction in osteoblastic MC3T3-E1 cells. Exp Toxicol Pathol. 2010 Sep 3.

About the Author(s)

Sandy Almendarez

editor in chief, Informa

Sandy Almendarez entered the natural products industry in 2009 when she joined Virgo Publishing (now Informa Exhibitions) as an assistant editor. Since then, she's worked her way up to editor in chief where she writes, edits and manages content for INSIDER. Under Sandy’s direction, INSIDER has won editorial awards from Folio: every year since 2014, including B2B Editorial Team of the Year in 2015.

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