Many of you take bisphosphonate drugs like Fosamax, Boniva and others, for bone loss and you write to me with many complaints. If you watch television, you will routinely see advertisements for lawyers who now handle cases due to the reports of catastrophic reactions like osteonecrosis or femur fractures induced by the medication. It’s a terrible irony because these drugs are intended to strengthen your bones.
Here’s another idea.
Nobiletin (pronounced no-bill-ee-tin)
Nobiletin is different than strontium which I’ve written about before. (Click here to read about strontium). Nobiletin is a powerful “polymethoxylated” flavonoid that comes from the white stringy fiber and peel of citrus fruits (termed “pith”). You probably spit that out don’t you? Maybe you throw it away or put it in your compost pile! Tangerines and Mandarin oranges have awesome amounts of nobiletin, however other citrus rinds such as oranges, lemons, and grapefruit also contain nobiletin.
Nobiletin has been researched extensively over the last 10 to 15 years but not for the reasons I’m talking about today (your bones). Nobiletin is well known for it’s positive impact on cholesterol ratios. It is also touted to reduce inflammation. Citrus pith is a great binder of heavy metals too. Up until recently, all the nobiletin research was focused on cholesterol which is great news for those struggling with atherosclerosis and heart disease, or those of you supported on statin cholesterol drugs. FYI statin drugs include Lipitor, Zocor, Mevacor and others. Theoretically, you could take nobiletin along with these medications for enhanced effect but that is between you and doc! Back to the noble nobiletin 🙂
Nobiletin blocks the NF kappaB pathway which induces pain. This pathway is the gateway for pain and inflammation. Nobiletin has anti-cancer activity, confers brain protection and improved symptoms of Alzheimer’s in an animal model. Since I’m already on a tangent, I’ll also tell you that adolescents and adults dealing with acne may benefit by nobiletin because it blocks sebum production. Now, let me circle back to your skeleton because that is my main focus today.
Bone loss in humans occurs as the result of one of two things:
1) Either your bone cells fail to make new bone or…
2) You break down old bone too quickly
There needs to be a steady balance: Discard old bone, make new bone, discard old bone, make new bone. You probably didn’t realize your bones are not solid, they are dynamic throughout your lifetime. This is why taking up exercise is so helpful, your bones are not solid, they are kind of spongy if you think about it soaking up minerals and they have their own cells which are in constant flux (dying, birthing, dying, birthing, etc). Bones feel rock-hard but they are far from that and the important take home point is that you can always intervene through diet, supplementation and hormone balance.
Two major players affect the process of bone building. One is inflammation and the other is estrogen.
Chronic low grade inflammation and estrogen deficiency lead to osteoporosis.
It’s true that your thyroid hormone matters too, which declines as you age. Biologically active thyroid hormone (T3) regulates bone turnover and how well your bones take up minerals. Low thyroid hormone means you won’t incorporate any of that calcium you take (or magnesium and so forth). There are T3 receptors in osteoblasts and “growth plate chondrocytes” which represent primary cells in your skeleton. Without thyroid hormone, your bones slowly weaken so make sure your levels are normal. Clues that you have low thyroid hormone levels (aside from bone loss) is the feeling of always being cold, losing your hair, feeling anxious, holding on to weight or having sleep disturbances.
Research published in the Journal of Pharmacological Science showed very promising evidence of nobiletin on bone health. Scientists used rodents that had their ovaries removed (which causes estrogen deficiency). Nobiletin was given, and stopped the progression of osteoporosis. Not only that, it significantly restored bone mass in severely osteroporotic critters!
How you wonder? This natural citrus derived antioxidant suppressed pathways responsible for inflammation, namely the COX2, NF-kappa B, and prostaglandin pathways. That is just AMAZING when you think about the potential harm done by bisphosphonate drugs prescribed by almost every conventional physician in the country. By no means am I saying an orange a day will keep the hip fracture away! That is ridiculous! But, regular consumption of citrus fruits or pith-derived supplements might help, and can’t hurt. These supplements can usually be taken with medications. Please ask ‘doc’ if this type of supplement is okay for you just to be sure. Also, look online or at health food stores nationwide for brands as it’s not always sold in retail stores.
Nobiletin is sold as Sytrinol, or as “citrus bioflavonoids” and I want you to be real careful because some of the products contain “naringen” or “naringenin” which comes from grapefruit and this compound can dangerously spike your blood levels of many popular medications. If you take a lot of medication then you should avoid the naringen/naringenin. Even though I love natural supplements that work as well as medications, I want you to know that self-treatment with natural dietary supplements -even wonderful ones- may not be right for you specifically.
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Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.