Thanks to dairy marketing bureaus and their massive marketing budgets, most people think of dairy products to build strong bones. But eating more of these foods may not be the best way to boost your bone health and ward off osteoporosis. When it comes to building strong bones and preventing bone diseases, herbs really shine. Here are my top 4 herbs that build healthy and resilient bones:
Dandelion shoots (the stems, leaves, and flowers) are not only rich in the essential bone-building nutrient, calcium, they also contain plentiful amounts of boron, which is critical to strong bones. Dandelion shoots have one of the highest amounts of the mineral boron of almost any food.
Dried dandelion stems, flowers and leaves can be dried (or obtained already dried from your local health food store) and made into tea. Add one teaspoon of dried dandelion per cup of boiled water. Let steep for at least 10 minutes. Strain and drink three times daily for best results. Drink for three weeks then take a break for one week. Repeat.
Horsetail (no, not the tail from horses) is a uniquely thin herb with long, thin leaves whose shape resembles horse hair. Not only does the herb build strong bones, researchers found that it can prevent infections linked to fractures and osteoporosis. Published in the medical journal Cell Proliferation, the study found that horsetail improves the bone-building ability of osteoblasts. Osteoblasts are cells that create bone by laying down a matrix to which minerals bind to form bone. The scientists concluded that ingesting horsetail extract may be a good bone-building strategy.
Another study in the same journal only a few months afterward found that horsetail also prevented cells from breaking down bone, a process that can contribute to bone diseases like osteoporosis. Horsetail is also high in the mineral silica, which plays an essential role in strengthening bones. Add one teaspoon of dried horsetail per cup of boiled water. Let steep for at least 10 minutes. Strain and drink three times daily for best results.
Also known as stinging nettles due to the little, hair-fine stingers on the stalks of the plant, nettles are a nutritional powerhouse, containing an abundance of calcium in a form that is readily absorbed. Dried nettles do not exert a stinging action. Add one teaspoon of dried nettles per cup of boiled water. Let steep for 10 minutes. Strain and drink three times daily for best results. You can also add dried nettles to soups or stews to give these foods a nutritional boost.
Yes, those purple-colored flowers that pop up in your lawn are good for much more than mowing over. Research published in the medical journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that the compound called formononetin found in red clover helped prevent the development of osteoporosis in animals. And, fortunately, you don’t have to be able to pronounce this compound to benefit from it.
You can make a tea from dried red clover flowers by adding 1 teaspoon of dried flowers per cup of boiled water. Let steep for at least 10 minutes. Strain and drink 3 cups daily for best results. You can also add fresh red clover flowers to salads, or use red clover sprouts on salads, sandwiches, or wraps. Avoid picking red clover on lawns that have been sprayed or are close to high-traffic areas.