Plant used in traditional Chinese medicine linked to bone health benefits, in mice at least

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images / Caymia
Getty Images / Caymia

Related tags Osteoporosis Bone health TCM Traditional chinese medicine

Researchers from the Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine posit that extract of Forsythia suspensa may be used to treat postmenopausal osteoporosis, based on their observations of using the plant extract on mice.

The fruit of Forsythia suspensa​ is widely distributed in Eastern Asia and has been used in many traditional medicine cultures from the region to alleviate inflammation and treat gastrointestinal issues.

Its benefits for bone health, however, were still limited. The researchers observed the effects of feeding a water extract of F. suspensa ​to mice that have gone through an ovariectomy, which induces bone loss similar to postmenopausal human females.

“We showed that [the extract] inhibited osteoclast differentiation and suppressed estrogen deficiency-induced bone loss and lipid accumulation in bone marrow,” ​they reported in their paper, published last week in the journal Nutrients.

The mechanism of action remains unclear and requires further studies, but they argued that the phytochemical composition of the plant influences the expression and activation of signaling molecules.

Study details

The researchers observed mice in four different groups, each with five mice. The first group was a control group consisting of normal female mice, while the remaining three groups all had ovariectomized mice to induce bone loss.

Among the ovariectomized mice, one group received a low dose of the plant extract, another with a high dose, and the final group received no extract.

Extracts were fed through oral gavage once daily for four weeks.

To measure bone loss, the researchers performed histological analyses on femurs. They also analyzed the mice’s bone marrows.

They observed a compaction and thickening of the cancellous bone in plant extract supplemented mice compared to the mice not receiving the extract, indicating that the extract may alleviate ovariectomy—induced bone loss independently of estrogenic effects.

“Natural products and herbal medicines are gaining interest for their potential to improve bone health in osteoporosis patients and healthy individuals,”​ they argued.

“These findings provide evidence that Forsythia suspensa is an effective naturally derived alternative to standard therapies for the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis.”

Source: Nutrients
Published online, https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11081831
“Forsythia suspensa Protects against Bone Loss in Ovariectomized Mice”
Authors:​ Youn-Hwan Hwang, et al.

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