Osteoporosis Alternative Treatments

Written by the Healthline Editorial Team | Published on October 3, 2014
Medically Reviewed by Brenda B. Spriggs, MD, MPH, MBA on October 3, 2014

Alternative Treatments for Osteoporosis

The goal of any alternative treatment is to find ways of managing diseases or healing without the use of drugs. Some alternative treatments and therapies may be used for osteoporosis. There is little scientific or clinical evidence to suggest that these therapies are truly effective. However, many people claim success with such treatments.

Always inform your doctor before beginning any alternative medicine or therapy. There may be interactions between some herbs and the medications you are currently taking. Your doctor can help coordinate an overall treatment plan that best suits your needs.

The following sections describe a few supplements and treatments commonly used to prevent bone loss.

Herbs and Supplements Used for Osteoporosis

While more scientific research is needed on the subject, some herbs and supplements are believed to reduce or potentially stop bone loss caused by osteoporosis.

Red Clover

Red clover is thought to contain estrogen-like compounds. Since natural estrogen can help protect bone, it follows that some alternative care practitioners may recommend its use to treat osteoporosis. However, there is no scientific evidence to show that red clover is effective in slowing down bone loss. The estrogen-like compounds in red clover may interfere with other medications and may not be suitable for some people. Be sure to discuss red clover with your doctor, if you are considering taking it.


The soybeans used to make products like tofu and soymilk contain isoflavones. These are estrogen-like compounds that may help protect bones and stop bone loss. It is generally recommended that you talk to your doctor before using soy for osteoporosis, especially if you have an increased risk of estrogen-dependent breast cancer.

Black Cohosh

Black cohosh is an herb that has been used in Native American medicine for years. It contains phytoestrogens (estrogen-like substances) that may help prevent bone loss. A 2008 study found that black cohosh promoted bone formation in mice. More scientific research is needed to determine if these results can be extended to treatment in humans with osteoporosis.

Acupuncture and Tai Chi Used for Osteoporosis

Acupuncture is a therapy used in traditional Chinese medicine. The practice involves placing very thin needles in strategic points on the body. This is believed to stimulate various organ and body functions that may aid in healing. This method is often combined with herbal therapies.  While anecdotal evidence supports these as complementary osteoporosis treatments, more studies are needed before we know if they truly work.

Tai Chi

Tai chi is an ancient Chinese practice that utilizes a series body postures that flow smoothly and gently from one posture to the next. Studies by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine suggest that tai chi might be able to promote increased immune function and overall well being for older adults. It may also improve muscle strength and coordination, and reduce muscle or joint pain and stiffness. A regular, supervised routine can help improve balance and physical stability. This may also prevent falls.

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