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Wooly fern plant could treat osteoporosis, new research finds

Friday, October 30, 2009 by: S. L. Baker, features writer
Tags: osteoporosis, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) An illustration from an 1887 book depicts the fabled "Vegetable Lamb of Tartary" as a plant with a tiny furry animal coming out of a long stalk. The reason? This wooly tree fern was once believed to literally produce sheep. That legend no doubt came about because the plant has masses of wool-like fibers that emerge on top. It grows in mountainous areas of China, northeast India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Japan and has long been used in Asian medicine to treat rheumatism, muscle aches and pains, nerve pain, and body aches during pregnancy.

Now scientists studying the plant, known by its botanical name Cibotium barmoetz (C. barmoetz), have found evidence it contains several powerful phytochemicals. And these natural compounds could treat the bone-thinning disorder known as osteoporosis.

A research team from the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST) in Hanoi, Viet Nam; Chungnam National University in Daejeon, South Korea, and the Kyungpook National University's Skeletal Diseases Genome Research Center in Daegu, South Korea, analyzed the so-called "vegetable lamb plant" as part of a larger study of Vietnamese plant-based folk medicine. In all, scientist Young Ho Kim and his colleagues isolated eight compounds from an extract of C. barmoetz rhizomes. Rhizomes are horizontal underground stems that are involved in the vigorous reproduction of these fern plants. They send new roots out of their nodes and into the soil, resulting in new stems shooting up to the surface.

As reported in the October issue of the Journal of Natural Products, published by the American Chemical Society (ACS), four of these compounds showed remarkable properties when tested in the lab. They halted the formation of 97% of osteoclast cells (which break down bone) in laboratory cultures without harming other cells. That's important because normal strong bones depend on a healthy balance between osteoblasts (cells that build bones) and osteoclasts. If the production of osteoclasts is increased or if osteoblast production is decreased, then bones can become brittle and weak. So the C. barmoetz compounds might be able to treat osteoporosis by reducing an over-abundance of osteoclasts, thereby normalizing bone marrow function.

Osteoporosis is characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue which can make you susceptible to fractures. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 10 million people in the US now have osteoporosis (which literally means "porous bones") and almost 34 million more are estimated to have low bone mass.

As NaturalNews has previously reported, bisphosphonate drugs such as Fosamax which are widely hyped by Big Pharma as a solution to osteoporosis are rife with potentially dangerous side effects, including loss of teeth (https://www.naturalnews.com/News_000643_Fosam...), so-called "rotting jaw" disease, heart arrhythmias and more. In fact, research suggests these drugs actually weaken bones in the long run (https://www.naturalnews.com/025051_drugs_oste...).

Fortunately, a host of natural strategies can help keep bones strong including getting enough vitamin D from sunshine and regular weight-bearing exercise. In addition, studies have shown drinking green tea (https://www.naturalnews.com/027194_green_tea_...) and consuming grapefruit pulp (https://www.naturalnews.com/024899_grapefruit...) may help prevent and treat osteoporosis, too.

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