Important new finding on bone health

December 7, 2008

For the first time ever, a link has been made between the body’s production of serotonin in the gut and the production of osteoblasts, the cells that create new bone. Normally we associate serotonin with the brain and its role in our ‘feel good’ moods, but apparently a new study has found that 95% of the body’s supply of this molecule is produced in the gut and it is acting as a hormone to regulate bone mass,”

In an online paper published in the Journal Cell, a team led by Dr. Gerard Karsenty, chairman of the department of genetics and development at Columbia University in the USA have uncovered what could be a new way to control bone formation and treat could osteoporosis. Dr. Karsenty has found that gut serotonin is released into the blood, and the more serotonin that reaches bone, the more bone is lost. The reverse also applies; the less serotinin in the bloodstream then the denser and stronger bones become. As part of his study Dr. Karsenty was able to prevent menopause-induced osteoporosis in mice by slowing serotonin production. Osteoporosis is often dubbed ‘the silent killer’ because it is rarely diagnosed until the condition is established and bones start to break and fracture under little pressure. Conventional osteoporosis treatment has focused on preventing bone loss, such as with bisphosphonate drugs like Didronel, Fosamax and HRT, but unless action is taken to build bone then the situation eventually deteriorates. There are two more natural alternatives to such osteoporosis drugs, one of which is made known to us through this new study. Its findings have huge implications for osteoporosis treatment, as it could be a simple matter of regulating your diet. The basic building block for serotonin in the body is the amino acid tryptophan, which is found in red meat and turkey and in chocolate, oats, bananas, milk, yogurt, eggs, fish, poultry, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and peanuts. So if you have a tendency to osteoporosis in your family, which is one of the biggest risk factors, then aim for a diet low in tryptophan foods to help minimise your bone loss.

The other approach, that has been tried and tested by many osteoporosis sufferers, is to use the hormone that is essential for bone-building and that is progesterone. Its levels decline with age and it is a simple matter to supplement with natural progesterone cream, patches or tablets. Though notionally available on the NHS in the UK, it is more likely to be offered as a private prescription and it cannot be bought over the counter in the UK, though it is perfectly legal to import it for your own use. If you want to know more about this hormone, the book Natural Progesterone by Dr Shirley Bond and myself will answer all your questions (you will find it on my website) and you can find plenty of suppliers of the cream that Dr John Lee recommended including Wellspring who operate out of Guernsey and have a helpful website at


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