The skeletal system provides a basic framework for the support and movement of an individual. It consists of around 206 bones. The health and normal working of each and every bone is crucial for a body to survive healthfully on self-support. However, in the recent times, many problems and diseases have been reported regarding the skeletal health of people. Osteoporosis is one of them!
About 54 millions of Americans suffer from osteoporosis. It is common among women as compared to men. Osteoporosis means “porous bone.” In this condition, bones have an abnormal tissue structure and have large holes and spaces between the cells. The bones become less dense, lose their strength, and are more likely to fracture.
The internet serves with a lot of treatments and medications for osteoporosis. A lot of lists circulate around the globe advertising the preventive measures for osteoporosis which include physical exercises, dietary plans etc.
But a group of Chinese researchers has revealed Vanilla extract to be an effective alternative therapy against postmenopausal osteoporosis. Postmenopausal osteoporosis is one of the kinds of osteoporosis, the second being Senile. It occurs after menopause in women when the level of estrogen decreases in them.
The researchers’ team chose vanilla because some studies reported it to exhibit the estrogenic activities. Estrogen maintains bone mineralization and the process of remodeling them. It regulates equilibrium between bone forming and bone dissolving tissues. It was hypothesized that vanilla chemically named as the Vanillic acid could act as an analog for estrogen promoting the anti-osteoporotic conditions among women after menopause.
The experiment designed to evaluate the hypothesis employed forty female rats whose ovaries were surgically removed. These ovariectomy-induced rat models were supposed to mimic postmenopausal osteoporosis. They were divided into three groups,
- Group-A which was fed 50 mg/kg of vanillic acid daily for 12 weeks
- Group-B which was given 100 mg/kg of vanillic acid for the same duration
- And the last group wasn’t fed with vanillic acid at all.
The rats were weighed every week. Urine and blood samples, as well as the femurs and uteri, of all the rats were collected after twelve weeks. The researchers measured the mineral content and density along with the bio-mechanical strength of all the bones collected.
The ovariectomies or the surgical removal of ovaries led to a significant reduction in the mineral content and density of the bones as compared to the levels measured before the surgeries. However, the rats fed with vanillic acid had markedly higher levels of bone mineral density and content. The femurs were subjected to bend testing which uncovered the fact that the bones from the vanillic acid groups were more firm, stiff and strong in comparison to the others.
The researchers attributed the increased bone rigidity and strength to the vanillic acid. It was hypothesized that the vanillic acid acted upon the receptors of estrogen and promoted the growth of bone-forming cells which led to a higher level of bone mass, strength, and density.
Both dosages were found to generate positive results, but the researchers clarified that the greater amount of vanillic acid depicted the anti-osteoporotic activity more appreciably. Therefore, Vanillic Acid was recommended as an alternative therapy for treating postmenopausal osteoporosis by the researchers of the experiment.
Despite the plausible results, the study was acknowledged to be limited regarding various factors.
- The femur was the only bone taken under observation and other bones like tibia and vertebra were not taken into consideration.
- Moreover, femur too was not subjected to wide investigations and was generally studied under some simple tests.
The researchers claimed that these limitations will be accounted for in the future studies. They also added that extensive studies are still on way.