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An ancient fermented food puts pharmaceutical drugs for bone loss to shame...
According to research published in the British Journal of Pharmacology in 2008, alendronate (Fosamax), raloxifene (Evista) and estradiol (estrogen, E2) are inferior to the phytoestrogen genistein commonly found in fermented soy*, red clover, kudzu, fava beans and coffee, in preserving bone mineral density (quantity) and strength (quality) in an animal model of menopausal osteoporosis.
Genistein has been extensively researched for its potential therapeutic role in osteoporosis prevention and treatment, as well as a mind-boggling 170+ additional health conditions. It is likely the main reason why soy, and particularly fermented soy, has been regarded as both a food and a medicine in Asian culture.
What makes this finding so groundbreaking is that genistein is a food derivative, whereas the three categories of drugs compared to it in the study are evolutionarily and biologically alien chemicals (xenobiotics) with profound, unintended adverse health effects. For example, the class of drugs known as bisphosphonates which include Fosamax have been linked to over 40 adverse health effects.
In essence, this study calls into question the multi-billion dollar "osteoporosis" and "osteopenia" industry's most lucrative commodities. Foods and food extracts, of course, do not lend themselves to being patented, which is why this study will likely never receive the multi-million dollar funding required to bring it to the level of a human clinical trial. Moreover, natural bone loss associated with aging has been over-medicalized. We explored this problem in the following article: "Osteoporosis Myth: The Dangers of High Bone Mineral Density."
*non-fermented soy contains genistin, whereas friendly bacteria in our gut or in cultured foods such as miso biotransform it into genistein.
The true value of this study becomes apparent when we look at the drugs in greater detail. Alendronate (Fosamax), for instance, was originally used to soften water in irrigation systems used in orange groves. It has the ability to ulcerate and puncture the stomach, which is why it is suggested it be taken with water and the person stands or sits up for half an hour. It has been linked to at least 19 serious adverse health effects, including bone fracture itself!
Raloxifene (Evista), on the other hand, has been proven to increase the risk of pulmonary embolism, venous thrombosis, sroke and coronary artery disease to name but only a few areas of grave concern.
Estradiol, though produced naturally in our body, may have cardiotoxic and carcinogenic properties when levels are too high, as may occur during pharmaceutically-based hormone replacement therapy, or when detoxification/transformative pathways are working sub-optimally.
Genistein has much weaker estrogenic activity in comparison to estradiol, and yet it is capable of binding to the same estrogen receptors for a much longer duration, which may result in significant positive effects when endogenously produced estrogen levels fail to meet the body's optimal requirements. Genistein is also highly selective, capable of binding and stimulating bone estrogen receptor sites (resulting in increased strength/density), whereas down-regulating breast density by taking up, and weakly stimulating estrogen receptor sites within breast tissue.
This enables the plant estrogen - paradoxically - to block out and/or reduce the proliferative activity of excess estradiol and related xenobiotic estrogen exposures. The same principle, also known as Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulation (SERM), has also been observed operative within the phytoestrogens found in flaxseed.
For Additional Reading
Relevant Video: The Shocking Truth About Bone Scans & Breast Cancer