Welcome to our Member Interviews
Our first interview will be with Phyllis, one of our community contributors here at OsteoporosisConnection.com. Phyllis has graciously agreed to answer my questions about her experiences dealing with osteoporosis. So without further adieu, let’s all welcome Phyllis.
Phyllis, when did you find out you had osteoporosis?
I found out I had osteoporosis in 2005. I attended a local health fair and had the heel test. When it came back showing bone loss, I took the results to our family Dr. when I saw him a couple of weeks later. He then ordered a DEXA.
Did you have any secondary medical disorder that causes osteoporosis, like Celiac, thyroid, or mineral metabolism problems?
I have Graves Disease (hyperthyroidism) and believe that my bone loss came from being hyper before being diagnosed and treated. I feel the Graves is the cause since there is no family history of osteoporosis and I have none of the other risk factors.
What options did your doctor offer for treatment?
His suggestion was to take Actonel.
What initial treatment did you decide on and why?
I did take Actonel for a couple of months only because at that time I was uneducated to other options.
Did you experience any side effects, from your initial treatment, and did those effects - if any - change the course of your treatment towards another medication or supplement?
After taking Actonel for a couple of months, I started to notice small changes, very dry gritty eyes and a feeling of something stuck in my throat that I couldn’t get rid of. The only thing I could think of that was causing those things was the Actonel. I stopped taking Actonel and both of these symptoms went away.
Tells us what treatment you decided to take and how you are doing on it?
While I was taking the Actonel I continued to look for other options and found the one for me in Strontium Citrate. I’ve been taking it for over three years now and have never had any side effects. In the three years I’ve taken it the DEXA showed a 14% gain in bone density. Since DEXA machines can’t read strontium the results are over estimated, but even if it’s only half right I’ve still had a significant improvement. I went from the high end of osteopenia in my hips to almost normal and my spine has gone from osteoporosis to osteopenia.
How long have you taken your treatment and what lead you to this?
I’ve been taking strontium for over three years now. What initially lead me to start taking it was that it is a natural supplement, without the nasty side effects of the current osteoporosis drugs. I also liked that it has shown to not only build density but to also reduce fractures.
Does your treatment have any precautions that need to be followed; like diet, supplement combining, and medication restrictions?
The main thing to remember when taking strontium is not to take it close to calcium supplements or high calcium foods or the two will compete for absorption and that is not something you want to do. It is also recommended that it be taken on an empty stomach for best absorption. I am not aware of any other supplements or meds that interfere with it.
How long do you expect to take this treatment, and is there any recommendation to stop it at some point?
I’ve been taking it for a bit over three years and am not really sure how long I will continue with it. I will probably continue for another two years till I have the next DEXA and decide by those scores what to do.
What other things do you do for osteoporosis, like exercise, diet, mental attitude and supplements?
Like so many with osteoporosis, I try to do all the things I think will help improve bone density. But lets be honest, there are so many “right” things to do out there that it is a matter of finding what is right for you and then sticking to it the best you can.
I have always been a walker, so for me taking daily walks is both easy and enjoyable. On days I can’t get outside I use indoor walking videos. I also weight train several days a week using hand weights from 3 to 10 lbs. depending on what type of exercise I’m doing. I feel that weight training is just as important as weight bearing not only for the bones but for the rest of you as well. Something I have to keep in mind is that all we do around the house or yard is exercise. There’ve been times I’ve worked in the yard for a couple of hours, and then came inside and exercised more without even thinking about what I did outside. Raking, hauling, and picking up, it all adds up to exercise.
As far as diet goes, I try to eat a healthy diet that includes fruits, veggies, whole grains, dairy and lean protein. I also think small splurges on the goodies are ok too, everything in moderation. I try to eat a good diet, but supplement it with a multivitamin for the over 50 crowd, extra magnesium, calcium and D3, fish oil and of course strontium citrate.
A good mental attitude goes a long way in every aspect of your life. In regards to osteoporosis I feel it’s very important to keep this “I might break” feeling at bay. I may not do all the right things, but what I do keeps me feeling good about what may or may not ever happen. Having osteoporosis places a seed of fear in many people and if a person lets that fear grow it can impact a life in general; I choose not to live that way. I am fortunate that I’m basically a happy person. I have my down times like everyone else, but for me a long walk takes care of that nine times out of ten. A bad attitude doesn’t accomplish anything except to make you and those around you not very happy campers. Everything we do is a choice, we can choose to be happy and deal with what we have been dealt or choose to sit back and let life pass us by.
Do you think the study currently underway at UC Davis, on Strontium Citrate, will give more validity to over-the-counter Strontium Citrate if the clinical trial is a success?
The more studies that are done the better, and if those studies show that strontium is a valid treatment for osteoporosis, that’s great. Strontium Ranelate (Protelos®) is used in Europe and many other countries to treat osteoporosis. Their studies have shown that it is both effective in improving bone density and reducing fractures. If the UC Davis study enforces what is already known, then more people may be willing to give it a try. Many people are leery of trying something that their Dr. hasn’t recommended, and if this study can prompt Dr.'s to tell their patients about it then I feel it will have done some good for those looking for an alternative that comes with their Dr.'s blessing.
Do you think Strontium Citrate will be harder to obtain or more costly, if the FDA approves Osteologix’s Strontium Malonate?
I feel Strontium Citrate would still be available over-the-counter, but if I found out it would be taken off the shelves I would try to stockpile as much as I could for future use.
Like I said before, the good thing that would come from FDA approval would be that Dr’s could freely tell their patients about it as another choice for their osteoporosis treatment. My Dr. knows that I’ve been taking it, has seen my results, but still won’t tell others about it. He feels that since it isn’t FDA approved that he can’t in good faith tell others to take it.
Thank you Phyllis for a wonderfully informative interview!