Q. I am 17 years old and was recently diagnosed with osteoporosis due to anorexia. I am hesitant to start taking a drug for osteoporosis because it seems that it can have bad side effects.
Have you heard about any natural remedies? I have seen a few studies online citing that ground eggshells can help replenish calcium and reverse osteoporosis, but I wondered if you had seen any information about eggshells or other at-home treatments. Thank you!
A. Osteoporosis can be a complication of anorexia. Because you are still young, you may be able to build bone back.
The first step is to provide your bones with the nutrients they need, and eggshells may play a role here. You also need to offer them a bit of a challenge in the form of normal body weight and weight-bearing exercise (walking, running, dancing, tennis or something else you enjoy besides swimming).
Although bisphosphonate drugs (Actonel, Boniva, Fosamax) can be helpful for older women with osteoporosis, it’s not clear that they are effective or safe for adolescents (Current Opinions in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity, December 2011).
Powdered eggshell can be used as a calcium supplement (British Journal of Nutrition, March 2002). Be sure to choose eggs from organically raised chickens and wash them well in boiling water before letting them dry. After a few days, break them into small pieces with your fingers and grind them into a powder in a coffee or spice grinder.
One eggshell provides roughly 800 mg of calcium, approximately a day’s worth. Taken together with magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin K, that should provide your bones with the building blocks they need to grow stronger. You can get magnesium and vitamin K from green, leafy vegetables, which also provide plant sources of calcium.
Good luck to you! Overcoming anorexia is a challenge, but with motivation and assistance, you can do it and help your body heal itself.
Q. Our family has had several bouts of respiratory infections this fall. Our 5-year-old daughter is still coughing through the night and keeping everyone awake.
We tried over-the-counter cough remedies, but they didn’t make much difference. My wife worries that they might not be safe. Do you have some home remedies you can send us?
A. You have reason to be cautious. The Food and Drug Administration has recommended against OTC cold remedies for infants and toddlers, and is still assessing their safety and effectiveness for older children.
We are sending you our Guide to Colds, Coughs and the Flu with details about cough remedies such as thyme tea, ginger tea, honey, elderberry and grape juice. Even chocolate chips may have cough-calming power.
Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (65 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. Q-20, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website: www.peoplespharmacy.com. Vicks VapoRub on the soles of the feet also may ease a child’s nighttime cough.