'Lamb' Plant May Help Treat Osteoporosis

HANOI, Vietnam, April 1 (UPI) — The “vegetable lamb,” a plant that — legend has it — grows sheep as its fruit, shows promise in treating osteoporosis, researchers in Vietnam said.

Young Ho Kim and colleagues said strong bones involve a delicate balance between two types of bone cells — osteoblasts, which build up bone, and osteoclasts, which break down bone.

Osteoporosis potentially impairs bone marrow function. If osteoclast production is increased or if osteoblast production is decreased, bone mass is decreased.

A substance that decreases bone resorption, increases bone deposition, or both, is important for treatment of osteoporosis, Kim said.

Kim’s team isolated compounds from the plant — used in Vietnamese folk medicine to treat rheumatism, lumbago, neuralgia and sciatica — and showed they blocked formation of bone-destroying osteoclasts in up to 97 percent of the cells in laboratory cultures without harmful effects on other cells.

The article in the Journal of Natural Products says substances from the plant could be used in the development of therapeutic targets for osteoporosis.

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