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If there’s one constancy in my approach to the body, it’s that all the body’s systems are connected, and depend on one another for proper function.   In effect, folks, there is no “thyroid” “adrenal” “brain” or “digestive tract”, except as different parts of a coordinated system.

If there’s another constancy, it’s how the conventional approach to health ignores this fact.  So here’s another example.  One more study, this one surveying 93,000 women, again showed a relationship between using anti-depressants (specifically SSRIs like Prozac and Paxil) and brittle bones.  The population on these anti-depressants had a 20% increase in spinal fractures, and a 30% increase in total fractures, over those who didn’t take the meds.  This followed other studies with similar findings, including one study of 5000 people showing double the incidence of fractures in the SSRI group.

These findings are not surprising, if we start with the understanding that serotonin is much more than a chemical that stays in the brain and has to do with bad moods.  Serotonin is involved in metabolism throughout the body, it has as many physical effects as emotional ones, and here are serotonin receptors in such diverse tissues as the gut, the sex organs and, yes, the bone marrow.  In fact, serotonin plays a critical role in bone growth and bone density. 

So why don’t we know about this?  I would wager that very few psychiatrists are doing bone density testing before prescribing SSRIs, or even asking about bone density.  Osteoporosis is listed as a side effect of SSRIs, but to no one’s surprise Eli Lilly (Prozac’s manufacturer) insists that it’s rare and that there’s no cause-and-effect proven.

Of course more studies need to be done.  That’s almost always true.  But the take-away lesson here is that no body system or organ, even one like the brain that we pretend is separate from the others, can be altered without affecting all the others.  That’s what I call the Metabolic Matrix, the web of interrelated functions that keep us in good health.

For more on the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, see my article on the subject. 

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