Traditional Chinese Medicine in Osteoporosis Intervention and the Related Regulatory Mechanism of Gut Microbiome

Am J Chin Med. 2023;51(8):1957-1981. doi: 10.1142/S0192415X23500866. Epub 2023 Oct 27.


The gut microbiome (GM) has become a crucial factor that can affect the progression of osteoporosis. A number of studies have demonstrated the impact of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) on GM and bone metabolism. In this review, we summarize the potential mechanisms of the relationship between osteoporosis and GM disorder and introduce several natural Chinese medicines that exert anti-osteoporosis effects by modulating the GM. It is underlined that, through the provision of the microbial associated molecular pattern (MAMP), the GM causes inflammatory reactions and alterations in the Treg-Th17 balance and ultimately leads to changes in bone mass. Serotonin and many hormones, especially estrogen, may play a crucial role in the interaction of the GM with bone metabolism. Additionally, the GM may affect the absorption of specific nutrients in the intestine, particularly minerals like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Several natural Chinese herbs, such as Sambucus Williamsii, Achyranthes bidentata Blume, Pleurotus ostreatus and Ganoderma lucidum mushrooms, Pueraria Lobata, and Agaricus blazei Murill have exhibited anti-osteoporosis effects through regulating the distribution and metabolism of the GM. These herbs may increase the abundance of Firmicutes, decrease the abundance of Bacteroides, promote the GM to produce more SCFAs, modulate the immune response caused by harmful bacteria, and increase the proportion of Treg-Th17 to indirectly affect bone metabolism. Moreover, gut-derived 5-HT is an important target for TCM to prevent osteoporosis via the gut-bone axis. Puerarin could prevent osteoporosis by improving intestinal mucosal integrity and decrease systemic inflammation caused by estrogen deficiency.

Keywords: Gut Microbiome; Mechanism of Action; Osteoporosis; Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Density
  • Estrogens
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional
  • Osteoporosis* / drug therapy
  • Osteoporosis* / metabolism


  • Estrogens