Paula SchneiderAccording to a report on the website, Eurekalert!, one of my favorite haunts, the vegetable lamb plant, once believed to bear fruit that ripened into live baby sheep, produces substances that show in preliminary lab experiments that might provide treatments for osteoporosis.

Dr. Young Ho Kim of the Chungnam National University in Korea points out that osteoporosis is a global health problem, affecting up to 6 million women and 2 million men in the United States alone.  Doctors acknowledge that keeping strong bones is a balancing act in the body between two types of bone cells:  osteoblasts, which build up bone and osteoclasts, which break down bone.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, some of the world’s most celebrated scientists believed the plant, known as Cibotium barmoetz, fruited into a newly born lamb, which then grazed on nearby grass and weeds.  Kim’s research group isolated compounds from this plant and showed that they blocked formation of osteoclasts in up to 97 percent of the cells in laboratory cultures without harmful effects on other cells.

Clearly there needs to be more research in this area, but there may be something helpful on the way if the research continues to show positive effects.  And, I invite you to do your own research into Cibotium barmoetz and see what you find.  I ran into some fascinating information on this plant along with the folk medicine practices and superstitious beliefs that accompanied it for many years.