Calcitonin, a medication to reverse bone loss

Calcitonin (kal-si-TOE-nin) sold under the brand names Calcimar, Cibacalcin, Calsynar, Miacalcin, Osteocalcin and Salmonine is a medication prescribed for the treatment of Osteoporosis. The medication is also used to treat bone loss from hypercalcaemia, Paget's disease and bone metastases.

If you were prescribed a bisphosphonate medications such as: ActonelBoniva , Fosamax  and you found that the prescription drug irritated your digestive tract, you may find Calcitonin  a good alternative.

There are two two main forms: Calcitonin-Human (kal-si-TOE-nin HYOO-man) which is injectable and and Calcitonin-Salmon (kal-si-TOE-ninSAM-en) which comes both in an injectable form and as a nasal spray. (Some people prefer the spray form.)

Calcitonin was first purified in 1962 by DH Copp and B. Cheney. These researchers published a report of their work in Nature. ( Copp DH, Cheney B. Calcitonin-a hormone from the parathyroid which lowers the calcium-level of the blood. Nature 1962;193:381-2.)

Frequently asked questions about Calcitonin:

  1. Exactly what is this drug?
    According to the Wikipeida Encyclopedia,"Calcitonin is a a 32 amino acid polypeptide hormone that is produced in humans primarily by the C cells of the thyroid". 
  2. What does the Calcitonin do?
    This  hormonal drug affects your calcium and phosphorus metabolism. The main effect is on bone.                                                                                              Your bones are constantly being remodeled. Old bone is removed by your osteoclasts cells and new bone is made by your osteoblasts cells. Calcitonin inhibits the activity of osteoclasts AND it promotes bone formation by osteoblasts. It also decreases mineral release and matrix or collagen breakdown in bone. As a result Calcitonin, has the effect of increasing bone density and that is why it is prescribed in the treatment of Osteoporosis.

What should I discuss with my health care provider before taking this drug?
There are a number of things you should discuss with your health care provider. It is important that you raise these things before the medication is prescribed.                             a.Allergies. Be sure to tell your health care provider if you have had any allergic reactions to other drugs, food, chemicals or other substances,                                              b. List of other medications or herbal supplements. Sometimes medications and herbal remedies can interact with each other. Be sure you mention all the drugs (both prescription and over the counter) and herbs that you are currently taking to your health care provider before you start taking Calcitonin.  This is important since your health care provider might need to change your dosage depending on what else you are taking.                                                                                                                       c. Practice. If you are going to be taking the injectable form of this drug be sure that you do a practice session in your providers office.   If you are going to be taking the nasal spray form, you want to be sure that you are aiming the spray correctly. Most health care providers are more than happy to be sure that you have 'good patient education' for the use of this medication.                                                                           d. Diet, nutrition. Be sure to discuss your intake of calcium and Vitamin D with your health care provider before you start taking this drug. This is important.  Your  health care provider advise you to take extra supplements. You could also be advised to follow a low calcium diet. So, please be sure to discuss your calcium and Vitamin D intake with your health care provider before you start this medication.          

How should I store the drug?

  1. Keep this prescription out of the reach of children and store it away from heat and direct light. Calcitonin-human should not be refrigerated but it should be stored at a temperature below 77 °F. You should use your prepared solution within 6 hours. Calcitonin-salmon should be stored in the refrigerator. Do not put it in the freezer. (Keep it from freezing.)   As with all medications, do not keep outdated drugs. If your prescription is outdated, contact your health care provider.
  2. Are there any side effect that I should be aware of? This medication seldom causes negative reactions. Sometimes the nasal spray may cause irritation. If this occurs, do contact your health care provider. If you experience skin rash or hives after taking this drug, contact your provider immediately.                                    Sometimes your body may take awhile to adjust to a new medication. If any of the following occur and continue for awhile, contact your health care provider to discuss it: Diarrhea; flushing or redness of face, ears, hands, or feet; loss of appetite; nausea or vomiting; pain, redness, increased urination frequency or Chills; dizziness; headache; pressure in chest; stuffy nose; tenderness or tingling of hands or feet; trouble in breathing; weakness soreness, or swelling at place of injection or stomach pain. 
  3. Many people have no negative reactions to this drug. Just because someone else has had a negative reaction, that does not mean that you will. BUT If you have rash or hives, do contact your health care provider immediately since this could be an allergic reaction. As for any other reactions, contact your health care provider if they does not go away after a short while.

Important discussion to have with your health care provider

There have been some studies showing that there may be a small increase in the risk of cancer for those taking this drug.  Do discuss this with your health care provider - especially if cancer has been a factor in your life or in the lives of relatives.  Your health care provider should be able to review the studies and discuss any risks with you.

In 2013 the Joint Meeting of the Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs and the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee issues a  long study/report about this drug. You can read it at Calcitonin Salmon for the Treatment of Postmenopausal Osteoporosis.  

Click here read about other drug treatments for Osteoporosis,Ostepenia 

You can find non-drug treatments at Natural treatments for bone loss