Vibrating Sheep

Making sheep stand on boards that wobble like washing machines is probably considered as a weird rather than useful activity. Yet it may lead to the provision of very effective treatments for thousands of osteoporosis sufferers.

If sheep are stood on gently vibrating boards for twenty minutes a day, the density of their thigh bones increases by around 34% in a year, compared to sheep of the same age who life out a completely unwobbly existence. The vibrations stimulate the bone into thinking it is working hard. In response to this it increases its bone density. The vibrations do not have to be strong to have an effect, they are at a level of about one thousand times weaker than those which can damage bone.

If the results seen on sheep are the same as those on humans this treatment could be a revelation in combating osteoporosis, for two reasons. Firstly it can be carried out on people who already have weak bones, as the strain placed upon them is not strong enough to cause fractures, unlike normal exercise. Also it is possible, that it could be the first treatment that will actually increase bone density in people already hit by osteoporosis instead of just slowing down bone destruction.