Osteoporosis is a medical condition that affects millions of men and women. People with this condition have low bone mass, which places them at increased risk for bone fracture after minor trauma. The surgeries and treatments required to repair and heal bone fractures involve long recovery periods and can be expensive. Because osteoporosis occurs frequently in the elderly, the financial burden it places on society is likely to be large. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has approved several drugs for use in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. However, all of the currently available agents have severe side effects that limit their efficacy and underscore the urgent need for new treatment options. One promising approach is the development of alternative (nonpharmaceutical) strategies for bone maintenance, as well as for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. This review examines the currently available nonpharmaceutical alternatives that have been evaluated in in vitro and in vivo studies. Certain plants from the following families have shown the greatest benefits on bone: Alliceae, Asteraceae, Thecaceae, Fabaceae, Oleaceae, Rosaceae, Ranunculaceae, Vitaceae, Zingiberaceae. The present review discusses the most promising findings from studies of these plant families.