If someone told you that bone broth can build stronger bones, reverse autoimmune diseases, relieve arthritis, and possibly make your skin look suppler, would you get out a pot to boil some bones right now?
In my family, bone broth is a staple. Inherently nurturing and restorative, bone broth serves as a natural medicine. It’s no wonder bone broth is a cornerstone of Chinese medicine and the reason chicken soup is dubbed the “Jewish penicillin.” And these days—in part, thanks to the Paleo movement—bone broth has emerged as a super food.
Bones from beef, chicken, and fish contain a smorgasbord of amino acid-producing compounds, including collagen and elastin, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. In addition, the natural fat in bone broth makes these nutrients bio-available, meaning the body absorbs them more easily than if taken as supplements. Therefore, consuming bone broths can have tremendous benefits for your overall health.
Why Bone Broth Is Good for Your Health
Here is a list of health benefits you reap from consuming bone broth:
- Anti-Aging Help. Get ready to skip the Botox or over-the-counter wrinkle creams. You may be able to resist the effects of aging with bone broth alone, because one spoonful contains enough nutrients to keep your collagen and elastin production in full swing. In fact, studies from Japanese researchers show that the peptides formed from ingested collagen—prevalent in bone broth—can improve skin.
- Detoxification. Bone broth is rich in glycine, which allows you to detox naturally by keeping you stocked with important antioxidants.
- Adrenal Support. In Chinese medicine, the adrenals are considered part of the kidney system. Bone broth detoxes and nourishes the kidneys.
- Thyroid Sustenance. Fish heads contain thyroid-strengthening properties, so be sure to save that part of your fish for a robust broth.
- Bone and Joint Strength. Many women are concerned about getting sufficient calcium, especially when avoiding dairy. Bone broth contains gelatin and collagen, which strengthen bones and joints If you have brittle bones and/or achy joints, send bone broth to the rescue.
- Digestion. I have found bone gelatin to work wonders for patients with digestive issues. Gelatin can soothe the gastrointestinal tract lining and increase gastric acid secretion for ideal digestion. Bone broth also provides an abundant supply of the amino acid L-glutamine, which helps heal intestinal damage.
- Immunity. The white blood cells in bone marrow are a hotbed of added immunity, and they are abundant in bone broth.
How to Make Bone Broth
In general, broth is a liquid made by boiling meat and bones (and sometimes adding vegetables). Then, the liquid is reduced by prolonged simmering. If you often roast meat or poultry, save the bones. If you don’t, just ask your local butcher for some bones. Most are happy to give them away or sell them cheaply.
When choosing the bones for your broth, select grass-fed, pasture-raised animals and wild-caught fish because they have fewer or no toxic chemicals than their mass-produced counterparts. If you want, roast the bones first for a more intense flavor.
Bone broth can be made in a stockpot, a pressure cooker, or a slow cooker. Be sure to cook the bones until they are soft enough to cut with your own fingernails; that ensures their minerals leach into the broth. There’s no hard and fast recipe for bone broth, so feel free to improvise!
My Favorite Recipe
Here’s a recipe my family and I enjoy regularly.
Chicken Bone Broth
- 1 chicken (misc. chicken bones, chicken feet, neck)
- 4 quarts filtered water
- 2 small onions or shallots
- 1 bunch of fresh organic herbs
- 1 head of garlic
- 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp. sea salt
- 1 tsp. peppercorns
- 1 or 2 bay leaves
- Put all the broth ingredients in a large stock pot, and let sit for an hour.
- Bring to a boil, and get rid of any foam that rises to the top.
- Cook on a very low flame for 8-12 hours.
- Let cool.
- Separate any meat from the bones, and use for a soup or stew (or quesadilla).
- Strain the broth.
- Pull out the herbs and wash them well.
- Warm up a serving of strained broth to desired temperature (do not boil).
- Put your serving of broth and a large handful of herbs (for extra minerals and taste) in a bowl.
 Shanahan, C., et al. Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food. (Lawai, HI: Big Box Books, 2009), p. 267.
 Nomura, Y., et al. “Increase in bone mineral density through oral administration of shark gelatin to ovariectomized rats.” Nutrition 21, no. 11-12 (2005):1120-126.
 Barnett, M., et al. “Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis with oral type II collagen: Results of a multicenter, double blind, placebo-controlled trial.” Arthritis & Rheumatism 41, no. 2 (1998):290-97.
 Hering, N., et al. “Therapeutic options to modulate barrier defects in inflammatory bowel disease.” Digestive Diseases 29, no. 4 (2009):450-54.
 Jiang, X., et al. “Effects of berberine gelatin on recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis: A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial in a Chinese cohort.” Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology and Oral Radiology, Vol. 115, no. 2 (2013):212-17.