There’s a saying in Chinese Medicine about “one disease, many cures; many diseases, one cure.” While there is no single panacea, one of our most widely recommended nutritional changes is for patients to start drinking bone broth. Maybe you’ve noticed broth trending in recent years. We practice a medicine that has stood the test of thousands of years, so I’m suspicious of most nutritional trends. But the recent attention on broth is well deserved. Whether a patient is coming for fertility or osteoarthritis, digestive complaints or anxiety (so often linked, but that’s another blog post), eczema or fatigue, broth is often (part of) the answer. So what makes broth so special?
Broth can be incredibly nourishing for your qi, blood, and yin, and it can boost yang, especially the digestive fire. Your digestive system essentially needs to turn everything into a 98 degree soup before it can start extracting all the beneficial components. It takes qi to make qi. So when you give your system something that is already in the form of 98 degree soup, it can more easily make qi and blood from it. Essentially, broth provides vitamins, minerals, collagen and other proteins in very bioavailable forms. Whenever the body is over-taxed, whether from strenuous exercise, chronic stress, childbirth, surgery or major illness, your qi is already depleted. And when your resources are stretched thin, broth can be the perfect way to gently replenish.
Broth features a range of awesome amino acids, including arginine, glutamine, hydroxyproline, proline, alanine, and glycine. While these protein building blocks can help with a range of tissue repair jobs from muscle to skin and gut to brain, how your body uses them depends a bit on what’s needed. They can benefit your muscles and joints (especially glucosamine & alinine), cardiovascular health (arginine), sleep (glycine) and the lining of your gut (glutamine). Consuming collagen doesn’t exactly equate to building collagen, but with time and consistency, gelatin-rich broth can give your body the components it needs to build that tissue too, making broth a useful addition to your beauty routine as well.
Consistency is key. Broth is a potent source of healing, but to see the benefits, you’ll have to commit to making it part of your routine. Luckily, it’s a delicious and satisfying habit to pick up. If daily or weekly seems too much, a monthly batch is a great place to start. A morning cup of broth can give you an energy boost that will sustain you longer than a coffee buzz. And it doesn’t have to be a complicated or expensive undertaking. It can be as simple as freezing your bones from whatever meats you cook regularly, until you have enough to put in a slow cooker for an overnight simmer. You can use the carcass from a roasted chicken or you can source special bones for broth-making (pig or cow knuckle bones are especially rich in collagen, and long bones from the legs of beef or lamb are rich in marrow).
Coming next, I’ll share one of my favorite broth “recipes”, though it’s really a loose framework that has much room for variation. I’ll also include notes on a few of the many different herb-as-food add-ins that you can incorporate to supercharge your broth. You can read Bone Broths: Part 2 (Recipes!) here.
Erin’s interest in Chinese herbs stems from her love for horticulture, primarily organic gardening. Her work with plants and the earth primed her for the mental shift of studying Chinese medicine, which has a similar ecosystem approach to health and the human body. As a certified herbalist, you can feel confident in reaching out to Erin with any questions via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Book a visit with Erin through our site here.