Lately I’ve felt a lot like a Jewish grandmother. Not my Jewish grandmother, Nanette, per se, but a kind of stereotypical character. One who would recommend chicken soup for almost any ache and pain.
Two of the most common things I see in my practice are digestive issues and musculoskeletal problems (back pain, knee, pain, arthritis, etc…). If you are suffering in one or both of these areas, there is a good chance that cooking up a bone broth and eating it every day could do you worlds of good.
I find myself recommending this over and over again to my patients. I sometimes picture myself in a kitchen with an apron on, hair tied up in a bun, dishing out soup, and wondering why it has taken the medical community so long to come back around to what our grandmothers knew decades ago, and the ancient Chinese have understood for millennia.
Soup made from cooking animal bones (chicken, beef, lamb) has tremendous healing properties when you make it correctly (there is a recipe at the bottom of this article) and use well sourced animal products (organic and grass fed).
When I was in Naturopathic Medical school, we were shown x-rays with bizarre objects lodged in the colon. Was it cancer? Some other rare and unusual disease? Nope. Undigested calcium supplements. Bone broth is chock-full of calcium and the other minerals that make up healthy bone. And it is much easier to absorb the minerals in soup form than in a supplement!
People with joint issues often take supplements to help protect and build cartilage. When you make soup with joint bones, the cartilage naturally dissolves into the broth and helps to protect your joints.
Bone broth is one of my favorite tonics for the digestive system. The nutrients in the cartilage and the bone marrow are extremely nourishing to the rapidly dividing cells lining the digestive tract, and can heal damaged and inflamed tissues.
Another wonderful thing about bone broth is that it is incredibly easy to make. The following is a basic recipe, but you can add different herbs and spices for extra flavor.
- 1 whole free-range chicken (you can roast a chicken and make soup from what is left after you have finished eating it) or 2 to 3 pounds of bony chicken parts, such as necks, backs, breastbones, and wings and/or 1-2 organic grassfed beef bones (cut to release the marrow)
- ½ cup vinegar
- 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- sea salt to taste
In a large stock pot or crockpot, place all the ingredients and cover with filtered water. Simmer for 8-10 hours or more. Chicken bones should be soft enough to crush the ends.
Using a strainer, pour the broth into glass containers. Remove the bones and bay leaf and, if desired, add the meat back to the broth. The broth will keep in the refrigerator for 4 days, or in the freezer indefinitely.
In addition to being a top notch healing tonic, bone broth is delicious! I recommend having at least one cup a day. You can drink it strait, or add it to your favorite recipes. It is a great way to add flavor and depth to a stir fry, and a wonderful base for sauces.
Putting it all together
One of my favorite parts of my job is that I get to combine some of the oldest treatments around with cutting edge techniques. It is often the simplest things that make the most profound shifts. Incorporating homemade bone broth into your diet is a great way to take your health into your own hands, and start feeling better! Give it a try. Your grandmother would be proud.