Cara O. Frank, L.OM.
Bone Broth is having its moment. What used to be bouillon, stock, consommé and soup now has a new moniker: Bone Broth. In NYC, there’s even a bone broth shop!
There are numerous reasons to be enthusiastic about bone broth as a health building food. When bones are simmered for an extended period of time, the gelatin and collagen in the connective tissue breaks down and is infused into the broth. This creates a soothing, protein and mineral-rich medium that is not only delicious, but is also deeply healing and restorative to the body. Bone broths form a foundational pillar for many dietary protocols, such as the GAPS diet.
Chinese medicine uses several different gelatins as part of their materia medica; notably ass hide gelatin ē jiāo 阿胶, deer antler gelatin lù jiǎo jiāo 鹿角胶 and tortoise plastron gelatin guī bǎn jiāo 龟版胶. The first tonifies the blood, the second tonifies the yang and the last nourishes the yin, yet all of them overlap in their actions to a certain degree. The word jiāo translates as glue, or gelatin. We include them in formulas when patients need deeper “flesh and blood” tonification than plant materials can provide.
Bone broth builds the foundation for good health: In Chinese medicine, we are always treating the Yin and Yang and the Qi (energy) and Blood. Yin refers to a more cooling and moist energy. Yang is warmer and dryer. Yin is further subdivided into thin and thick yin. Water might nourish the thin yin fluids of the body, while bone broth, rich with gelatin, nourishes the thick yin or the deeper moisture of the body. This deep hydration can be visualized by remembering the old fashioned remedy of using gelatin to treat arthritis. Or the use of Synvisc injections for bone on bone joint degeneration.
Gelatin is a hydrophilic colloid, which means it’s a solid liquid. The liquid suspension nourishes the thick yin. Because it is so nourishing, we can also say that it nourishes our qi and because it is warming, it can also nourish the yang. Because many bones contain marrow, which becomes part of the broth, it also nourishes the blood. Therefore, bone broths can be thought of as a medicinal food. My teacher Huang Huang taught us that cooking a pig’s foot with dates, licorice and ginger was equivalent to using ē jiāo. Because these gelatins have a viscous nature, we use them when we need to add a rich, unctuous dimension to an herb formula. So, in relation to infertility, we might use these when there is a thin endometrium, or when there is recurrent miscarriage.
Making bone broth is easy, especially if you have a slow cooker:
Basic Bone Broth Recipe:
- 1.5-2 lb of Grass-fed Beef Bones, Organically Fed Pork Bones, or Organically Raised Pasture Raised Chicken Bones, or organically handled fish bones (make sure to include the fish head) Boutique butchers and farmers markets are great sources for these products.
- A Splash of Apple Cider Vinegar (Organic, with the “Mother” material)
- COLD Water to cover (warm water will make the broth cloudy)
- Herbs (optional)
- Veggie Scraps. Optional, but it really makes it taste better. Don’t use cruciferous vegetables. They don’t taste good.
- Aromatics: 2 bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns
- If using beef or pork bones, consider roasting them on a sheet pan at 375 degrees until well browned. Drain the fat.
- Place your bones in a slow-cooker, or large saucepan on the stove, and splash with vinegar. Add fresh herbs or vegetable scraps if you like, or a few peppercorns, a bay leaf, etc, to taste.
- Fill pot with water.
- If in crock-pot: set on “low” and let run for at 10-24 hours or run it for two 10 hour cycles
- If on stovetop: simmer on low for 20-24 hours
- Remove bones and fat in one of two ways:
- While hot: Skim off fat and any material from the fat floating on the top, and pour through a strainer to remove all bones.
- While cool: let pot cool & then put in refrigerator overnight. Scrape solidified fat off of the top, and remove bones (gloves recommended during this process)
Drink daily as recommended
Super Charge Your Bone Broth!
- Add Seaweeds:
We feel that a many of our patients facing infertility can improve ovarian reserve and improve sperm count by eating a whole foods, nutrient dense diet. Please read Brianna Eardley-Pryor’s blog on this topic. One of our favorite ways to add deep mineral nutrition is to add seaweeds, such as kelp, or Kombu to the broth. It adds a deep flavor and is a natural source of iodine, which nourishes the thyroid.
- Add Mushrooms:
All mushrooms, but especially shitake, maitake, and turkey tail contain immune boosting polysaccharides. Dried mushrooms add deep umami deliciousness.
Do you have a special way to prepare bone broth? Share it with us! We’d love to learn your methods.
About Cara Frank, L.OM.
Cara Frank, L.OM. was raised by in a health food store in Brooklyn NY. When she was 8 she cartwheeled 5 miles from Greenwich Village through Soho and Chinatown and across the Brooklyn Bridge. For over 30 years she has had the same crazy passion for Chinese medicine. At 17 she had her first acupuncture treatment. At 20 she enrolled in acupuncture school. In 1998 she went to China to study where she fell deeply in love with Chinese herbs. Since then, she has devoted her life to studying and teaching the topic.
Cara is the founder of Six Fishes Healing Arts in Philadelphia where she maintains a busy acupuncture practice and acts as the head fish of warm and lively office. She is also the president of China Herb Company. You can read her full bio or schedule an appointment.