Post by Ellen Demotses, aromatherapist, TCM and Western herbalist. She is a member of the American Botanical Council and the American Herbalists Guild and is developing a natural skincare line.
Everything that’s old is new, and everything that’s new is old.
– Stephanie Mills
Bone broth is everywhere. Recipes, articles and “brothals” have emerged across the country. Brothals are supplying shots, cups, and frozen quarts of this superfood through storefronts and online. It’s the newest health trend. But this is old news for grandmothers and herbalists. Throughout history, every culture has used its own version of the basic recipe to restore and maintain health.
In traditional Chinese medicine, bone broth is used for building blood, strengthening digestion, and boosting the immune system. It enters the Spleen, Kidneys, Lungs, and Liver. A cup is taken daily, even in the summer months. In the winter months, I attempt to drink it daily. Sometimes it’s a meal – a hearty bowl with vegetables and bread. Most days I pour it into a coffee mug with only scallions and garlic.
Bone Broth for Health and Wellness
Although some are touting bone broth as a superfood, I think it is more of a recipe for health and wellness. There are many ways to use herbs medicinally, but using food as medicine is the best and most effective. Bones from healthy, pasture-raised animals are loaded with minerals that are easily absorbed by the body and tolerated well when used in the broth. Bone broth is great for fending off colds and flu, but it also lessens the symptoms when illness takes hold. In fact, bone broth has many health benefits, including:
- Strengthens the immune system and protects against colds/flu
- Aids digestion and helps relieve symptoms of leaky gut
- Aids in the recovery from a major illness, surgery, or broken bones
- Alleviates arthritis and joint pain (especially if bones with cartilage such as beef knuckles and chicken feet are added)
- Anti-inflammatory (enhanced with the addition of turmeric)
How to Make Bone Broth
Below is my recipe for chicken bone broth. You can get creative by adding different herbs and spices for taste and to nourish the body. In the winter, I add thyme, rosemary, and sage which are great herbs for the cold and flu season. I add the adaptogen astragalus year-round so my immune system stays strong. Astragalus also helps protect the body against stress around the winter holidays. Garlic and onions are a must. Adding a small amount of vinegar is essential as it extracts the minerals and nutrients from the bones.
Chicken Bone Broth
1 whole chicken cut into pieces
2-4 chicken feet for collagen (optional)
4 quarts cold water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
10 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
3 sticks of astragalus
4 – 1” slices fresh ginger (skin on)
3 pieces fresh turmeric
1 small bunch parsley
Sage to taste
Rosemary to taste
Thyme to taste
Salt & pepper
- Add all the ingredients to a Dutch oven and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer on low heat (a soft simmer) for at least 6 hours and up to 24.
- Periodically skim the surface and discard the skimmings.
- Let the broth cool and strain through a fine-mesh strainer.
- Freeze, reheat in single servings or make your favorite chicken soup recipe using the broth as the base.
Another alternative is to buy a cooked rotisserie chicken. Use the meat for sandwiches or other dishes and boil the carcass with the other ingredients as outlined above. If using a pre-cooked chicken, it is a good idea to add chicken feet as some of the collagen is lost in the roasting process. It is simple, tastes great, and is great for your health.
Learning About Nourishing, Traditional Foods and Herbs
You can also visit the Weston Price Foundation website for additional recipes or purchase Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World by Sally Fallon Morrell, an advocate for education and use of nourishing traditional foods.
For additional information on herbs, join the Herbal Academy of New England’s The Herbarium, Your Virtual and Vibrant Collection of Herbal Resources. It is a wonderful resource with monographs, articles, presentations, videos, podcasts and much more. It is beautifully designed with stunning pictures and extensive information.
Ellen Demotses is an aromatherapist, and a TCM and Western herbalist. She is a member of the American Botanical Council and the American Herbalists Guild and is developing a natural skincare line.