20 Amazing Benefits of Bone Broth

20 Amazing Benefits of Bone Broth

While many commercial broths available today are only made with skin and may contain MSG, bone broth has been a staple of many cuisines throughout history and across the globe. This is largely because of its economic value (using every part of the animal) but more importantly because of its nutritional value (delivering many essential compounds to the body.)

Minerals for example are plentiful in broth, and it can be difficult to get the same levels elsewhere in the diet.  Gelatin, which broth is also rich in, is a very important and easily digested protein which improves tissues all over the body.  And new benefits of bone broth continue to be discovered, telling us what humans have already known for thousands of years!  While I thought I knew all there was to know about bone broth, I must say that doing the research for this post really enlightened me to the seemingly endless number of benefits.

Broth can be particularly beneficial to drink when overcoming illness, but as an Acupuncturist I recommend daily consumption to most of my patients.  Conditions such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, IBS, IBD, infertility, hypothyroidism, chronic inflammation, anxiety, insomnia, PMS, menopause or even just your standard stress, low immunity and fatigue can all benefit from bone broth.

Tomorrow I will post about how to make your own bone broth, but for now learn more about how good it is for you:

1. Repairs JointsJoint Repair from Bone Broth

When cooking with bones that still have a good amount of joint tissue on them (like necks, knuckles, ribs or the leftover carcass from a roasted chicken) that tissue cooks down and dissolves into the broth.  Joint building blocks like gelatin and chondroitin sulfate (which are sold as expensive supplements to treat and prevent osteoarthritis) are readily available in bone broth, easily absorbed by our bodies and are quickly employed to rebuild and repair our connective tissue, which includes joints, tendons and ligaments.

2. Improves Hair, Skin & Nails

Another wonderful effect of gelatin is its ability to strengthen our hair, skin and nails.  It is used topically for beauty treatments, but is even more effective when taken internally.

3. Benefits Bones

Beef Bone for Broth

This may be obvious but bone broth is great for your bones!  The more bones are cooked, the softer they become and the more minerals they release into broth.  Minerals do not break down with heat, they are continuously released as the bone cooks.  Calcium and Phosphorus are the main minerals released, since those are the main minerals stored in bones, but also Silicon, Sulphur, Magnesium and other trace minerals.

In addition to the minerals, all the other components of bone break down and are available in bone broth, which benefits our skeletal system because it provides everything we need to build new bone cells.

When recovering from a bone fracture or dealing with a chronic bone disorder like osteoporosis, broth should be consumed daily to insure their is plenty of material for bone to rebuild with.  Broths are particularly important long-term if there isn’t sufficient calcium in the diet from dairy or plant sources.

4. Heals the Digestive Tract

Bone Broth for DigestionBone broth is one of the easiest foods to digest and is traditionally used when recovering from illness, especially digestive problems.  Just think of all the soups that are used as antidotes – in many Asian cultures they have congee, in Jewish culture there’s matzo ball soup, and Americans often turn to the classic chicken noodle.  Diets like the GAPS diet recognized this and put a strong focus on bone broths in order to heal the digestive system, particularly after the digestive lining has been damaged, like in Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis.  The high gelatin content of broth is considered particularly healing to wounds along the digestive tract.

5. Supports Nerve Function

The minerals dissolved in broth are essential for proper nerve function as they are used to conduct electrical signals from cell to cell.  The fats found in the broth are also essential to nerve health since many nerve cells (especially those in your brain and spinal cord) are coated in fat to help their signals travel faster.

6. Ultimate Brain Food!

Ultimate Brain Food!What is good for the nervous system is good for the brain, because it is the center of the entire nervous system.  Plus, a hormone produced in bones known as osteocalcin (more on that below) has been proven to have a direct effect on brain function, improving memory and mood.

One of the most common questions I get as an Acupuncturist and Herbalist is what to eat to improve brain function.  Whether it is a stressed businessman, a burned out student or a busy mom, I always tell them that bone broth is the ultimate brain food!

Keep in mind that our brain in particular is made up mostly fat, so we need plenty of good fats to support it.

7. Muscle Function

Muscle cramps can result from too many or too few minerals in the system, but the modern American diet lends more towards mineral deficiency.  Calcium and Magnesium are the main minerals involved in muscle contraction, and both are found in broth.

8. Blood Cell Production

Blood Cell ProductionBone marrow is where our bodies manufacture red blood cells and white blood cells.  It contains a high concentration of stem cells, which are starter cells that are capable of producing several new blood cells.  By cooking down bone marrow you get everything you need to build those new red and white blood cells.  Gelatin in particular helps to regenerate red blood cells (and is used to treat anemia.)

9. Source of Dissolved Minerals

As discussed above, the minerals that are dissolved in broth play important roles in many different aspects of the body, including bone health, nerve health, and muscle function just to name a few.  While you can get a handful of minerals that are easily absorbed by the body from several different foods, nothing compares to the full spectrum of minerals present in broth.  And while many people turn to supplements for their mineral needs, most pills only contain a few compounds and aren’t nearly as easily absorbed as broth.

10. Immune Tonic

Bone Broth Boosts ImmunityWhite blood cells are the cells in our bodies that control our immunity and handle infections, and they are made in the bone marrow.  So the bone marrow contains plenty of fresh white blood cells as well as the stem cells that produce new cells.  While cells usually break down during cooking, all of their components are still there and help our bodies build new white blood cells.

Onions and garlic are also usually added to broth for flavor but they too benefit the immune system, in Chinese Medicine they are used to treat common colds.  Some people also choose to add herbs which further improve immunity, like astragalus or ginger.

11. Protein Source

Bone Broth as a Protein SourceWhen there is not enough protein in the body it is very hard for it to function properly.  Many people only think of muscles when it comes to protein, but nearly our whole body is made up of protein.  Our intestines, glands, blood vessels, enzymes, much of what makes up our cells and how they function, it’s all protein!

Our digestive tract in particular is made of muscles and relies on enzymes to break down food, so low protein can hit the digestive system first.  This may cause lack of appetite, indigestion or nausea.  This makes it difficult to stomach additional protein even though it is desperately needed.  So broth can be particularly helpful to keep protein up even when digestion is at its lowest.

While broth doesn’t provide complete protein (it doesn’t contain all essential amino acids our bodies need) it does have a good amount and helps to extend other protein sources, so you can make a little meat go a lot farther.  This was especially important to cultures during times of famine or even just reduced resources, but it can help us nowadays keep our budgets down.

12. Quality Fat

Even if you don’t cook much of the fatty tissue or skin into your broth, the bones themselves contain a good about of fat that melts right in when warm.  Some people prefer to chill their broth to let the fat collect on top, then separate it out, but I don’t shy away from it.

While animal fat has gotten a bad reputation in the past few decades, keep in mind that animal fat is the closest to the fat we have in our bodies!  Therefore it is much easier for us to absorb and put to good use in our tissues.  Don’t take that to mean it makes you fat, our bodies usually store fat in our tissues as a result of consuming bad fats we don’t know how to process or excess carbohydrates that get converted to fat.  Animal fats on the other side are more easily used for digestive functions, creating new cells and repairing the nervous system.  With new research now surfacing, it is most often fat from overly processed meats (like hotdogs, lunchmeat or fast food) or lower quality plant-based fats (like soy, corn, canola or cottonseed oils) that are shown to cause problems to our health.

13. Affordability

Affordability of Bone BrothSure, some of the basic benefits I have listed here can be duplicated with supplements, but would cost you a lot more.  Broth’s ability to extend protein content really makes a dollar go farther as well, so it’s a must when you are looking to buy grassfed and pasture-raised meats but don’t want to spend a fortune.

If you don’t have the time for making your own bone broth you don’t have to go without it’s benefits.  Find a local deli or grocery near you that makes it in house, ask to make sure they used bones and cook it for a few hours.  In my neighborhood I love Cookbook, which makes their own beef and chicken broth with bones, simmered no less than 6 hours.  Even though it is not as cheap as the homemade version, it is still much cheaper than supplements or prescriptions!

14. Detoxification

Broth is often used during times of cleansing and fasting, especially during Phase II detoxification.  While the current trend in detoxification seems to be raw vegetable juice cleanses, those can actually be much harder on a damaged digestive tract.  Broth is healing to the intestinal mucus and aids in detoxification.  When my patients ask about cleanses I often suggest a combination of bone broth and herbal teas, with specific suggestions based on the patient’s specific presentation. The quality of the broth is of the utmost importance when using for detoxification, make sure you make it from organic bones – poultry should be pastured and beef/bison should be grassfed.Bone Broth for Endocrine Health

15. Balances the Endocrine System

A somewhat recently discovered protein known as osteocalcin is produced by bone cells.  It acts as a hormone and regulates different functions all over the body, such as helping the pancreas produce more insulin, improving memory and mood, plus signalling the testes to make more testosterone.  Gelatin also helps the body to deal with excess estrogen which can stress the endocrine system of both sexes.

I has long been known that the endocrine system has an effect on bone, but only recently was it discovered that bones have an effect on the endocrine system.  It seems new research is constantly revealing how interconnected the human body truly is.

16. Boosts Fertility

Fertility Boost from Bone BrothIn studying the actions of osteocalcin it has been found that it has a direct result on the testes’ production of testosterone.  Since low testosterone can impair fertility, a higher osteocalcin level is associated with improved fertility rates in men.

While there is not a direct correlation between osteocalcin and fertility for women, the other benefits of bone broth support women’s reproductive system.  For example, increased red blood cell production from the bone marrow and gelatin levels.  Or the minerals like calcium and magnesium which are needed by the uterine muscles to function properly.  Gelatin also helps the body to process excess estrogen, which can be harmful to reproductive health.

17. Beneficial in Pregnancy

Bone Broth in PregnancyI have already discussed the importance of protein for digestion.  In early pregnancy the symptom of morning sickness is usually due to low protein, and it can be difficult to get protein down when already feeling nauseated.  That’s why I always suggest my patients with morning sickness sip bone broth to keep their protein levels up.  But I then suggest all my pregnant patients continue drinking bone broth throughout their entire pregnancy.

Of course it helps provide an easy source of protein, which women need more and more of throughout pregnancy, but it also provides good fats, which pregnant women need in greater amounts.  Because broth also supports the nervous system, endocrine system and brain function, consuming it during pregnancy helps the forming fetus develop new organs, which grow rapidly and need a great deal of nutrients to form correctly.

18. Calms Anxiety

Osteocalcin once again has been found to have a direct correlation to improved mood and reduced anxiety.  Plus Calcium and Magnesium have a soothing effect on muscles and in turn the whole body.

19. Improves Wound Healing

I have discussed above how gelatin helps heal the digestive tract, create new red blood cells and repairs joint tissue, so it makes sense that it helps healing elsewhere in the body.  Gelatin is rich in an amino acid called Glycine, which is needed in DNA production and thus is necessary for forming new cells anywhere in the body.  Broth is helpful to consume during the recovery of nearly any illness or injury because of this, it helps repair cells that have been damaged or compromised.

20. Use in Chinese Medicine

Bone Broth in Chinese MedicineChinese Medicine seems to have known about most of these benefits for thousands of years before our scientific research could prove them.  In Chinese Medicine bones are associated with the kidney system and the bone marrow is associated with kidney jing, which is the deepest level of our body.  Jing represents our foundation, life force, genetics, libido, fertility, memory and brain function.

Bone broth is used to improve energy, longevity, fertility, metabolism, the nervous system and endocrine function – particularly the adrenals.  Bone marrow specifically is considered a tonic for the brain, as the brain is said to be the “Sea of Marrow.”  Being that bones are heavy in nature they are also said to have a calming effect on the spirit, so bone broth is often used to treat anxiety and insomnia.

 Bone Broth Used For

Comments

44 Responses to “20 Amazing Benefits of Bone Broth”
  1. teshi says:

    very informative

  2. Valeria says:

    Thank you so very much. I don’t know how, but all of a sudden I had this brain storm and bone marrow came into my head and I’ve been on track like a heat seeking missile. This is critically important to me because I have crohn’s disease and I’m truly on a mission to get healed and well. No joke, I don’t want their meds. It will only make things worse. That’s what I believe and know. I thank you for all this beautiful information.

  3. Emily says:

    Wow, very informative! Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. sally says:

    Please can we have the references/sources for this article?

    Thank you

  5. Charity says:

    I have read lots of benefits of bone broth but I cannot find one story as of yet of a personal testimony that it healed them. If you have healing story, please share.

    • Thanks for commenting, Charity. I have several patients who swear by bone broth for healing their joint pain, menstrual cramps, or fatigue, but patient confidentiality prevents me from posting their stories here. Most food does not work the way pharmaceuticals or even herbs and acupuncture would, healing a disease all on their own, rathe, when food is used medicinally the whole diet must be evaluated since some components can do more harm than other components are able to repair. I recommend those looking to use food as a means of healing consult an acupuncturist/herbalist in their area since Chinese medicine tailors dietary recommendations specifically for the person, based on their pattern and constitution. However, bone broth is one of the few foods I’ve found to be suitable for most conditions and constitutions.

      There is a lot of info out there about how bone broth is used in gut healing, especially in the GAPS diet. Also, because of the high gelatin content in bone broth it is very effective for healing joints and soft tissue. You can simply look up the benefits of gelatin, some of my patients take gelatin powder alone which they find more convenient than making bone broth at home, but it is more expensive and doesn’t have all the nutritional benefits of bone broth, such as good fats, calcium and dissolved minerals. Cultures across the world use bone broth as a healing remedy for those with colds/flus or recovering from illness, whether it is chicken noodle soup, matzo ball soup, pho, tom ka gai or congee, they all give you that feel good feeling when you’re feeling sick. Sally Fallon’s “Nourishing Traditions” and the Weston A. Price Foundation has a bunch of info on bone broth.

  6. Laurie says:

    I so need this. What is the best bone to use and could you refer me your recipe? I have heard such differing stories, and since I get anxious, and battle an eating disorder, I need a definitive recipe. I so appreciate it!

    • Have you read through my post about making your own bone broth, Laurie? There are sources in there for where to buy bones and I walk you through the whole recipe! I don’t give specific amounts and ingredients because it’s all very forgiving. I’ve had patients literally put bones in a slow cooker with water and still reap the benefits of the broth, but I give instructions on how to get a bit more flavor out of the broth in that article. The main point is to roast the bones to improve flavor, and to add a tiny bit of acid/vinegar to pull more minerals out of the bones and cover with water. I save onion, carrot and celery scraps to fill out the flavor, but the aromatics aren’t entirely necessary to making bone broth. It is a hard recipe to mess up.

  7. Kafekanela says:

    How can i get th recipe?

  8. Tina says:

    I lost my entire colon to Ulcerative Colitis over 25 yrs ago & to this day am still’plague by stomach issues….I am at this time headed towards my 14 th surgery ……I have faced unimaginable problems to name a few, infertility! anemia, UC, IBS, extreme weight loss as well as excessive weight gain, painful joints, bloating, stress, & fatigue being the worst…..
    question:
    Since I don’t have most of my intestines……would this broth still be beneficial to me. I have been sick for almost 3 decades….I have truly forgotten what normal is to me……but, would LOVE to feel healthy again.
    Where would I start??
    A detox?
    Then elimination of above mentioned foods?.
    Thanks for any information that could lead me to a healthier way of life.

    • Tina,

      Bone broth should be beneficial for helping any remaining intestines heal and to prevent further ulcerations from forming. It’s really difficult for me to make specific nutritional recommendations without examining someone in person, I would highly highly recommend you find an acupuncturist in your area to examine you. Have you ever had acupuncture before? Or taken Chinese herbs? You can find someone local to you on acufinder.com. I hope you get the help you need!

    • Lisa Miller says:

      Remember that nutrients are absorbed by the upper intestine and you will probably experience all the healing effects of bone broth. Good luck and good wishes to you. I make 24-hour stock from all my bones, http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/recipes/how-to-make-the-best-chicken-stock-in-the-world/

  9. Marilyn says:

    How much beef broth should I drink daily for bone fractures and osteoporosis

    • I would recommend finding an acupuncturist/herbalist in your area (acufinder.com is a great resource) to work with. I recommend 1-2 cups per day for many of my patients but giving specific recommendations like this really depends on the patient’s constitution.

  10. Debby says:

    Am I to understand that it does not matter which type of bone to use specifically? I just did some chicken soup and kept the bones in there and have been consuming the broth daily. Will this be considered bone broth also? Or do you specifically prefer beef over chicken?

    • Certain animal products are better for certain people depending on their constitution. I would encourage you to find an Acupuncturist/herbalist in your area that works with diet as well (acufinder.com is a great place to look!) I find chicken/poultry is actually not ideal for most of my patients, and broth from grassfed beef and fish are both much better options, but that just depends on the body type. I personally prefer the flavor of beef broth but make chicken broth regularly because I typically roast a whole chicken once every week or two. No matter which bones you start with the diet/lifestyle of the animal is very important, so I typically recommend all animals are pasture-raised on diets with zero hormones, antibiotics or GMOs, and cows should specifically be grassfed.

  11. Manju_India says:

    Hi Charity,
    I would like to inform you that I was suffering from severe joint pain in my knees and it had become very difficult for me to walk. the doctor had also advised me to undergo an operation because he said that is the only solution. But one of my aunt suggested bone broth and believe me it really works. My life has become easy since I started consuming bone broth.

  12. LIZA says:

    I have had 2 fractured ribs in the past year. I am almost 65, took actonel and evista in my 50’s and had serious dental work so I do not want to take these and either do I wish to take the shot of PROLIA….so I am considering bone broth from beef or from chicken or what should I do? I have been exercising for 50 years and I currently do weights and jog almost every day but the fact that 2 fractured ribs have occurred in the past year has me quite concerned and worried. I take supplements of 1200 of calcium combined with vit k and magnesium ….Bone up is the one I take. I want to live a life that will make me strong and not fragile so I can hug and squeeze again!!! Any suggestions would be most appreciated. thankyou!!

    • I would highly recommend finding an acupuncturist/herbalist in your area who also deals with nutrition, most of us do. Also I would get your vitamin D levels checked, as it assists calcium absorption. But bone broth is a great place to start as you can take it every day. Let me know what you think!

  13. Shelly says:

    WOW! Thank you, I knew there was more to bone broth than I was reading, this was packed full of good info! I just drank my 2nd cup! Cheers!

  14. Linda vasquez says:

    Hi. Do you have a diet plan? I would like to lose weight and my husband has type 2 diabetes.

  15. Valeria says:

    I made a chicken broth from an organic chicken. But, I only had a little sip and of course where do you think I ended up? Right, in the powder room again. Now what? is this normal after cooking this soup? Please advise.

    Valeria
    valeriahfortune@gmail.com

  16. That shouldn’t be a normal response to bone broth but it depends on a lot of things, like how fresh was the chicken? How oily was the broth? If you suffer from Crohn’s then it may have been a response to something else.

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