Broth, made from the bones of animals, has been consumed as a source
of nourishment for humankind throughout the ages. It is a traditional
remedy across cultures for the sick and weak. A classic folk treatment
for colds and flu, it has also been used historically for ailments
that affect connective tissues such as the gastrointestinal tract,
the joints, the skin, the lungs, the muscles and the blood. Broth
has fallen out of favor in most households today, probably due to
the increased pace of life that has reduced home cooking in general.
Far from being old-fashioned, broth (or stock) continues to be a
staple in professional and gourmet cuisine, due to its unsurpassed
flavor and body. It serves as the base for many recipes including
soup, sauces and gravy. Broth is a valuable food and a valuable medicine,
much too valuable to be forgotten or discounted in our modern times
with our busy ways and jaded attitudes.
In general, broth is a liquid made by boiling meat, bones, or vegetables.
There are many types of broths, based on what is being cooked. For
example, Bieler Broth, a vegetable broth made with green beans, zucchini,
and celery is a supportive remedy used in detoxification or cleansing
protocols. Consommé, a rich broth made from meat, is another
example. It is prepared by reducing, or prolonged simmering. Stock
is another word used synonymously with broth, though some chefs denote
stock as being made from bones whereas broth is made from meat. In
this paper the two names are used interchangeably. Soup is a similar
term referring to simmered vegetables, meat, and seasonings, and
is defined by Random House Webster's Dictionary as a liquid
food.1 The difference is that soup contains solids such as meat,
beans, grains or vegetables (sometimes disguised by a purée)
while a broth is the liquid in which solids have been simmered and
then discarded. Soup is what we think of as having for a meal. Broth
is a starting ingredient for soup, and must be prepared separately
The ingredients are as follows: bones from an animal, with or without
meat and skin, enough water to just cover the bones, a splash of
vinegar, and optional assorted vegetables or their scraps. Making
broth requires almost no work, just put the bones in a pot, add water
and vinegar, bring it to a simmer and walk away. No chopping or tending
Why then, don't people make it? Stock needs to be prepared
in advance to mealtime. It needs to boil for hours, and the longer
simmers, the better it gets. An easy solution is to routinely put meat
scraps into a pot, instead of the garbage can. Broth can just as easily
be extracted from a single chicken breast bone as it can from a whole
chicken, and it need not be raw. Broth can be allowed to simmer on
lowest heat for a day or two. The greatest amount of work is at the
end, when it must be strained, cooled, and put into containers, still
not very troublesome. It can be kept in the refrigerator for about
five days, or frozen for months.2 With stock on hand, homemade
soup can be ready for dinner within 20 minutes. (See Appendix
A for more
Basically then, broth will contain the ingredients that are in bone.
Covering and adhering to the ends of bones to form a joint, is cartilage.
Therefore broth will also contain the ingredients that are in cartilage.
Bone and cartilage are both classified as connective tissue. Connective
tissue is one of the four basic tissue types that exist in animals.
It functions to bind or hold together and to support and strengthen
the body. Connective tissue consists of a matrix, and cells that
secrete the matrix. The matrix is the material that fills the space
between the cells and is therefore referred to as the extracellular
matrix. It is composed of protein fibers, and ground substance, which
can be a liquid, a gel or a solid. Since the cells are few, it is
the valuable nutrients from the matrixes of bone and cartilage, which
create the substance called broth. (Table I)
Table I: Connective Tissue
|Extra Cellular Matrix
sodium and potassium
|collagen I (90%)
The primary functions of bone are to provide a support framework, protect organs,
store and release minerals, produce blood cells and store energy. In the matrix
of bone, the protein, collagen, forms the fibers. Collagen has the ability
to resist a pulling or tearing force, called tensile strength. It is flexible
and rubbery. The other matrix component, the ground substance, is made of mineral
salts. Calcium and phosphorus, in a composite called hydroxyapatite, and some
calcium carbonate, form 65% of the ground substance. Water contributes 25%.
The remaining 10% is formed by magnesium, sodium, potassium, sulfate and fluoride.3,4
(Table I) The inorganic minerals form a solid ground substance and give bone
its hardness. If bones were made only of collagen they would be rubbery, but
if they were made only of minerals, they would be brittle. Together they make
bone flexible and hard.
In a central cavity, bone also houses marrow. There are two types of
bone marrow, red and yellow. Red bone marrow is the location for
the manufacture of the cells in blood. It produces the cells in their
immature forms. The final conversion into mature blood cells occurs
outside the bone marrow. The cells made in the red marrow are myeloid
stem cells, the precursors to red blood cells, and lymphoid stem
cells, the precursors to white blood cells and platelets. Red blood
cells carry and deliver oxygen to other cells, white blood cells
are part of the immune system, and platelets allow for clotting.
Red bone marrow also contains collagen protein fibers, sometimes
called reticulin fibers, classified as type III collagen.5 (Table
I) In comparing why less chicken parts compared to beef parts are
needed to produce a similarly strong tasting broth, the authors of
The Best Recipe cookbook suggest that chicken bones have a higher
concentration of red marrow, and that this considerably enhances
Yellow bone marrow is a storage site for energy in the form of lipids
or fats. It contains adipocytes within which fat is stored. It also
contains a small amount of blood cells and type III collagen fiber.7
Cartilage is deposited in varying places in the body including the
nose and ear. The joint cartilage is the primary type that gets incorporated
in broth. It functions as a shock absorber and to reduce friction.
In the matrix of cartilage, the fiber component is collagen protein
and elastin protein. Like collagen, elastin provides strength, but
it also provides stretch. It can stretch up to one and a half times
its original length.8 The other matrix component, ground substance
is made of the glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) chondroitin sulfate, keratin
sulfate and hyaluronic acid. The GAGs form a gel ground substance
that gives cartilage its resilience. (Table I)
Cartilage has enjoyed fame as a supplement for osteoarthritis in the
form of shark cartilage. It has been studied for joint disease, and
gastrointestinal disease. Prudden found that cartilage dramatically
improved degenerative joint disease, including rheumatoid arthritis.
He also found that it improved inflammatory bowel disease.9
Cartilage has a poor blood supply. It actually produces chemicals known
as antiangiogenesis factors (AAFs) that inhibit the growth of blood
vessels into it. This seemingly unfortunate quality can actually be
used to advantage in the fight against cancer. Cancer cells grow very
rapidly. They achieve rapid proliferation by stimulating the growth
of new blood vessels to support themselves. AAFs are now being used
as a treatment to inhibit the growth of blood vessels into cancer cells.10
As a medicine, AAFs are given in the form of cartilage.11
Cartilage supplementation also stimulates B, T, and macrophage immune
cells.12 According to Murray and Pizzorno, malnutrition
(protein deficiency) is the most common form of immune suppression
in the world.13 That
is because the immune system is composed primarily of protein, including
antibodies, receptors and chemical signalers. When it is further considered
that 80% of the immune system lines the gastrointestinal tract, the
role of cartilage gains importance, since it can nourish both the gut
and the immune system.14
Pharmaceutically prepared cartilage is very expensive, often prohibitively
so. Of course cartilage can be extracted at home, by making broth.
Broth recipes stress the quality that can be obtained from using highly
cartilaginous parts of animals. These parts will be joint areas, like
chicken feet and beef knuckles, trachea and ribs, or anatomy with a
concentration of glycosaminoglycans, like hooves and skin.
To summarize, cartilage (broth) can be considered for use in the following
conditions: arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease
and ulcerative colitis), cancer, decreased immune system states, and
Collagen and Gelatin
Collagen comes from the word kolla, which means glue. True to its verbal
root, it has been used as glue in the past. It functions to hold
the body together. One fourth of all the protein in the body is collagen.15
It is the framework for the extra cellular matrix of bone, cartilage
and skin. Another word for collagen is gelatin. Collagen is a scientific
term for a particular protein in the body, while gelatin is a food
term referring to extracted collagen. It is usually encountered in
powdered form, but gelatin also describes the collagen extracted
into broth. Properly prepared broth will gel, just like Jell-O, when
cooled, because collagen is rubbery and flexible. Webster's
Dictionary defines gelatin as "the…substance extracted
by boiling bones, hoofs, and animal tissues."16 Since collagen
is present in both bone and cartilage, it can be extracted from either
of the two connective tissues and be labeled as gelatin. Most commercial
gelatin today is extracted from animal skin, another connective tissue
which contains collagen.17,18 Gelatin, is what most people think
of as the main ingredient in broth. Bone broth differs from gelatin
in that it also contains minerals and GAGS. Traditionally made stock
uses bone and cartilage and produces a higher quality result. It
also produces a safer result considering that commercial gelatin
contains small amounts of monosodium glutamate (MSG).19
Although it seems obscure today, gelatin has been studied and recommended,
with great enthusiasm, by the medical community in the past. In 1937
Dr. Pottenger said, "Gelatin may be used in conjunction with
almost any diet that the clinician feels is indicated."20From
the late 1800s to the mid-1900s, gelatin was the subject of many
studies, and these were summarized in the book, Gelatin
in Nutrition and Medicine, by Dr. Gotthoffer.21 In her article, "Why
Broth is Beautiful," nutritionist Kaayla Daniel speculates that one
of the reasons gelatin
is so infrequently studied today, is due to a lack of standardization.
Without a consistent item, researchers in the past found it difficult
to reproduce findings.22 In Gotthoffer's survey, one general
area of health prescription clearly comes to the fore, and that is
digestion. Most notably, he refers to over 30 years of research on
gelatin's ability to improve the digestion of milk. In the
early 1900s gelatin was therefore recommended as an ingredient in
infant formula, to decrease allergic reactions, colic and respiratory
ailments. Gelatin was also reported to increase the digestibility
of beans and meat (which gives credence to the practice of serving
meat with gravy). It was also found that gelatin increased the utilization
of the protein in wheat, oats and barley, all gluten containing grains.23
Gluten is a notoriously difficult to digest protein for many people.
Those that suffer from gluten allergy are diagnosed with Celiac disease,
a debilitating condition.
Gotthoffer also found gelatin to be prescribed for both hyper- and
hypo-stomach acidity. He cites three physicians who report gelatin
to "work better and more rapidly than bismuth and tannin" in
clinical practice.24 A more recent study by Wald, demonstrated that
glycine (a main ingredient in gelatin) stimulates gastric acid secretion.25
Another recent study found that "gelatin as feed supplement protected
against ethanol-induced mucosal damages in rats."26 This directly
supports the traditional thought that broth is healing and coating
to the gastrointestinal lining, and gives a scientific explanation
for broth's ability to calm and soothe. Gelatin has also been
found to improve body weight as well as bone mineral density in states
of protein undernutrition.27 Additionally, studies have shown that
convalescing adults, who have lost weight because of cancer, fare better
if gelatin is added to their diet. It is said to be tolerated when
almost nothing else can be.28
Some of the medical communities in other parts of the world value gelatin
too. In Chinese herbal medicine, gelatin is an important herbal remedy,
in use for thousands of years. Its Chinese name is e jiao. It is classified
as a tonic herb. Tonics strengthen or supplement insufficiency and
weakness. They are considered nourishing and enhance the body's
resistance to disease. They are used for states of deficiency. Gelatin
is used to tonify the blood, in particular. This correlates to Western
medical knowledge since, as we will see, glycine, a key ingredient
in gelatin, plays a vital role in the blood. (Table II) Also if gelatin
is extracted from bone, then marrow, where blood cells are produced
is also extracted. Chinese studies have shown gelatin to increase red
blood cell and hemoglobin count, increase serum calcium level, increase
the absorption and utilization of calcium, and prevent and treat myotonia
atrophica (muscle wasting).29
To summarize, gelatin (broth) can be considered for use in the following
conditions: food allergies, dairy maldigestion, colic, bean maldigestion,
meat maldigestion, grain maldigestion, hypochlorhydria, hyperacidity
(gastroesophageal reflux, gastritis, ulcer, hiatal hernia) inflammatory
bowel disease (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis), irritable
bowel syndrome, leaky gut syndrome, malnutrition, weight loss, muscle
wasting, cancer, osteoporosis, calcium deficiency and anemia.
Over 15 types of collagen have now been identified, but histology classifies
three main types.30 Type I is in bone, skin, ligaments, tendons and
the white of the eye. Type II is in cartilage. Type III is in bone
marrow and lymph, and is also called reticulin fiber.31 (Table I)
Protein fibers are created by stringing together amino acids, the building
blocks of protein. Collagen differs from the average protein in that
it is composed of a high concentration of certain amino acids. Specifically,
about one third of collagen is composed of glycine, the smallest amino
acid. Another third of collagen is composed of proline (and hydroxyproline,
the active form of proline).32 The small size of glycine along with
the properties of proline, allows for the unique triple helix shape
of collagen. A smaller portion of the amino acids lysine (and hydroxylysine)
are also incorporated into collagen. The remaining structure is made
from other amino acids that vary. (Table II)
Scurvy is a disease caused by a deficiency of vitamin C. It results
in symptoms such as bleeding gums, bruising, and poor wound healing.
These manifestations are actually due to a deficiency of collagen,
because vitamin C is needed to synthesize collagen. It converts proline
into hydroxy proline.33 Collagen, along with minerals are needed for
the creation and healing of bone. It is also integral to cartilage
formation and repair, along with GAGs.
To summarize, collagen (broth) can be considered for use in the following
conditions: poor wound healing, soft tissue injury (including surgery),
cartilage and bone injury (including dental degeneration).
|Amino Acid Profile of Gelatin
|27.2 g/ 100 g
15.5 g/ 100 g
13.3 g/ 100 g
4.4 g/ 100 g
0.8 g/ 100 g
Glycine is the simplest amino acid. It contributes to the manufacture
of other amino acids and is incorporated into important structures
in the body. It is a primary ingredient in the synthesis of heme, the
vital portion of our blood that carries oxygen. It is used in the synthesis
of creatine, which buffers energy and shuttles energy across membranes
in muscle tissue, especially the heart. It contributes to the synthesis
of bile salts. It is incorporated into purines and pyrimadines, and
nucleic acids, which form our DNA and RNA. It is used as a cofactor
in phase I detoxification, during the final oxidation.35 It is one
of the three amino acids needed to form glutathione, the key phase
II detoxification enzyme. Glycine is used in gluconeogenesis, the synthesis
of glucose from amino acids (protein) during times of fasting, and
therefore affects the stabilization of blood glucose levels.36
Glycine is classified as a nonessential amino acid because we can synthesize
it within our body. Not all scientists believe it is unnecessary to
consume it though. In fact, Yu and associates found that glycine metabolism
is directly responsive to dietary glycine and that prolonged abstinence
in the diet may limit the formation of heme, glutathione, purines and
creatine.37 Jackson has concluded that a marginal state of glycine
is more common then previously thought.38 Jackson also found that certain
conditions increase our need for glycine, such as sickle cell anemia
and pregnancy. In the case of sickle cell anemia, the high rate of
heme destruction increases the requirement for glycine.39 In pregnancy,
the growing fetus creates a demand for glycine that is two to ten times
greater than normal, and two to ten times greater than the need for
other amino acids.40
Additional studies have reported positive results with glycine for
health conditions. Fogarty states that glycine is "associated
with a strongly reduced risk of asthma."41 Wald demonstrated
that glycine stimulates gastric acid secretion.42 In a study on wound
healing, Minuskin theorized that glycine was particularly helpful due
to its high concentration in connective tissue and also due to the
increased need for creatine in wound healing.43 It has also been found
to be the rate limiting step in rapid growth, of which both wound healing
and fetus growth are an example.44 Lastly, Ottenberg stated that "the
ability of the liver to perform protective synthesis is limited by
the amount of glycine available," and further recommended gelatin
as a glycine supplement for patients with jaundice and other liver
Broths are often used in modified fasting and cleansing regimes. In
the fasting state, glycine is used for gluconeogenesis. During periods
of fasting when no food or energy source is being consumed, our body
breaks down our own protein tissues, such as muscle, to create energy
from. If broth is consumed, it supplies an outside source of glycine,
which limits or prevents degeneration during the fast. Since glycine
is also used for phase I and II detoxification, it puts broth into
the category of a liver tonic (or liver supportive). Broth helps the
body to detoxify during a cleanse, and in fact at any time it is eaten.
To summarize, glycine (broth) can be considered for use in the following
conditions: anemia, fatigue, detoxification, blood sugar dysregulation,
muscle wasting, wound healing, pregnancy, infant and childhood growth,
asthma, hypochlorhydria, jaundice and liver support.
Proline is found in most of the proteins in the body. One of its main
roles is in the structure of collagen. It is therefore incorporated
into connective tissues such as bone, skin, ligaments and tendons,
and cartilage. Proline is also considered a nonessential amino acid,
but as with glycine, it may be considered 'conditionally essential' in
that it is important to consume proline dietarily. Research shows
that proline levels drop significantly when it is absent from the
diet.46 Proline has also been shown to have beneficial effects for
memory and the prevention of depression.47
There are other compounds in broth that gel besides collagen. The ground
substance of cartilage is made of proteoglycans, huge sugar and protein
molecules. Attached to a core protein are long strands of glycosaminoglycans
(GAGs) also called mucopolysaccharides. These structures are naturally
jellylike. As mentioned, the GAGs in cartilage are hyaluronic acid,
chondroitin sulfate and to a lesser degree, keratin sulfate. Hyaluronic
acid forms a central strand to which chondroitin and keratin sulfate
Hyaluronic acid is strongly negatively charged, which allows it to
attract and bond a large amount of water. This molecule is therefore
aptly entitled hydrophilic, or water-loving. Dr. Francis Pottenger,
who researched gelatin in the 1930's, believed that this hydrophilic
nature was at the root of gelatin's digestive benefits by attracting
digestive juices to the surface area of our food. He coined the term "hydrophilic
colloids" to describe this process.48,49 Hyaluronic acid is
viscous and slippery. It lubricates joints and helps in wound healing
by assisting migration of phagocytes.
Chondroitin Sulfate is a jellylike substance, now famous as a supplement
for joint pain associated with osteoarthritis. It functions to support
and provide adhesiveness. It lines blood vessels and plays a role
in lowering atherosclerosis, cholesterol and heart attacks.50
Minerals have three major functions in the body. First, they provide
a structural base for connective tissue like bone. Second, they create
electrical potentials allowing for conduction of nerve signals and
movement across cell membranes. Third, they act as catalysts for
enzymes in physiologic processes, and as Paul Bergner says in The
Healing Power of Minerals, "transform the food and air we breathe
into energy, vibrant health, and consciousness."51
Minerals are essential to life but they are not easy to digest. In
the stomach, the presence of hydrochloric acid is necessary to physically
break down our food, but also to extract elemental minerals from the
food that we've eaten. A similar reaction takes place in the
making of broth. An acid is necessary to remove the minerals from the
bone. This is the purpose of using vinegar (acetic acid) when making
broth. As stated in The Principles of Anatomy
and Physiology, "If
inorganic minerals are removed by soaking bone in a weak acid such
as vinegar, it results in a rubbery, flexible structure."52 This
rubbery flexible structure is the leftover collagen/gelatin. The chemical
reaction that extracts the minerals is an acid base reaction, in which
the vinegar is the acid, and the minerals are the base.53
According to The Best Recipe cookbook, the US FDA and Department of
Agriculture set no standards of definition for chicken broth or stock.
The authors were wondering why commercially available broth was so
flavorless, lacking in body and generally inferior to the homemade
version. Their conclusions were that the ratio of water to chicken
must be high, giving a dilute result, and that the high, long heating
involved in canning destroys the flavor compounds. Canned broth that
tasted good to them had high sodium and MSG. They did find that broth
sold in aseptic packaging, which is subjected to a shorter duration
of heat, called flash heating, tasted more flavorful than canned broth.54
Since there are no standards for the preparation of, or ingredients
in, commercial broth, it is possible that manufacturers are skipping
the vinegar step, or perhaps not even using bones, both of which would
leave the broth devoid of minerals. This may be why canned soup does
not contain the same amount of minerals as home cooked. The milligrams
of minerals in vegetable soup increase 2-8 fold when cooked at home.55
Bone contains calcium and phosphorus, and to a lesser degree, magnesium,
sodium, potassium, sulfate and fluoride. Bone is an excellent source
of minerals. All of the minerals present in bone, except fluoride,
are macrominerals, which are essential for proper nutrition and are
required in greater amounts than 100mg/day.56 The only macromineral
not present in bone is chlorine. Minerals have numerous functions in
the body beyond the composition of bone, which is why the body will
rob the bones and tissues to maintain steady levels of minerals in
the blood and other fluids.
Deficiencies of minerals can be acquired, similar to vitamin deficiencies.
Generally there are two ways this can happen, lack of intake in the
diet, or lack of absorption in the intestines. Broth can be an excellent
remedy for both of these causes of mineral deficiency because it provides
easily absorbed extracted minerals, plus promotes healing of the intestinal
tract. Unlike vitamins, minerals do not have defining deficiency diseases,
but rather a collection of associated deficiency signs, symptoms and
diseases. Interestingly, many of the deficiency symptoms of minerals
are mood and behavior disturbances. This offers a scientific explanation
for broth's ability to soothe and stabilize. It is reasonable
to assume that previous to the development of pharmaceutical mineral
supplements, bone broth was an important supply of minerals, especially
in the winter when fresh fruit and vegetables are less available, and
warm food is preferred. Even just one generation ago broth was a part
of most household and restaurant repertoires. Yet today, neither nutrition
nor science textbooks list bone as a dietary source of minerals.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in bone, present both as hydroxyapatite
(bonded to phosphorus) and calcium carbonate. It is also the most
abundant mineral in the body. Calcium is necessary for the normal
functioning of nerve conduction and muscle contraction (including
the regulation of the heartbeat). It facilitates neurotransmitter
release, and hormone action via its relay role as a second messenger,
thus playing an important role in mood and endocrine balance. Proper
blood clotting and tissue repair is also dependent on calcium. It
is necessary for the passage of fluids between cell walls. It is
a cofactor for the activity of hundreds of enzymes. It is involved
in the production of the body's primary energy source, adenosine
triphosphate (ATP), due to its role as a citric acid cycle intermediate.
Calcium is involved in immune function by helping to stabilize mast
cells. It regulates cell reproduction and it also regulates the manufacture
of proteins. As we can see, calcium is a vitally important mineral,
so important, that it is maintained at a constant amount in the bloodstream
at all times, to be readily available for the body's needs.
Intake of calcium is reported to be low in the American diet.57 Calcium
(broth) can be considered for use in the following deficiency signs,
symptoms and conditions: pain and inflammation, cramps, muscle spasms,
delusions, depression, insomnia, irritability, hyperactivity, anxiety,
palpitations, hypertension, high cholesterol, allergies, brittle nails,
periodontal and dental disease, pica, rickets, osteomalacia, osteoporosis
and any situation that creates bone loss such as aging, immobilization,
postmenopause, and caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol use.
Phosphorus is an ingredient of ATP, the body's source of energy.
It is therefore a regulator of all enzymes via activation reactions.
It is a component of nucleic acids, which make up our DNA, phospholipids
which make up our cell membranes, and cyclic adenosine monophosphate
(cAMP) which as a second messenger, relays information into the cells.
It buffers acids, and regulates osmotic pressure intracellularly.
Phosphorus (broth) can be considered for use in the following phosphorus
deficiency signs, symptoms and conditions: decreased attention span,
fatigue, weakness, muscle weakness, celiac or sprue disease, rickets,
osteomalacia, primary hyperparathyroidism and seizures.
Magnesium is present in enzymes that generate and stabilize ATP. It
is involved in over 300 enzyme reactions and acts as a cofactor for
vitamins B1and B6. It is involved in the synthesis of cAMP, fatty
acids, proteins, nucleic acids and prostaglandins via delta 6 desaturase.
It contributes to muscle excitability, nerve transmission and allows
the parathyroid gland to function normally. Magnesium deficiency
is the most common dietary deficiency in the U.S. Magnesium levels
in the diets of 10 different, non-industrialized groups, still eating
their traditional diets, were 130–2,850% higher than are consumed
in the modern diet.58 Magnesium deficiency causes a reduction in
all antibodies (except IgE) and antibody forming cells due to its
involvement in protein synthesis.59
Magnesium (broth) can be considered for use in the following magnesium
deficiency signs, symptoms and conditions: loss of appetite, nausea,
vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, nervousness, anxiety, restlessness, confusion,
hyperactivity, insomnia, muscular irritability and weakness, allergies,
immunodepression, kidney stones and heart attack.
Sodium and Potassium
The electrolytes sodium and potassium have a major influence on osmotic
balance between cells and the interstitial fluid (electrolyte balance),
establishing ion gradients across cell membranes, and neutralizing
positive and negative charges on proteins and other molecules. Their
electrical conductivity is necessary for nerve signals, muscle contraction
(including the heart) and hormone/ neurotransmitter release. Sodium,
in particular, is important in nerve and muscle function and maintaining
water balance. Potassium acts as a catalyst in carbohydrate and protein
metabolism. Intake of potassium is low in the American diet.60 Both
minerals are involved in helping us adapt to stress, and during situations
of prolonged stress such as cancer, the body's stores can be
Potassium (broth) can be considered for use in the following potassium
deficiency signs, symptoms and conditions: cramping, shallow breathing,
fatigue, nausea, vomiting, confusion, increased urination, and heart
Sodium (broth) can be considered for use in the following sodium deficiency
signs, symptoms and conditions: muscle weakness, dizziness, headaches,
hypotension, increased heart rate, shock, mental confusion, stupor
Sulfur is a component of connective tissues (cartilage and skin, as
chondroitin and keratin sulfate), proteins (enzymes and antibodies),
hormones, and B vitamins (thiamin and biotin). It is involved in
energy production, blood clotting, phase II detoxification and bile
secretion from the liver.
Sulfur (broth) can be considered for use in degenerative arthritis,
Fluoride is not considered an essential mineral for humans. Its function
is to stimulate and strengthen bone as it is being formed.
Food or Medicine?
Is broth a food or a medicine? It has traditional use as both. As a
food it is generally incorporated into other dishes, serving as a
base structure to make soup, stew, sauce or gravy, or to cook grains
and beans in, instead of water. Broth is not a complete protein,
since it only contains three amino acids. A complete protein needs
to contain all 8 essential amino acids. Therefore it is not a meat
replacement, but it can be used as a meat extender. Since glycine
is used to make other amino acids, it is considered protein sparing.
In addition, because glycine is used to make energy in gluconeogenesis,
consuming glycine spares your own body protein from being broken
down to make energy. Broth is not a meal replacement, which is why
it is used as a starting point for soup, or as the first course of
As a medicine, it is often used alone, sipped at intervals or drunk
much like a tea. The word tea, besides referring to the popular beverage,
also refers to a form of herbal medicine. "Tea" can be
used to describe an infusion or a decoction. To make an infusion, pour
boiling water onto herbs, let soak for 5–10 minutes, discard
the herbs, and drink the tea. This is how black tea, is made. A decoction
differs in that it is made by directly boiling the herbs in water,
for 20–40 minutes. This method is used on substances that are
tougher, like roots, or bones. Broth is a bone and cartilage decoction,
or tea. What this process is doing, with herbs or bones, is removing
the active chemical ingredients into the water by means of heat, time,
and acid, making the nutrients immediately available to absorb. (Vinegar
is also used to remove the minerals from plants when making extractions.)60 Using the standard of herbal formulation, broth qualifies as a medicine.
Being both a food and a medicine, broth has some distinct benefits.
In general, food is a form of medicine that has few side effects and
is difficult to overdose on. There is less likelihood of forgetting
to take the medicine, since eating is a part of a normal daily routine.
This is especially true if the medicinal food can be incorporated into
established eating patterns, such as using broth to cook grain for
a patient who eats grain on a regular basis. Using leftover meat and
vegetable scraps to make medicine is a pretty smart form of recycling.
It is an example of using the entirety of what Nature provides. Most
importantly, broth tastes good, it's a delicious food that people
enjoy eating, and that makes the best medicine.
Broth can be thought of as a protein supplement, and a calcium supplement.
The chemical ingredients extracted from broth are glycine and proline
(collagen/ gelatin), calcium and phosphorus (minerals), hyaluronic
acid and chondroitin sulfate (GAGs), and other minerals, amino acids
and GAGs in smaller amounts.
It's time we reclaim broth making from the past. The All
New Joy of Cooking describes broth as inherently calming, consoling, and
restorative to our spirit and vigor.61 Brewing broth fills a home with
an aroma of indefinable goodness. That, in itself, is medicine. Because
it's easy to absorb, tastes good, and contains a rich concentration
of nutrients, broth makes a distinctively good medicine.
In conclusion, rather than revisiting the disorders broth may be applied
to, (see Appendix B for a complete listing) a review of definitions
associated with broth may illustrate its benefits more accurately:
To 'support and strengthen' the function of connective
tissue. To 'support and protect' the function of bone.
To 'store energy,' the function of yellow bone marrow.
To act as a 'shock absorber and reduce friction,' the function
of cartilage. To be 'flexible and strong,' the function
of collagen. To 'hold it together' and 'keep it together,' also
the function of collagen. To 'soup up,' to increase the
power or speed of. To 'put stock in,' to trust.62
Basic Broth Making and Usage
1. Bones—from poultry, fish, shellfish, beef, lamb*
- cooked remnants
of a previous meal, with or without skin and meat
- raw bones, with
or without skin and meat**
- use a whole carcass or just parts (good
choices include feet, ribs, necks and knuckles)
- don't forget shellfish
shells, whole fish carcasses (with heads) or small dried shrimp
2. Water—start with cold
- enough to just cover the bones
- or 2 cups water per 1 pound bones
3. Vinegar—apple cider, red
or white wine, rice, balsamic
- a splash
- 2 tablespoons per 1 quart water or 2 pounds bones
- lemon juice may
be substituted for vinegar (citric acid instead of acetic acid)
4. Vegetables (optional)—peelings
and scraps like ends, tops and skins or entire vegetable
- celery, carrots,
onions, garlic and parsley are the most traditionally
used, but any will do
- if added towards the end of
cooking, mineral content will be higher
Combine bones, water and vinegar in a pot, let stand for 30 minutes
to 1 hour, bring to a simmer, remove any scum that has risen to the
top, reduce heat and simmer (6–48 hrs for chicken, 12–72
hrs for beef). To reduce cooking time, you may smash or cut bones
into small pieces first. If desired, add vegetables in last ½ hour
of cooking (or at any point as convenience dictates). Strain through
a colander or sieve, lined with cheesecloth for a clearer broth.
Discard the bones. If uncooked meat was used to start with, reserve
the meat for soup or salads.
An easy way to cook broth is to use a crockpot on low setting. After
putting the ingredients into the pot and turning it on, you can just
walk away. If you forget to skim the impurities off, it's ok,
it just tastes better if you do. If you wish to remove the fat for
use in gravy, use a gravy separator while the broth is warm, or skim
the fat off the top once refrigerated. Cold broth will gel when sufficient
gelatin is present. Broth may be frozen for months or kept in the refrigerator
for about 5 days.
1. Soup—Make soup by adding vegetables, beans, grains or meat
to broth. Briefly cook vegetables and meat with butter or oil in the
bottom of a stockpot (5 minutes). Add broth, and grains or previously
soaked beans if you wish. Simmer until everything is cooked through.
Time will vary with the ingredients used, but count on a minimum of
20 minutes. Season at the end of cooking with salt and pepper and spices
of your choice. Consult cookbooks for specific recipe ideas.
2. Cooking Liquid—Use broth in place of water to cook rice, beans
or other grains. Bring broth to a boil, add grains or beans, reduce
heat and cook for instructed time. Or you can simmer vegetables or
meat in a little seasoned broth until cooked. Remove to a plate, thicken
broth with cornstarch, arrowroot or flour, then pour over vegetables
3. Gravy—Make gravy to put on vegetables, meat or biscuits. Put
fat (removed from the broth, or use butter) in a skillet. Add any type
of flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, and stir constantly until browned.
Whisk in broth and cook till thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Tea—Don't forget you can just add salt and sip broth
like tea. This is especially nice in the winter or if you're
feeling sick. Since broth is simultaneously energizing and calming,
it can take the place of morning coffee, afternoon tea, or evening
nightcap. Try it in a thermos and sip throughout the day. Of course,
the most traditional use for seasoned broth is as a first course, to
enhance the digestion of any meal to come.
*Pork bones are not generally recommended for prepared ahead broth,
but are cooked into stew and soup recipes, and boiled pig skin is traditionally
consumed for many of the same purposes as broth.
**Raw bones and meat may be browned first in the oven, or in the bottom
of the stockpot to enhance flavor and color.
Alphabetical Listing of Conditions that Broth Benefits
hyperchlorhydria (reflux, ulcer)
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis)
intestinal bacterial infections
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
loss of appetite
weight loss due to illness
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Marks, D, Basic Medical Biochemistry,
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Peterson, H, Personal Communication, Biochemistry NPLEX Board Review,
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