Monday, November 14, 2011

Bone Broth Brings Relief and Nourishment

"Chicken soup...heals the nerves, improves digestion, reduces allergies, relaxes and gives strength."
-Hanna Kroeger, Ageless Remedies from Mother's Kitchen

Since my digestive problems began so many years ago I have tried everything under the sun.  You name it, from medications to meditation, Vitamix to vitamins, supplements to smoothies, prayers to purees, acupuncture to acupressure, yoga to yogurt, and finally denial to dying of starvation.  Some friends, some enemies, yet all have been a part of the journey finding some light in this long and narrow digestive tunnel.

Recently, I decided to take a step back and "simmer" down to the basics, pun intended!
Today, I am going to take us a few steps beyond chicken soup.  Packaged broth might be good for flavor but does not contribute any nutrition.  I want to talk about why I believe my recent journey with long-simmered stocks can be an essential part of our diet, nourishing not only to the soul but our entire being.  For centuries, cultures all over the world have used this basic remedy to cure hundreds of diseases and ailments.  As they say, it's grandma's penicillin.

After doing some research and consuming daily for the last week I'm in total shock homemade stock isn't #1 on the GP diet, or anyone suffering with declined health.  I can only imagine what it would do to pharmaceutical companies if it were prescribed from doctors as medication.  Here is a short version of why (for details on the "essential" roles of nutrients in broth read here)...
  • Provides our body with easy to consume, digest, and absorb calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and other trace mineral such as sodium and potassium.
  • Rich in gelatin, healing and coating to the GI tract, improves body weight and bone density.
  • Contains glucosamine and chondroiton, reducing arthritis and joint pain.
  • Rich in glycine, an amino acid which enhances gastric acid secretion.  In addition glycine detoxifies the liver, is necessary for pregnancy and aids in recovery from malnutrition.
  • Facilitates digestion and absorption of proteins.
  • Provides soft tissue and wound healing, healthy connective tissue and immune support.
Every one of us is different in terms of what we can eat and drink as well as the severity of our symptoms.  If currently on a liquid diet (I've been there) try just sipping the broth and over time add a bit of rice, then work in some protein (blended if necessary).  Whenever I have a flare up, usually about 1-2 times a month, I'll go on a broth fast for a day and let the stomach rest.  I know this may sound boring but if it can provide us with the nutrients we need and help to heal the digestive system then isn't it worth a try?  If I could, I would bottle up this potion and deliver it to each and every one of you.
However, it is not difficult to make so I encourage you to give it a try, even if its just sipping small amounts throughout the day.  

Choosing Ingredients
The most important detail in making nutrient rich stock is the gelatinous outcome.  The more jello-like it is when it cools, the more nutrients it provides.  It may be strange at first but when heated it will turn right back to a liquid you can sip or eat as soup.
If this is new to you then the easiest way to start is by using parts leftover from a whole roasted chicken, whether home cooked or store bought.  Try to use organic or pasture raised when possible to avoid added hormones and antibiotics.  Use this as a dinner for the family or friends, having a few oz of white meat and/or GP friendly side dishes.
Some stores like my local co-op will sell bags of soup bones.  Otherwise, if you can't find any in the grocery store ask your local butcher or farm.  The best bones to use are beef knuckles/marrow, oxtails, whole chicken or like mentioned, leftover roasted chicken. and....chicken necks/feet.  As for the this part, I feel strange even including this in the post but it's said they make the most nutrient rich soup.

For a simple version you can also just use a whole chicken, place in stockpot with a few chunks of peeled and chopped carrots and some sea salt, bring to a boil, lower heat, cover, and simmer for 3-4 hours.  Follow step 3 below to strain, cool and store.  

Tools for Cooking
Stockpot - This is the most traditional way of simmering stock on low for several hours. 
Slow Cooker - My preferred method of cooking because you can leave it alone to do its magic while at work or sleeping.
Pressure Cooker - At this very moment I am experimenting with my new kitchen toy that extracts all of the nutrients and flavor in less than 2 hours!  I'll be sure to update once I see how it turns out.

*Update - I wasn't satisfied with results from pressure cooker so I have continued the simple use of the slow cooker.

  1. Place 1-2 lbs of bones in pot and cover with cold water.  Add 2 T of apple cider vinegar and let sit for 30 min to an hour.  This pulls the nutrients and minerals off the bones for a more nutrient dense soup.  
  2. Simmer on low for 12-36 hours.  Poultry can be cooked 12-24 hours while beef bones should cook longer.  I cook mine for 20 hours and have great results.
  3. Remove the bones.  Next, fill sink with ice and water then poor through a cheese cloth lined strainer into a separate pot sitting in the ice bath.  Stir until cool and place in fridge.  Once completely cooled down the fat will solidify on top which can be scooped out and discarded.  At this point I divide into containers, saving enough for the next few days, and freeze what's left.  Tip:  Freeze in ice cube trays.  In a standard size tray each cube is 1/8 cup.
*Vegetables and herbs can be added but if you are sensitive to foods and have a hard time with digestion then I suggest just sticking with the bones to begin with.

I hope this reaches out to anyone in need of nourishment, recovery and comfort.

Please let me know if you have questions and better yet, how this medicinal soup made you feel.

Great resources for further reading:  



  1. I suffer from GP and fructose malabsorpotion which has been crap ever since diagnosis, although thankfully it all was diagnosed and i have been able to treat it.

    I think it's very wise to eat soups regularly if suffering from GP. Balance it up between solids and liquids and mix the two where possible. We need nutrition from liquid form as it is whats required of us from time to time. My GP is moderate i waould say, i am predominantly on a solid diet but i make sure saturdays i am eating a sweet patatoe pumpkin prawn soup which is deilcios. Prawn and most seafood i never have trouble digesting iand i recommend it at least 3 days a week. I hope you continue recovering :)

  2. Thanks for the comment!
    Have you found improvement in avoiding fructose? I recently did a post about the FODMAP diet ( and trying to avoid myself.
    Just made a pumpkin potato soup myself and never thought to add prawns. Usually do mix in a little fish or chicken. Thanks for the tip and would love your recipe if you get a chance!

  3. It's tough to say how much FM has affected improved my GP. I forgot to mention i also have a case of mild to moderate Ulcerative Colitis so i pretty much have the whole lot haha!

    What i think imrpoved my GP was basically just leaerning about the condition and taking smaller meals, avoid drinking with meals and near meal time and do excercise as often as possible or just active in general to get the stuff moving inside your digestive system. Thankfully i don't take any medication for it even though i have been prescribed some tablets which help speed things up but i want to remain as natural as possible. I don't really think FM will affect your GP unless of course you test positive to FM and thus to recover your digestive system you must adopt a new diet. I suppose it can't hurt you to try it for a month and record your symptoms. A low FODMAP diet will be of moderate fibre which is good because we GP sufferers have to watch out fibre in take intotal and at meal times.

    I don't realy have a specific receipe, i just found it googling randomly so you can type in potatoe pumpkin prawn in the search box and im sure you will find something. Very easy to tailor it to your needs. I just add pepper, tumeric and some spices to flavour it up. You can use prawns, chicken or whatever really i jsut like seafood because it's easy to digest.

  4. I am making my first beef bone broth with ~1 lb of bones and 3 qts water. It's been simmering in the crockpot for almost a day, I peeked but the broth is still very clear...will it get darker like the beef broth you buy from the store?

    1. Hi Brista, you might want to add another lb of bones for a more dense version. It also depends on the bones you use. A sign of good broth is the gelatin it creates after it cools. Here is a good site with lots of information on broth that I like to reference.

    2. Stephanie thanks for all your great articles and your blog. I had no idea so many people have GP which I recently realized i have myself.
      @brista I have been making bone broth for a couple of years and I always roast the bones first no matter the meat. It enhances the flavour and the colour.
      Typically 24 hrs simmer for chicken broth and 48 for beef. I often add pork bones to either as it really bumps up the gelatin. I used to add all kinds of veggies garlic and onions but am now experimenting with foods and doing the FODMAP which I believe is the main issue for me.
      I have used most of the C spices for a long time as I make my own curries and masalas. Funny what I kept increasing to improve things was more inulin and FODMAPS..and wow..unpleasant.
      I am okay with most proteins and dairy but I also take digestive enzymes esp lipase.
      I also make a jug of ACV/water and drink that through the day and it helps as well as lots of fresh lemon juice.
      Another item I have found helpful is myrrh gum taken with meals. Treating it is all new to me since I discovered what it of the most unpleasant things anyone should ever live with. I am also a low carber which makes it more challenging.

  5. What a great site you have here! My 26-yr-old son (who also has Crohn's and Aspergers) is about to be tested for GP at Temple. He's been nauseas and vomiting for 3 months. There's a wealth of information here. Just want to check on how long to cook the beef bones. It says 36 hrs. above, but on another page (Ginger) 12 hrs. Thanks so much for all your efforts!

    1. Hi Margaret, I'm glad you have found this site helpful and thanks for sharing! Bone broth can do wonders for digestive health, especially Crohn's. Nourishing Traditions cookbook has lots of information on this and other healing foods. Here is a link to some tips on broth, which with beef bones can go anywhere from 12-72 hrs. I say to start with 12-24 hrs and see how that settles. Hope this helps!

  6. Hi Stephanie, What size of slow cooker do you use to make stock and congee? I've been wanting to buy one for a while now but am finding all the options bewildering. I was diagnosed March last year (Although had been very ill with it for 8 years) and find your site very useful (I've been putting coconut oil in everything)

  7. Hi Sheena, I have a 6 quart crock pot that works wonderful and don't believe I spent more than $30 on it. I'm so glad this site has been useful to you, coconut oil is a wonderful thing!
    Here is a link to the cooker I use...