Author: Dr. Maryam Mahanian, DTCM, RAc
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I want to share with you why I love bone broth for fertility.
Let me just start by saying that bone broth is….fantastic! For you and your entire family! It wards off colds and flus, build your joints, gives you more energy, helps you to sleep better and improves your memory to name a few.
In my Chinese medicine clinic, I find bone broth especially important for enhancing fertility.
It may sound pretty “traditional” but more and more it has gained popularity in our modern world. A while back I heard about a trendy cafe in Manhattan that serves cups of bone broth to replace the morning cup of coffee!…and customers line up halfway down the block!
Well, bone broth is not something new in Chinese medicine. Practitioners have been prescribing Bone Broth for centuries, particularly in the area of women’s health. In fact, bone broth is thought of as a “medicinal food”.
When women come to see me in my Chinese medicine clinic wanting to conceive, I thoroughly advise them on their diet and ALWAYS recommend they incorporate bone broth into their daily regimen.
Here’s why Bone broth is so fantastic in the area of women’s health – and particularly for infertility – according to the incredible time-tested wisdom of Chinese medicine:
Bone Broth nourishes the blood.
Are your menstrual periods super light, delayed or irregular? Do you have a thin uterine lining? Have you had previous miscarriages? Are your iron levels low? Do you have trouble sleeping at night? Is your facial complexion pale or withered? Do your nails break easily? Do you find that you’re losing hair? Is your skin dry? Are you anxious? If you answered yes to some of these questions then you’re likely deficient in blood.
Women in particular are prone to being deficient in blood because they menstruate and lose blood every month. Therefore, they’re constantly needing to replenish their blood that’s been lost.
For optimal fertility, you need a sufficient amount of blood in order to nourish the reproductive organs. If there’s not enough blood, then there will be a lack of proper blood flow to the reproductive organs. Lack of blood will mean lack of oxygen, nourishment and hormones to the uterus and ovaries.
Blood is also important to having regular monthly periods, a healthy pregnancy, adequate postpartum recovery, sufficient breast milk and prevention of postpartum depression & anxiety. If we’re deficient in blood, these body’s processes become very difficult and sometimes impossible.
Bone broth is one of the most nourishing foods we can have in our diet for our blood aspect. It’s nutrient rich and are the building blocks for your body to produce more blood and supplement the blood reserves you have.
Bone broth helps to build a healthy uterine lining which is essential in supporting a healthy menstrual cycle and proper implantation of the embryo. In Chinese medicine, if the uterine lining is too thin, this is a sure sign of blood deficiency.
Women who suffer from recurrent miscarriage also often exhibit a blood deficiency pattern.
Bone Broth Nourishes our Jing & Reproductive potential
Our reproductive potential is referred to as our “Jing” in Chinese medicine. The concept of Jing is quite interesting. Jing is our life’s nourishment. Jing is what gets us through life. Jing represents our foundation, life force, genetics, libido, fertility, memory and brain function. Jing is stored in the deepest level of our body – in our ovaries, kidneys, brain, semen and bone marrow. Jing determines one’s vitality, resistance to disease and longevity.
There are two kinds of Jing. The first is the jing that were born with. This kind of jing is irreplaceable. It serves one throughout their life and when all the jing is used up life ends. It comes from the health and constitution of our parents. If our parents are vital and healthy then were born with a sufficient amount of jing. If not, we may end up suffering with problems of growth and development. The second kind of Jing is acquired. This you can replenish with a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Bones are governed by the kidney system which is the same system that rules our reproductive potential. As bone marrow is associated directly with the kidney jing, bone broth is incredibly beneficial in nourishing our jing.
Conceiving and growing a healthy baby draws on the mother’s Jing considerably. Having bone broth before during & after pregnancy will ensure that there is sufficient Jing that’s needed and to replenish the Jing that’s lost.
By nourishing Jing, you can increase egg quality and the quality of semen in men.
Whether you’re trying to get pregnant or not, the fact is that everyone needs more vitality – there is no limit – and therefore everyone needs to nourish their jing.
In China, bone broth is known as “longevity soup” because the unique nutrition from the marrow promotes growth and development.
Bone Broth Heals the gut lining and strengthens our digestion
Strong digestion is central to good health and well being but is particularly central when it comes to the reproductive system. If we don’t break down and absorb our food properly, our bodies do not create enough Qi (energy) and blood to nourish our reproductive systems.
Bone broth strengthens our digestion by healing our gut so that we can get maximum benefit out of the foods we eat.
Broth has glutamine which strengthens the lining of the intestine to prevent and treat leaky gut syndrome.
Broth also has glycine which is an amino acid (building block of protein) which increases the production of stomach acid in order to improve the breakdown of the foods we eat.
What if you’re a vegetarian??
If you’re a vegetarian and reading this, you’re probably wondering if a vegetable broth will be good enough to replace this magical bone broth.
Vegetable broths are great but are just NOT as blood or Jing nourishing as chicken or beef bone broth. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
Great source of Omega 3
One of the vital nutrients in bone marrow is the omega 3 fatty acid DHA which is required for development of the brain, eyes and other organs in infants.
Bone broth is used for anxiety & insomnia
Bone marrow 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 great to treat stress, anxiety and insomnia.
When the body is under stress and not calm, fertility becomes so much more difficult as blood is directed away from the reproductive organs and essentially starve the reproductive organs of proper nourishment.
Should you use Beef bones or Chicken bones?
If you’re low in iron, I recommend beef bones as beef is richer in blood.
If you have weak digestion, I recommend chicken bones.
But honestly, when my patients ask me this question, I simply tell them to do what is easiest for them.
In my home, I more often use chicken bones since I often will have the leftover bones from a ready-made rotisserie chicken that I’ve bought from the supermarket.
The following recipes are chicken and beef bone broth recipes. You’ll notice that the recipes call for apple cider vinegar and slightly acidic vegetables such as carrots. These are added to help the minerals to be extracted from the bone and their marrows.
Drink at least 1 to 3 cups per day of bone broth when trying to conceive, during pregnancy and especially during postpartum time.
A Simple Chicken Bone Broth Recipe for Beginner’s
This recipe is taken from “Feed Your Fertility” by Emily Bartlett & Laura Elrich
Bones from 1 rotisserie chicken (preferably organic and free range)
1 tablespoon (15 mL) apple cider vinegar
Onions and/or onion peels, carrots, and celery (optional)
After eating your rotisserie chicken, place the entire frame of the chicken (the bones, skin and cartilaginous bits) into a slow cooker or stock pot.
Cover the bones with water, adding 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar per chicken frame. Top with the lid and cook on low for a minimum of 6 hours up to 24 hours or until the bones crumble when pinched.
Carefully strain out the broth through a fine-meshed metal sieve and discard the bones. Use the broth immediately, store in the fridge for about a week, or freeze for future use in ice cube trays for quick defrosting. If saving for later, consider concentrating the broth by simmering it until it is half of its volume to save on space in your fridge or freezer.
Beef Bone Broth Recipe
(Taken from “Ancient Wisdom Modern Kitchen: Recipes from the East for Health, Healing, and Long Life” by Yuan Wang, Warren Shier, and Mika Ono)
Bone-Building Stock (Makes 10 to 14 cups)
Once you have made the stock, simply add ingredients you prefer: veggies such as mushrooms, carrots, Chinese cabbage, or kale; and/or meat such as shrimp, chicken, beef, or pork. Season with salt or soy sauce to taste. You can also make one large batch and freeze the broth to use later.
2 pounds of cooked or raw beef, lamb, or pork bones (You can often buy just bones at your local market.)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (the acid is necessary to draw out the marrow)
16 cups of water
1 medium size carrot (optional) chopped into 1-inch pieces (Can also use broccoli stems, mushrooms, or leeks)
1 medium-size onion chopped into 1-inch pieces
- Place the bones, apple cider vinegar, water, and vegetables (if using) in a large pot. If the bones aren’t covered with liquid, add water until they are.
- Bring to boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes. Skim off and discard any froth that rises to the top of the stock.
- For beef bones, simmer, covered, for 8 to 10 hours; add more water if needed. For pork or lamb bones, simmer, covered, for at least 2 1/2 hours.
- Remove the bones, vegetables, and ginger from the stock, using a slotted spoon, a strainer, or piece of cheesecloth.
- Skim off any excess fat. Season the stock with salt if desired (or wait to add until you cook with the stock).
- If you aren’t using the stock immediately, you can store it in the fridge for a few days or freeze it in small portions for later use.
Here is another simple Slow Cooker Beef Bone Broth recipe I found online with pictures for added clarity – or you can just google it as there are literally millions of different recipes – from simple to more complicated:
I wish you the best of luck in your new Bone Broth endeavours! You won’t regret it!