In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) food is medicine, and bone broth is often prescribed for all sorts of problems -- and particularly for increased energy and vitality. While western science focuses on the beneficial impact of the components in bone broth for specific organs, TCM takes a completely different approach and arrives at the same conclusion: make bone broth a part of your regular diet to improve your health and well-being.
Foundational Principles of TCM
There are two foundational principles of TCM that are key to understanding why bone broth is a frequent TCM treatment. First, TCM centers on supporting the life force (Qi pronounced “chee”) that circulates through the body. The amount of your Qi is determined by genetics, lifestyle, food, and external pressures like air quality. It also diminishes as we age. Not much that can be done about heredity, but the other factors can either decrease or expand the amount of Qi. Second, Qi is made of two complementary forces (yin and yang). Imbalances between yin and yang can cause disease.
Hold on…I am getting to bone broth. Just a few more TCM basics.
TCM does not think of the organs only in terms of their discrete physiological function as western medicine does. Instead, the organs are connected to systems and channels that move Qi. The important organ-system that relates to bone broth is the kidneys. The kidneys are not just the place that filters waste and extracts extra fluids. For TCM, the kidneys are the central repository of Qi. The kidney system in TCM is the root of life. Seems like you’d want to have that system working pretty darn well.
The kidney is the organ of water and fire, the abode of yin and yang, the sea of essence, and it determines life and death.
~Zhang Jie Bin (Chinese doctor, 1563-1640)
In TCM, the kidney system is also associated with blood and bones. Sounds weird since we usually just think of the kidneys as part of urinating, but it can make sense even from a western medicine perspective. You probably remember from high school biology that blood is produced in bone marrow. What you may not know is that the kidneys make a hormone that signals to the bone marrow to produce red blood cells. Another function of the kidneys is to make an active form of Vitamin D that is vital to the absorption of calcium. We need to absorb calcium to keep bones strong.
Now to bone broth ...
For TCM, bone broth nourishes the kidneys because the “essence” in the bones used to make it support the body’s blood and bones which leads to a stronger Qi. In other words, if you want more energy, drink bone broth.
TCM practitioners might prescribe bone broth for any number of ailments; sluggish digestion, inflammation, fatigue, depression, anxiety, achyness, and even infertility, among others.
Also, in a TCM approach bone broth is vital as we age since the finite amount of life force we are born with is depleted as we age. Strengthening the kidney system can slow that process. In other words, bone broth helps us manage the changes that come with aging.
TCM and western science have completely different perspectives on how the body works, and yet, both systems conclude that bone broth can support health. You can sip it (here are some ideas) or cook with it (lots of recipes here).
Don’t worry about “how much,” just add it to your diet. TCM practitioners caution that you won’t feel an instantaneous effect, but after a few weeks of daily intake, you’ll start to feel a shift in your well-being and an increase in vital essence.
Sounds good, doesn’t it?