Bone broth: Your grandma’s health remedy makes a comeback

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WRIC) — The bone broth is on the stove at The Elderberry in Charlottesville.  A half a day later, it will hit store shelves, all in the name of nutrition.

“It’s really something lovely to sip on a cool morning or evening. I love it,” says user Michelle, who added this type of broth to her diet about ten years ago when she was having bone density issues.

Michelle makes it from scratch when she has time, but more often buys the broth at The Elderberry, which describes itself as a community-based herbal apothecary making batches using locally-raised beef and chicken.

The remedy is the result of a slow-simmer, about nine hours for chicken and 29 for beef.

“Which releases the collagen, releases the gelatin, releases the calcium, all of which is incredibly nourishing to our body, to our bones,” Michelle explains.

The concept is not a new one. Our grandmothers turned to broth to treat everything from the common cold to upset stomachs and more. There is new research, however, finding that adding bone broth to your diet can boost your health.

“Rheumatoid arthritis, osteo-arthritis, any joint pain to help decrease inflammation, in some studies it helps to build up the bone,” says Katrice Mayo, a clinical dietician at Chippenham Hospital.

Mayo adds the slow boil for hours and hours draws everything out of the bones to help healing. “The potassium, the magnesium, the sodium, the phosphorous, the glycine, the prolein, the glucosamine,” she said.

“We don’t make any medical claims on it, but what we do is we focus people out to the research so they can read about it themselves,” explains registered herbalist Heather Wetzel.

She recommends bone broth to her clients a few times a week for general wellness, and one or two cups a day for anyone recovering from childbirth, surgery or an illness.

“I have older people that have had fractures that come in here, and their doctors have commented how quickly they seem to be bouncing back and they credit it to the fact that they’ve been boosting their bone broth,” says The Elderberry owner and herbalist, Janet Wolfe.

Wolfe teaches classes on making homemade bone broth to show people how easy it is to prepare. She also frequently educates the community on this centuries-old practice.

“In Chinese medicine, beef broth is considered a very deep immune builder. So someone who is really depleted or coming off of childbirth, chemotherapy,” said Wolfe, who added that beef, chicken and fish broths all come with their own benefits.

The bone broth health craze is catching on as celebrities get on board.  Salma Hayek and Shailene Woodley have gone public with their use.  Kobe Bryant credits it for helping him to get back on the court following an injury.

Michelle also recently used it following a medical procedure.  “My bones, I could just feel it, my body, my strength came back,” she said.

She says it was just what she needed.  “It was so nourishing for me,” she said. “I can’t speak more highly of it.”

"As far as more health results, I think people just feeling better is how I'd sum it up," Heather Wetzel explains the boost users experience from regularly drinking bone broth.
“As far as more health results, I think people just feeling better is how I’d sum it up,” Heather Wetzel explains the boost users experience from regularly drinking true bone broth, like the type prepared at The Elderberry.

Mayo says be careful what you drink, however., as not all bone broths are created equal. Commercial cooking stocks and soup bases have more additives than nutrition. Natural, organic ingredients plus time make a true bone broth.

Mayo warns that bone broth may not be appropriate for someone with congestive heart failure or renal failure, so it is important that you talk with your doctor before adding it to your diet. She says many other conditions can improve with this simple method.

“Food is medicine, and people are searching for answers,” Mayo explained.  “It helps to fill in the gaps of nutrition that you’re missing in your diet.”

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