7 Benefits of Bone Broth

By Cassandra Gate
the founder of Broth Baby,
the supplier for the bone broth base of our herbal medicinal broths

If you subscribe to the theory of like heals like, then it’s no surprise that bone broth is good for our own bones and joints. Bone broth is high in collagen, a protein naturally found in animal cartilage, which helps us repair our own cartilage that wears down over time with age and injuries. Nutrients like GAGS (glycosaminoglycans), a family of carbohydrates found in bones and connective tissue also help to ease joint pain and contribute to overall joint health and repair. 

Commonly seen in the sports and weight lifting world, supplements like chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine are just isolated nutrients from the larger collagen structure. These expensive supplements are often recommended to those who experience joint pain. However, one study compared the effectiveness of chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine vs whole collagen and found that the collagen was actually more effective, indicating that there may be something in the whole food that the supplements miss. Yet another reminder that whole foods are more than the sum of their parts! 

Bone broth is a key player in gut health, especially for those suffering from digestive disorders. The high glycine levels in broth can help increase stomach acid secretion, while glutamine, another amino acid, helps to repair the lining of the intestines. Gelatin has been shown to support healthy gut bacteria growth and control intestinal inflammation. Bone broth is also very health supportive to those with digestive distress because it is easily digested, with it’s nutrients easily available for absorption through the intestinal lining. This can come as a big relief to those suffering from the effects of chemo or radiation induced nausea, those with severe food allergies and people with Crohn's and ulcerative colitis. 

Surprisingly, bones are made up of 50% protein by volume, and even more once you factor in all the connective tissue and joint matter attached to them. All of this is melted down into the broth during the slow simmer process, making bone broth a protein rich food source. This can be especially great for people on high protein diets due to intense exercise and training programs, or helpful for people who are trying to reduce their meat consumption, while still maintaining healthy levels of protein intake. 

Minerals found in the bones, such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus, as well as minerals imparted from vegetables, seaweed and sea salt, all contribute to the high mineral content of bone broth. These minerals are also more bioavailable, meaning easier for your body to absorb and use, than minerals bound up in food that you might not be fully digesting. All of this makes bone broth an obvious choice when we’re feeling run down or sick, just when we need a boost of minerals to help our bodies recover from an immune system attack or a stressful day. 

Speaking of the immune system, broth is also helpful in supporting the healthy functioning of our bodies immune response. By way of supporting gut health, bone broth can help lessen the amount of inflammation and food allergy triggers that distract the immune system and cause imbalanced inflammatory responses in the first place. Bone broth, with it’s soothing effects on the nervous system, can also help us get deeper sleep, which is directly related to proper and effective immune system responses. A healthy body starts with a good nights sleep!

Bone broth is also helpful in detoxing the body and lowering our oxidative stress (responsible for early aging!), which is needed now more than ever with the overwhelming amount of environmental toxins we come in contact with on a daily basis. From car exhaust, to water pollutants, to plastics and pesticides in processed foods, who couldn’t use help detoxing? Glycine, glutathione and an array of minerals helps improve liver function, the organ most responsible for processing and removing harmful substances from our bodies.

Lastly, benefits to skin health are worth mentioning. Underneath our skin is a layer of collagen that helps give our skin it’s youthful texture and tone. This collagen breaks down over time, contributing to signs of aging such as wrinkles and cellulite. Getting healthy amounts of collagen in your diet can improve the hydration, appearance and elasticity of our skin for years to come.

Happy broth drinking!

Broth Baby 

Plants with Benefits : Herbs to Support a Satisfying Sex Life

By Kirsten Cowan
CEO, Angelica & Peony

Herbal medicine and acupuncture offer a lot of support for those experiencing any kind of sexual problem, physical or emotional. This article is intended to introduce you to some herbal allies and offer some simple home and traditional applications for gentle support. For effective treatment of ongoing or serious issues, consult a qualified herbalist (email me if you'd like help finding someone in your area).

Herbs to stoke the flames: Yang Tonics

Many herbs traditionally considered aphrodisiacs in the Chinese materia medica are in the Yang tonic category - they stoke the energetic fires of the body and reinforce the basal energy that governs sexual function and especially libido. Herbs in this category are generally warming, and include a few foods you might be familiar with. You might recognize some of these herbs advertised as aphrodisiacs or 'herbal viagra' but it's not a good idea to indiscriminately guzzle them. Overuse of yang tonics in search of super potency can be overheating and lead to side effects such as headaches and dryness.

Notice what's not on this list? Rhino horn. It's never been considered an aphrodisiac in Chinese Medicine, and is not used by TCM practitioners.

Yin Yang Huo, known as Horny Goat Weed, might be one of the most well-known Chinese libido enhancers. It's been shown to increase erections and ejaculations in studies with rats, and seems to mimic testosterone in the body. 

Dong Chong Xia Cao or Cordyceps. Cordyceps is a type of fungus that grows in the body of a caterpillar. It has been used in Tibet for millenia and is renowned as an aphrodisiac. "People of both sexes usually take one piece of [cordyceps] with a cup of milk to enhance their sexual potency and desire." (Source)

Cuscuta Seed or Tu Si Zi. The tiny seeds of this parasitic vine are used traditionally especially for issues like premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction.

Other herbs that benefit the Yang and might be found in your kitchen include walnuts, fenugrek seed and black cardamom seed.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, herbal medicine is a continuum from foods, which one can use to gently maintain and restore balance, all the way to toxic substances that can only be taken for a short period to deal with serious illness (how I would categorize most Western drugs). So your kitchen is filled with aphrodisiacs! Renowned libido enhancers include lamb, especially the kidneys, walnuts, warming spices such as fenugrek, fennel, cardamom, black pepper, garlic and ginger.

Shrimp is another famed aphrodisiac; 'some Chinese herbalists believe that if one consumes too much shrimp without sexual intercourse, one may develop nosebleeds due to excessive fire built up in the body." Take that under advisement! (Source)

A simple shrimp stir-fry with ginger and garlic is an easy yang enhancing meal, or try spiced dairy or coconut milk as in this ayurvedic recipe, with fenugrek, cardamom and black pepper for a spicy drink that will give you a boost.

These dietary additions are great to support you when you feel a little 'off your game' or to enhance the effects of customized treatment you're receiving from a practitioner. 

The Making of Le Balm

By Corrine Weber
Gold & Thyme

Since returning home to Paris from the States this fall, I’ve been busy cooking at Chambre Noire, a small natural wine and tapas bar located in the 11th arrondisement. With the changing seasons, it was great to be back in a small French kitchen, creating and trying new recipes! I’m now back in Berkeley with Marc for the holidays, and it seems like as good a time as any to explain a bit about why I made LE BALM. It first began as a class on Herb Craft and Medicine Making that I took this summer at the Ohlone Herbal Center in Berkeley and later became a form of creative and “herbal” expression.

On the first evening, I remember walking into the class and feeling grateful – the building was a beautiful red brick structure with large windows and a huge park in front – Mariah, the instructor, had placed a beautiful bouquet of wild flowers in the center of the room – and Rumi, the dog, came to greet me. Mariah began the class with a reading to set the tone. Afterwards, I remember writing PATIENCE + KINDNESS = WISDOM in my journal.  At the time, these words didn’t seem like they had anything to do with medicine making but, in fact, the process of creating LE BALM required both patience and kindness, and ultimately I think I became a bit wiser in the process.

Patience & Kindness

Once I mixed together the lavender, Calendula, Comfrey, plantain and Rosehips with the organic Grapeseed oil, I had to wait. I stored the gallon-sized jar in the pantry and had to wait a month for the oil to become infused. Every morning, I gently turned the jar upside-down so that the mixture would continue moving.  I remember becoming a bit impatient as the days passed, but I also knew that I had to give LE BALM the time it deserved.

Thirty days later, I ran downstairs like a little girl on Christmas morning, so excited to see, and to smell, what my infusion had become. But, as chemistry would have it, I couldn’t open the jar ;(. I proceeded to put the jar in the car and take it to my brother’s, who was able to open it.  We were sitting in the car and I can remember the smell emanating from the jar – lavender, then the Calendula and Rosehips. It was almost like a good wine – you take a sip and once the liquid reaches your stomach, it’s like little fireworks going off, from your navel up to your throat.

I got home, couldn’t open the jar again because of the fermentation process, but was saved once again by my neighbor! The making of LE BALM was quickly becoming more and more of a family affair.  My mom accompanied me to Napa where Rob of the Napa Valley Bee Company helped me to source sustainable beeswax.  Then came the fun part – the pressing!

In class, we got to use this beautiful handmade press, but at my house, we (because I enlisted my mother’s help) used our gloved hands. Although the workshop press was great, there is always something so gratifying about using one’s hands.  Once the oil was separated from the herbs, I measured the beeswax and then added the pressed oil and beeswax to a double-broiler. Again, a test of patience. Slowly but surely, the wax melted into the oil and, as I poured the mixture into the jars, I felt a mixture of pride and gratitude. Little did I know that 3 months after completing my workshop, I would havemy own product in hand. In honor of its multi-dimensional, sense-explosive properties, I named it, “LE BALM.”

I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it!