As practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine, many of us are treating infertility patients. Some of us have treated only a few patients who are trying to conceive; some of us solely focus on the treatment of infertility.
As my practice has matured, it has become more and more focused on women's health and infertility. And, although I always treat based on TCM pattern diagnosis—I also find it extremely important to incorporate lifestyle and dietary modifications into the treatment plan of my patients. One of the most important dietary additions that I feel should be incorporated into such treatment plans is the daily ingestion of homemade bone broth.
As students of our medicine, we know that the Kidney energy is strongly associated with infertility. We need an abundance of Kidney Qi, Yang and Yin to be able to reproduce. As well we know that Jing is the basis of Kidney Qi. If Jing is lacking, one will age faster, have a weaker constitution and their ability to reproduce will diminish.
So, as I was taught (and, I'm sure you were too) the main treatment principle for all infertility cases is the boost the Kidney energy. Whether the patient has in conjunction Heart Qi stagnation, Liver blood deficiency, Spleen Qi deficiency or a cold uterus—we also always need to focus on tonifying the Kidneys.
In addition to acupuncture and herbal medicine, I recommend that my infertility patients consume one cup of bone broth on a daily basis to boost Kidney Jing and therefore improve their ability to successfully reproduce.
Why bone broth?
As you may recall from anatomy class-- the inside of bone contains bone marrow and according to TCM theory, bone marrow is produced from Kidney Jing. So, basically drinking a cup of bone broth daily is like drinking a cup of Kidney Jing.
When one cooks down the bones of an animal into a broth, the bone marrow and its nutrients—namely: fat and protein and some minerals like calcium, potassium and magnesium—seep out into the broth making it a rich, nutrient dense, Jing-rich, fertility boosting concoction.
Clinically, I have seen a dramatic increase in the fertility of my patients who are compliant and drink a cup of bone broth daily. Depending on the case, I may also give them some raw Chinese herbs to add to their broth. I know we were all taught the importance of bone and bone broth in the treatment of Kidney deficiencies, however often times it's difficult to implement such recommendations into our practice. I am here to urge you to do so. Drinking a cup of homemade bone broth will have a tremendous impact on the health and fertility of your patients.
Beware though: there will be many patients that will moan about cooking a homemade bone broth. However, it is important for you to urge them to do so. Before you ask them to take this task on, make sure you make a couple batches for yourself first. This way you will know the experience and be able to share with them how simple the whole process is. Personally, making homemade bone broth is one of my favorite things to do—in the business of life, it slows me down. It feels nourishing, therapeutic and really, really good for my Kidney Jing.
My favorite bone broth recipes come from the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. Check out the book, it's an amazing resource for those practitioners who focus on nutrition as part of their practice of TCM.
Lastly, there are four secrets to making good bone broth:
- Use the highest quality of bones you can find. Bones from grass fed animals is best.
- Add vinegar to the water to draw the minerals out of the bones into the broth.
- Roast and brown the bones in the oven before adding them to the stock.
- Be in the moment when you're making it—and see the process as a therapy in and of itself.
Click here for previous articles by Aimee Raupp, LAc.