What the Hell is Bone Broth?

I’m sure you’ve heard about it.

Or maybe you’ve seen Al Roker make a terrible joke about it, and you laughed, because you’re embarrassed for him.

I’m not going to give you recipes, or tell you that it’s a miracle, but I will definitely share a few things…

In a nutshell, bone broth is thought to:

  1. Protect joints
  2. Improve gut health
  3. Improve skin health
  4. Improve immune function
  5. Promote metabolism and anabolism

In my own experience, referred to as an anecdote (I know it sounds fancy, and I like that), bone broth has helped to reduce chronic soreness and inflammation in my left knee and shoulder. I experienced continued inflammation — it was visible and painful — in my left knee from October 2016 until I began using bone broth in April of 2017. My shoulder has been an issue since high-school hockey back in 2005, but I’ve experienced less pain and clicking since April as well.

That’s really the reason why I’m writing this. I’ve experienced drastic changes, and I want to share that with you.

“Regular consumption of bone broth can improve your digestive issues (and therefore your intangible health); it can reduce your aches, pains, and clicks in your joints (your perception of health); and it can decrease the appearance of wrinkles and cellulite (your appearance of health).”

How and why does it do that?

Here’s what we think.

Good bone broths contain a ton of vitamins, minerals, essential and non-essential amino acids. These components are thought to be responsible for the benefits associated with consuming bone-broth, although there are issues when it comes to absorbability, and how your body actually metabolizes these components.

This list is not to say that bone broth definitely does the following things. It’s a compilation of what we think it may do at this point.


Below are a few main components that are being buzzed about at the moment:

  • Glycosaminoglycans (GAG, for short) – GAG’s, like hyaluronic acid and chondroitin-sulfate are components of bone broth.
    • Hyaluronic Acid is found in large concentrations in the skin, joints, and within eye sockets and in other connective tissues where it helps retain collagen, increase moisture, and provide elasticity and flexibility. (1) It can:
      • Hydrate skin;
      • Reduce wrinkles;
      • Treat sores, sunburns, and wounds;
      • Lubricate joints;
      • Reduce eye dryness and discomfort.
    • Glucosamine (another GAG) can reduce the rate of collagen degradation and improve symptoms of osteoarthritis (2).
    • Chondroitin Sulfate (yet another GAG) is thought to support healthy inflammatory response and improve cardiovascular, bone, and skin health as well as cholesterol levels. Scientific consensus is uncertain as studies don’t show much of a difference between chondroitin and placebo supplementation, though supplementation in conjunction with glucosamine seem to show positive results similar to glucosamine itself (3).


  • Minerals and electrolytes
    1. Calciummitigates the risks of developing osteoporosis through maintaining bone density during aging (4).
    2. Magnesium – a lack of magnesium raises blood pressure and reduces insulin sensitivity, and increases neural excitation. Magnesium deficiency is common, as it’s the second largest mineral deficiency in the US. It’s also been associated with protection against depression and ADHD (5)
    3. Potassium – Highly protective against cardiac arrest and stroke as it can decrease blood pressure (6)
    4. Phosphorus – Needed for formation of bones and teeth; plays an important role in how the body uses carbs and fats; needed for utilization of protein for growth, maintenance, and repair of cells and tissues; also helps with production of ATP. In conjunction with B vitamins, it helps with kidney function, muscle contraction, normal heartbeat, and nerve signaling (7).


  • Collagen is the main structural protein that forms connective tissue in the body. It also seals the protective lining in the gut, improving nutrient absorption, and blocking the absorption of undigested food into the blood stream (leaky gut, gross).
    1. When collagen is broken down, it makes gelatin, which is REALLY what seals the openings in the gut.


  • Proline is an amino acid (protein building block) that can play a role in cartilage and joint regeneration, reduction of cellulite due to connective tissue regeneration, and regeneration of the gut lining (8).


  • Glutamine is an amino acid protective of the lining of the gut, fuels the cells in the small intestine which prefers it as a fuel source over glucose (where most of your absorption takes place), which could help with blood glucose, insulin secretion, insulin sensitivity, and reasonably,  — and I’m stretching here — obesity (9).


  • Arginine is an amino acid which is important for blood flow and nitric oxide levels. It’s been shown to increase the effects of nitric oxide – improving blood flow, reducing blood pressure, increasing growth hormone, increasing anaerobic capacity, acts as an antioxidant, and improves insulin secretion and sensitivity (10). Arginine is also said to improve immune function, wound healing, growth hormone production, and assist with liver cell regeneration and sperm production.


  • Glycine is an amino acid and neurotransmitter which can both stimulate and depress brain function. Clinical studies show that it can improve cognition, sleep, and symptoms of schizophrenia. It also is thought to slow cartilage, tissue, and muscle loss through improving antioxidant function, and down-regulate genes associated with age-related sarcopenia (muscle loss) (12)


The Good


I know, that’s a whole lot of information.

In summary, due to the various components discussed above, consumption of bone broth is thought to have the following effects:

  1. Hydrate skin, reduce wrinkles.
  2. Improve healing of sores, sunburns, and wounds.
  3. Lubricate joints.
  4. Reduce eye dryness.
  5. Slow the rate of cartilage and connective tissue degradation in the body and improve symptoms of osteoarthritis.
  6. Improve immune and inflammatory response.
  7. Improve cardiovascular health.
  8. Maintain and improve bone density.
  9. Improve “leaky gut” syndrome.
  10. Protect the gut lining.
  11. Improve nutrient absorption.
  12. Reduce cellulite by increasing connective tissue repair.
  13. Improve sleep.


The Bad.

Just because you’re putting something in your body doesn’t mean that you’re going to absorb it and use it.

You are what you eat (and absorb).

You may want to heal your gut first. Though consuming this with a McDonalds diet would be better than just eating McDonalds itself, it’s not necessarily going to help you a ton.

Second, while it has been a few years since the study came out, researchers published findings in 2013 that bone broth were found to have “markedly high lead concentrations when compared to water”, and advised docs and nutritionists to consider lead contamination when advising patients to adopt bone broth diets (13).

High lead concentrations are not good.

Luckily, there’s a way to control for that. Although I don’t have research to back it up, it’s probably a smart idea to ensure that the bone-broth you’re buying is as squeaky clean as it can be, and that it’s coming from Grass-Fed, pasture-raised, antibiotic and hormone free, non-GMO fed animals.


Where do I get Bone Broth?

Of course, you can make your own by simmering bones with apple cider vinegar, water, and vegetables for 24-48 hours.

No, I won’t give you a recipe.

Yes you can find hundreds of them on Google.

Here’s a breakdown of a few different store-bought brands – which I use – in the event that you don’t have the time to make your own broth, or your afraid of asking your local butcher about his/her bones.

What’s scarier, a butcher or a clown?

I digress.


Pacific Bone Broth Kettle and Fire Bonafide Provisions
  • Cheap
  • Likely has MSG
  • Likely has preservatives
  • Isn’t bone broth
  • Might be made by clowns**
  • Around $5 for 8oz
  • Pasture raised, Free Range
  • Organic, non-GMO feed
  • 12 hour simmer
  • no gelatin
  • Around $16 bucks for 24 oz
  • Organic
  • Pasture raised
  • 48 hr simmer
  • Frozen (a good sign)
  • has gelatin
  • # 1 selling, so they say (it’s gotta be worth something)
**that's a joke, it's probably not. But, do you know that for a fact?


Can I turn all of this information into a quote?

Here goes:

Regular consumption of bone broth can improve your digestive issues (and therefore your intangible health); it can reduce your aches, pains, and clicks in your joints (your perception of health); and it can decrease the appearance of wrinkles and cellulite (your appearance of health).


Whether you choose to experiment with bone broth or not is up to you. It has its pros and cons, and you’re educated enough to make your own decision — at least, I hope you are.

I’m not a doctor. This is not medical advice. I’m just a nerd who likes to read research, and I figured I’d be productive by sharing it with you.

I’m a nerd, I know.

I read it so you don’t have to.



ps. If there’s anything you’re curious about, and don’t have the time, patience, or know-how to learn about it, let me know. I’ll be sure to post on it if it’s worth-while.


Images courtesy of:
Marketingtuig Digital Creatives
Rene Asmussen Photography
Public Domain Pictures

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