Medicinal Bone Broth for Winter’s Woes

Sick man drinking broth

Like many of us, you may wait till the last minute before you start scrambling to find an easy way to banish the first sign of the winter woes. Yes, that’s the case for many of us with too busy a lifestyle. We find ourselves unprepared to prevent the onset of a bad cold, sore throat, earache, and/or stomach flu! Because that’s happened to me not once but numerous times, I finally decided to get ahead of the game. This year I already have some frozen medicinal broths and also a small arsenal of other “get over it” remedies and supplements. The most important of these preparations, in my view, is making sure you have ready-to-serve warming, healing foods—I call them “medicinal bone broths”—right when you need them.

If you’re one of the super wise ones out there, you’ll not only make some medicinal broth in case you catch a bug, but you’ll also start boosting your immune system and lessening the chance you’ll get sick in the first place right now. These broths are a little different than what I normally teach and write about, but they’re important because of their power-packed effect to reduce or kill infections and other viruses that can lay us low. First and foremost, you’ll need to make the basic broths that I detail in the recipes below. After that you can designate what herbs, roots, spices, and vegetables (also noted below) will best serve to turn that basic bone broth into a medicinal bone broth. So let’s get started!

Why Bone Broth?

We already know from my favorite books, Nourishing Broth and Nourishing Traditions, that including broth in your daily diet has profound health benefits. This fact is backed up even more in Monica Corrado’s latest, Cooking Techniques for the Gut and Psychology Syndrome, Part One: Meat Stock and Bone Broth. Finally, broth has officially hit the mainstream restaurants, and you can easily find many online studies suggesting that cartilage, gelatin, and other nutrients from bones can help with numerous health issues,  including skin conditions, pain, digestive disorders, autoimmune disease, arthritis, colds, and much more. Additionally, medicinal bone broth, unlike any other remedy, is a tasty, welcome addition on those days when you’re striving to get back to wellness.

In my stack of read and unread notes, articles, and herbal magazines like The Essential Herbal and Herb Quarterly, I found a wealth of information regarding some of the wonderful medicinal ingredients for adding to your basic bone broths after you make them. So come and learn with me!

Adding some of the specific herbs, spices, roots, and vegetables that I suggest below produces a highly beneficial and medicinal meal. And while we’re on the subject, take a look at, one of my favorite places to learn about medicinal herbs, spices, and roots. You can eventually find out which ones in particular are the most beneficial to your condition or family situation. As for purchasing great organic herbal and spice ingredients, I highly recommend Pacific Botanicals.

Medicinal Bone Broths and Suggested Ingredients

Immune enhancing tonic: Chicken broth with any type of mushrooms, kelp, astragalus, codonopsis, nettle, calendula, garlic, onion, and bay.

Marrow broth (the body’s blood bank): Beef broth with bones that contain marrow. Add nettle, oat straw, horsetail, shitake mushrooms, and calendula.

Fish broth for thyroid support: Snapper or other non-oily fish heads and/or bones. Add seaweed, reishi mushrooms, ashwagandha, astragalus, and bay. Sally Fallon recommends non-oily fish as her studies indicate that oily fish broth may become rancid. However, there are those who swear by oily fish. Wise Choice Market offers a free ebook of recipes for various fish broths you might like, available free with a purchase of broth.

Antioxidant rich broth: Chicken broth, lemongrass, shitake mushrooms, turmeric, paprika, and bay.

Recommended Simmering Times

I personally simmer my broths for approximately 12 hours. However, simmering times are generally a personal decision based on experience and study. Anywhere from 3–24 hours are general recommendations. See Nourishing Broth for specifics. And to find out what type of broth is best for you, pick up Corrado’s Meat Stock and Bone Broth.

Ingredient Indications

Adaptogenic ingredients: As they are roots, these require longer simmering times. For your pot of bone broth soup, 1–2 tablespoons should be sufficient.

Ashwagandha: Calming, thyroid support, nervous system support, autoimmune support.

Astragalus: Illness prevention, immune system support.

Codonopsis: Energizing, immune system support.

Dulse: Provides selenium.

Gotu kola: Calming, gut and skin improvement, circulatory, brain health.

Kelp and alaria: Provides iodine and calcium.

Marshmallow root: Soothing, slimy to aid gastrointestinal issues.

Mushrooms, dry or fresh: Mushrooms require a longer simmering time to extract all their highly potent and healing components. Add them in the beginning to ensure you get the maximum benefit. Listed below are mushrooms that include not only general immune support but also additional support in one or more area:

  • Chaga – Primarily for gut health, anti-cancer and respiratory tonic.
  • Reishi – Primarily for liver, respiratory, and anti-aging bitter. Add only 1–2 slices.
  • Shitake, maitake – Primarily for general immune system support.
  • Turkey tails – Primarily for cancer support.

Seaweed: This doesn’t require a long simmering time. Best added in the last 30 minutes;  1–2 strips are sufficient. (Use caution with hyperthyroid disease.)

Herbs and Spices

Use 1–2 tablespoons, or to taste. May be simmered in the broth from the onset. As a courtesy to my readers, I’ve supplied the Herbs2000 link for more information on each ingredient:

Note: You can never use too much garlic or onion (smiles)!

Winning Supplements for the Winter Woes

  • Immuplex: This is a powerful formula indicated for impaired immune system function, including infections, both bacterial and viral.
  • Congaplex: Contains, among other nutrients, calcium lactate, vitamins A and C complex, and protomorphogens to support the immune and lymphatic systems. Available in capsules and a children’s chewable.
  • Echinacea-C: Enhances the immune system. Indicated for colds, flu, inflammation, boils, and infections.

Fermented Foods and Beverages

Don’t forget that good gut flora is essential, as this list of benefits shows:

  • Prevents decay, not only in food but also in the bowels.
  • Stimulates the peristaltic movement of the intestines.
  • Assists in the circulation of blood.
  • Has a harmonizing effect on the stomach, strengthening the acidity of gastric juice when production lags. Reduces acidity when production is up.

To learn even more about fermentation and how to make your own fermented foods like kefir and beet kvass, see my Cook Your Way to Wellness DVD. And last, but certainly not least, remember to incorporate my favorite cod liver oil and high vitamin butter from Green Pasture.

Recipes to Stave Off the Winter Woes

Fire Cider

—Recipe courtesy of Rosemary Gladstar. For a good source of fire cider that contains turmeric and is already made for you, check out

This vinegar infusion is packed with antimicrobial and warming herbs–perfect for fending off bacteria and viruses during the winter season. Caution: Fire cider may be too strong for children, the elderly, or those who cannot tolerate hot, spicy beverages. For such individuals, you may dilute it by putting it in a soup or combining it with salad dressing.

1–2 heads of garlic
1 large onion
1 large piece of ginger root
1 small to large piece of fresh horseradish
1–3 hot peppers
Handful of peppercorns
Salt and/or honey to taste
Organic apple cider vinegar


  1. Using a food processor or by hand, chop up garlic, onion, ginger root, horseradish, and hot peppers.
  2. Place chopped ingredients in a mason jar. Add peppercorns. If desired, add salt and/or honey. Pour in enough apple cider vinegar to cover the plant material and then some.
  3. Let sit for at least 1 month, shaking occasionally. Strain and store in the cupboard.
  4. Suggest 1–2 or more tablespoons daily.

Basic Bone Broth

See the recommended books above for even more explicit bone broth recipes. The meat from the oxtails, chicken, or fish may be mixed into your medicinal bone broth soup for a hardy addition.

Chicken bone broth
: chicken back bones and feet
Beef bone broth: beef oxtails and/or marrow bones
High gelatin broth: 1 pig foot and chicken feet
Fish broth: snapper head and/or bones, or use some other non-oily fish (see special instructions below)

Add to above ingredients:
1 gallon or more water
½–1 tablespoon organic apple cider

Instructions for chicken, beef, or high gelatin bone broth:

  1. Place bones of your choice in a crockpot, or use a soup pot if you’re making it on the stovetop. Fill with approximately 1 gallon of water, or enough to cover the bones. Add apple cider vinegar to help extract the minerals from the bones.
  2. Set the crockpot on high for first hour, then turn to low for the remaining cook time. On the stovetop, allow broth to come to a gentle boil, then lower to a simmer for the duration of the cook time, about 12 hours. (See “Recommended Simmering Times” above.)
  3. Remove bones and/or marrow to a large glass bowl to cool. (Separate the marrow from the bone to add back into the broth.) Once the bowl has cooled, store in the refrigerator overnight. The following day, scoop the broth into BPA-free containers.
  4. Freeze or use a portion of the broth to make a medicinal bone broth soup right away.

Instructions for fish broth:

This requires special cooking instructions. Please see the recipe in my blog post “Fish Broth and Your Thyroid!

Hardy Root Stew

This creamy orange high carotenoid soup can be combined with sourdough bread or crackers to bring on a great night’s sleep. Modified and made to meet Nourishing Traditions criteria. You may freeze this stew for later use if desired.

1 large white onion, diced
4 or more cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil
1 medium to large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 medium white potato, peeled and diced
2 medium to large carrots, peeled and diced, or sliced in rounds
1 cup frozen, non-GMO corn, or fresh kernels from non-GMO corn
½ cup or more whole milk or cream


  1. Sauté onions and garlic lightly in ghee or coconut oil until translucent. Toss in potatoes and carrots.
  2. Barely cover with water (this is important as less water creates a thicker, creamier soup). Simmer until vegetables are soft.
  3. Follow instructions below for your preferred consistency, chowder or puree.

Instructions for a chunkier chowder consistency:

  1. Add half the corn and stir for a few more minutes.
  2. Using a blender or food processor, blend about ¾ of the soup until creamy.
  3. Add to the remaining unblended veggies. Add milk and the rest of the corn. Stir and serve.

Instructions for creamy puree consistency:

  1. Add all the corn and stir for a few more minutes.
  2. Blend all of the soup in your blender or food processor until creamy.
  3. Add milk, stir, and serve.

Even More Super Medicinal Recipes

Be sure to check out your copy of Nourishing Broth for these and other medicinal recipes:

  • Liquid Gold (p. 184)—rich in turmeric
  • Polish Penicillin (p. 200)—an old-fashioned, comforting chicken soup
  • Slow Cooker Herbal Beef Shank Broth (p. 185)—with tons of medicinal herbs
  • Miracle Cock Chicken Soup (p. 217)—testimony that this soup will cure a cold ASAP
An afterthought from the Traditional Cook...
I think, ACHOO!, I have the flu.
I’m sneezing, and ACHOO! ACHOO!
I’m not sure what, ACHOO! to do.
You say, ACHOO! don’t sneeze on you?
ACHOO! Whoops. Now you’ve got it too.
—Kenn Nesbitt, “I Have the Flu”


To choose your organically grown and fresh ingredients wisely, use the following criteria:

  • chemical- and hormone-free meat
  • wild-caught fish
  • pasture-raised, organic eggs
  • whole, unrefined grains
  • virgin, unrefined, first-press organic oils
  • whole-food, unrefined sweeteners
  • pure, clean, spring water
  • sea salt
  • raw and/or cultured milk and cream products

Photo from iStock/jackethead

Note from Maria: I am a Certified Natural Health Professional, CNHP, not a medical doctor. I do not diagnose, prescribe for, treat, or claim to prevent, mitigate, or cure any human diseases. Please see your medical doctor prior to following any recommendations I make in my blogs or on my website.

Maria Atwood, CNHP

Maria Atwood is a semiretired Certified Natural Health Professional and Weston A. Price Chapter Leader in Colorado Springs, CO. Visit her website at Also check out Maria’s Cook Your Way to Wellness DVD (also available as an e-learning course) and be sure to follow her Tips from the Traditional Cook blog.
Products by Maria Atwood

2 thoughts on “Medicinal Bone Broth for Winter’s Woes

  1. Ann says:

    Traditional Chinese Medicine recommends that we don’t use Astragalus at the onset of a virus, as it can strengthen the virus as well. Hopefully by using the astragalus while healthy we can stave off viruses, but in the event that we do succumb, it’s recommended that we discontinue Astragalus until the viral stage has passed.

    What is your opinion on the issue of spicy foods (like the Fire Water) causing gut permeability? With those who have leaky gut, it’s usually recommended that we avoid spicy foods. Wouldn’t the Fire Water exacerbate that, worsening immune issues?

  2. Stephanie Anderson says:

    Ann, here is Maria’s reply to you:

    Hello Ann:

    Thanks for your comments! – (1) Please note on the website link below that what TCM teaches about astragalus is just a theory, and to prove that, I have used it successfully on many of my clients even in the midst of a bad cold and it did not make the cold worse. It is possible that each person may have a different reaction.

    (2) For those like yourself and other who do believe that to be fact, I also stated in the first paragraph of the blog that “We find ourselves unprepared to PREVENT the onset of a bad cold, implying that we use this and other powerful adaptogens to prevent and not necessarily cure the virus from taking hold.

    Colds and influenza. In TCM, astragalus is used as part of an herbal combination to prevent or treat colds, although TCM theory holds that, in some cases, it may make colds worse. Evidence in animal and laboratory tests suggests it may act against viruses like the ones that cause colds.

    As for the spicy foods causing any issue with the gut, I can only refer you to the many cultures that have been using hot and spicy foods for centuries with no ill effect. That being said, I did put a caution on the blog concerning that issue for some people for whom it may not be appropriate. Above all, I would hope that my readers will use common sense in using this and or any of my recommendations. It would very difficult for me to write an article that would be all things to all people and their varying needs and opinions :>) Here is the spicy link: (

    Be Well,
    Maria Atwood, CNHP

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