What’s the Deal With Bone Broth and Eczema?
Perhaps you’ve heard or read about bone broth and its many health benefits. Lately, articles have been popping up everywhere; not only in the natural, holistic world but stories have been finding their way into mainstream media as well.
So, what’s the deal?
Well, bone broth has been around for generations, literally, as a rooted staple in many cultural diets. It’s been an important source of nutrition and supported the healing of everything from leaky gut to joint pain.
But for those of us who deal with eczema, bone broth can be an important tool in our healing process and here’s why…
Bone broth is extremely beneficial for:
- Healing your skin
- Speeding up the healing of scars and eczema wounds
- Protection against aging and wrinkling
- Improving your overall immune system
- Promoting healthy sleep, energy and supporting a healthy mood.
- Healing Leaky gut syndrome
- Overcoming food intolerances and allergies
- Improving digestion
Plus – homemade bone broth also has:
- 19+ essential and non-essential amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) (1)
- Collagen/gelatin – which heals the skin, rebuilds skin cells, helps scarring, and helps form connective tissue
- Nutrients that support eczema, digestive functions, immunity and brain health
Bone broth is incredibly beneficial for every part of your body – not just for your skin, but for your gut, brain, muscles and ligaments!
There’s a reason why chicken soup is known to be healing to ingest when you’re sick – and it’s not just a myth. Certain people with eczema have also seen improvements after drinking bone broth.
What is it?
When animal bones from beef, chicken or fish are slow cooked for a long time, various minerals and other properties leach out into a liquid or broth. Grass-fed organic animals provide the best and most nutritious broth, free from much of the toxins such as antibiotics and pesticides that can be found in regular meats, fish and poultry. Adding vegetables and seasonings serve as an additional boost.
This slow simmering causes the bones and ligaments to release healing nutrients like collagen, proline, glycine and glutamine that have the profound ability to transform your health.
What’s In It?
You would be amazed at just what is in this simple food. For skin, this could very well be the most important and supportive element, especially for the eczema- prone.
Our skin is the largest organ of the body. Not only does it hold in and support all the other organs, but also it acts as a protective barrier to the outside world. It can take a lot of abuse so it needs nourishment and support. We can produce many of the nutrients we need to keep our skin healthy but when it becomes compromised, as in eczema, the skin integrity is breached leaving it vulnerable to bacteria and other damaging effects.
Supportive nutrition, like bone broth, can boost healing properties and nourish the skin with what it needs to stay healthy, smooth and strong.
Here are some of the important elements in bone broth that make it such a ‘super food’ when it comes to eczema:
This is an amino acid or essential building block if you will, that promotes wound healing and helps maintain a strong immune and healthy hormone function. It’s also an anti-inflammatory to inhibit viral infections. Research is also proving that it can boost the immune system and heal disorders like allergies, asthma and arthritis.
The marrow of the bone produces gelatin, which is key for the healthy growth of skin, hair and nails. For such an ordinary element, it has extraordinary properties including an anti-inflammatory effect, important for gut healing and eczema.
Gelatin absorbs and holds liquid, like digestive juices, to help move nutrients through the digestive tract easily. It’s also a source of dietary collagen, much more easily absorbed and important for skin health and integrity: the glue that holds the skin together.
(Note that although the topical collagen in skin products is not actually able to penetrate the skin, whereas collagen ingested internally is how we can get this protein into our bodies).
My go-to gelatin product of choice is this one.
The French were the leaders in gelatin research. They found it to be useful in the treatment of a long list of diseases including peptic ulcers, tuberculosis, diabetes, muscle diseases, infectious diseases, and cancer.
Babies even had fewer digestive problems when gelatin was added to their milk.
Since gelatin is a source of dietary collagen, here are other studies that have demonstrate the benefits of it:
- Supports healthy digestive function: because the amino acids in collagen build the tissue in the colon and entire GI tract, supplementing with collagen can support healthy digestive function. (2)
- Maintains healthy skin: Double-blind, placebo-controlled studies found that 2.5–5 grams of collagen hydrolysate used among women aged 35–55 once daily for 8 weeks supported skin elasticity, skin moisture, trans-epidermal water loss (dryness) and skin roughness. After the 4 weeks, those using collagen showed a significant improvement compared to those who used a placebo (with regard to skin moisture and skin evaporation). They also noticed a decrease in signs of accelerated aging, with little to no side effects. (3)
Collagen helps form elastin and other compounds that help maintain the skin’s youthful texture and appearance. It also helps reduce wrinkles, puffiness and various other signs of aging.
- Powerful detoxification agent: While the body regularly detoxifies itself from heavy metals and other toxic exposures, people who have eczema are often not detoxifying properly. Bone broth is considered a powerful detoxifier since it helps the digestive system expel waste and promotes the liver’s ability to remove toxins, maintain tissue integrity, and improves the body’s use of antioxidants.
- Some of the ways in which bone broth boosts detoxification is by supplying sulfur (especially when you add veggies, garlic and herbs to your broth) and glutathione, which helps lowers oxidative stress.
- Stanford University’s Medicine Preventative Research Center has found that glutathione helps the elimination of heavy metals, such as mercury and lead.
Studies show that gelatin is also incredibly beneficial for:
- Restoring strength of the gut lining and fighting food sensitivities
- Helping with the growth of probiotics (good bacteria) in the gut
- Supporting healthy inflammation levels in the digestive tract
As you know, gut health and digestion have an incredibly strong link to eczema.
Another amino acid that assists in synthesizing collagen and producing glutathione, which is a strong antioxidant. It works along with the immune system to help prevent the body from attacking itself as it does in the mechanisms of eczema.
It also plays a role in synthesizing RNA and DNA as well as many proteins. Just like arginine and gelatin, glycine supports over all skin health and wound healing while working to tamp down inflammation.
Glycine also helps calm the body (especially if you suffer from sleep troubles) and it also helps lower the inflammation, especially in cases like Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).
Perhaps not as glamorous as the other elements but just as important to maintaining healthy skin. As a part of bone broth they are easily absorbed and help to support the body by reducing inflammation.
Nutrition researchers Sally Fallon and Kaayla Daniel of the Weston A. Price Foundation state that bone broths contain minerals in forms that your body can readily absorb: calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and other trace minerals.
A note of caution about store-bought bone broth:
Most store-bought “stock and “broth” today aren’t “real” and don’t contain the same quality of nutrients that help the body heal. Many companies resort to using lab-produced meat flavors in bouillon cubes, soup and sauce mixes.
If you want enjoy the real benefits of bone broth, it’s best to make it yourself at home (or you can buy them at some health food stores, but they can be pricey!).
Homemade bone broth
When you make it yourself, bone broth can be made much cheaper than purchasing it from somewhere else (in fact – you can even several bowls of bone broth that will last you a few days for under $10!).
Which bones should you use for your eczema-healing broth?
You can make bone broth using whole organic chicken, whole fish or fish bones (including the fish head), pork or beef bones. Each will render a different flavor. Some suggest starting with chicken only because it has the mildest flavor. Beef tends to be more overpowering. Wild animals like deer and elk can also be used; however, they contain less fat so the broth would be leaner.
I recommend you to choose meats from organic raised and free range animals, as they tend to be the cleanest sources of meat. You can also save your leftover meat bones and save it in the freezer, until it’s time to make broth (instead of throwing it away).
This includes chicken carcasses, beef bones, fish bones, or even pork bones.
Below are 2 examples of chicken and beef broth that you can make, courtesy of The Weston Price Foundation (4):
- 1 whole free-range chicken or 2 to 3 pounds of bony chicken parts, such as necks, backs, breastbones and wings* gizzards from one chicken (optional)
- 2-4 chicken feet (optional)
- 4 quarts cold filtered water
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
- 1 bunch parsley
*Note: Farm-raised, pasture & free-range chickens give the best results. Many battery-raised chickens will not produce stock that gels.
- about 4 pounds beef bones (or beef marrow and knuckle bones)
- 1 calves foot, cut into pieces (optional)
- 3 pounds meaty rib or neck bones
- 4 or more quarts cold filtered water
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 3 onions, coarsely chopped
- 3 carrots, coarsely chopped
- 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
- several sprigs of fresh thyme, tied together
- 1 teaspoon dried green peppercorns, crushed
- l bunch parsley
Place bones in a large pot (or slow cooker) with a lot of water and some sea salt. (Toss in chopped onions, carrots, celery and a garlic). You can also add a couple of bay leaves, sage or herbs and spices that go well with it. Add 1-2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar. This won’t affect the taste, but it will help pull nutrients out of the bones.
Bring the broth to a boil and then turn it down to a simmer, adding more water when necessary. For a good broth, I recommend at least 12-24 hours if possible (ideally 24 hours for chicken broth and 48 hours for beef broth). (Fish bone broth only takes about two or three hours.) A low and slow cook time is necessary in order to fully extract the nutrients in and around the bone. The softer the bones are when you're done, the more nutrient-packed your broth will be. Cool the broth and strain it using a strainer. Place your broth in glass storage bowls or mason jars. Store some of it in your fridge to use over the next three days or so, and keep the rest in serving-sized bowls in your freezer. As your broth cools in the fridge, the fat will rise to the top.
Skim off this fat and use it for cooking if you'd like. When your broth cools, it will get "wiggly" and gelatinous. That’s exactly what you want to see, because it means it's full of wrinkle-busting, fat-burning collagen!
Once the broth is done, all of the solids can either be discarded, or it can be eaten for additional nutrients (they should be soft enough that the bones break apart very easily when chewed).
Can your eczema get worse after drinking bone broth?
While bone broth can be an extremely healing food for eczema, it can also potentially cause flare ups for people.
Why is this?
If your body is sensitive to histamines, you may react to the high histamine levels in bone broth.
Alternatively, if you don’t tolerate meat well (I know I didn’t during my severe flare ups), you may need to wait until your body heals more until you can tolerate it.
Another possible contraindication is if your body has issues with fat absorption – which is the case for many who suffer from eczema. Since bone broth does contain gelatin and fat content, some people who suffer from fat malabsorption can be affected by this. You can try drinking a small amount first and monitor any symptoms that you may have.
If you can’t take the bone broth, you can use l-glutamine, which can also be used along with bone broth. The best way to take it is to get l-glutamine powder and take 1 teaspoon three times daily mixed with food.
So there you have it. Beauty in a broth. There are so many positives about this simple, nutritional food for the body as a whole and for the skin in particular. It can be the easy go-to product in your freezer to use alone or form the base for soups, stews or stir-fry. And it’s so easy to make. Toss the bones in a crock-pot with some chopped vegetables and let the magic simmer away!
- (1) https://wellnessmama.com/23777/bone-broth-benefits/
- (2) https://draxe.com/the-healing-power-of-bone-broth-for-digestion-arthritis-and-cellulite/
- (3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23949208
- (4) https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/food-features/broth-is-beautiful/
Click on the eBooks below to learn more about healing your skin:
- The Elimination Diet: A Guide to Conquer Eczema & Food Sensitivities
- Healing Eczema: Why Dieting Is Not Enough
- The Power of Thoughts: How Mindset Shifts Can Help Eliminate Eczema
- My Detailed Eczema Healing Treatment Plan
Click here for more eczema resources or visit my list of recommended products for eczema!
I’d like to thank Jenn Keay for writing this special guest post on how bone broth can help heal your gut and your skin.
Jenn Keay BFA CNP
Jenn is a graduate of The Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Toronto and a Certified Nutritional Practitioner. Jenn also holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) degree from The University of Toronto. As a child she lived with chronic digestive issues, allergies and eczema. Finally a series of cascading events found her on the brink of a total health breakdown, and she knew she had to move in another direction to literally, save her life. Jenn dove deep into alternative therapies and education, researching, studying and absorbing everything she could find on healing the mind and body through healthy nutrition. She now has the tools and the knowledge to help others who are seeking the knowledge to change and improve their own lives. You can find her through her own practice, Work of Heart Nutrition in Oakville Ontario at www.workofheartnutrition.com
Disclaimer: All the information found on this website should be used for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace proper medical advice. Always consult a qualified health care provider before embarking on a health or supplement plan.
How many cups of bone broth do you recommend per day to help heal eczema?
Jenn Keay says
Hi Caitlin, a good rule of thumb is this: drink a cup of bone broth before every meal. It helps to heal the gut and build collagen, both of which are essential for healing the skin. Everyone’s eczema is different so it’s hard to say how long it may take. However, you should start to see some improvement after about 2 months.