What Is Bone Marrow Soup and Why Is It Good for You?
Did you know that bone marrow and bone marrow soup (i.e. bone broth) are considered a delicacy in many different ethnic dishes?
Or, that they’ve been considered a superfood staple in many traditional cultures and societies?
Or, that bone marrow is, in all honestly, an incredibly nutrient-rich food in and of itself?!
In today’s society, the above information, which was once passed down from generation to generation, has sadly gotten lost in the bustle of modern living. Nowadays, we Americans tend to view bone marrow as an animal protein byproduct. However, the paleo, primal and ancestral health movements have helped traditional foods, such as bone marrow soup, resurface in a big way.
Check Out These Three Stats on Bone Marrow & Bone Marrow Soup!
We’re not entirely sure how we learned about this delicious, nourishing paste, but there’s clearly something special about it which is most certainly why, in the animal kingdom, a predator instinctively goes straight for it once it’s prey has been captured. So maybe we learned about it by observing other animals?
Either way, here’s how we humans have been using it for ages:
- In haute cuisine, marrow shows up as a garnish for beef tenderloin (which is served with a fancy reduction sauce) and is often used to add depth and flavor to stocks and soups.
- Native Americans and Mongolians were known to eat raw marrow, which can be extracted in one long, thin barrel-shaped piece with a well-placed tap on a femur bone.
- Scandinavian parents serve up bone marrow soup to their children in the winter, which is believed to build up serious strength.
Are your eyebrows arching in disbelief yet?
That’s ok. The first time I learned about all of this I felt the same way. I had no interest in eating bones much less their marrow. But, since I’ve learned and experienced just how much it can optimize my hair, skin and nail growth + how it keeps my overall gut health in tip top shape, I’ve become both an avid believer and daily consumer.
Now, I’ve jumped a little ahead of myself on this one (because I’m just so darn excited to share!), so let’s backpedal for a minute and cover some bone marrow basics.
What is Bone Marrow?
From a technical standpoint, bone marrow is a mostly fatty (the health promoting kind we like!), slightly proteinaceous, mineral-rich, and gelatinous substance which usually gets served up like this –
Bone marrow has gotten a bad wrap due to its high-fat content, but if you’re down with ancestral health, then you’re probably ok with consuming copious amounts of healthy fats already. However, if you’re new to idea that fat is healthy and freaked out when you read that bone marrow is basically made entirely of fat, know that the fat which composes bone marrow serves a very serious function as is outlined in the quote below:
“A University of Michigan-led study shows that the fat tissue in bone marrow is a significant source of the hormone adiponectin, which helps maintain insulin sensitivity, break down fat, and has been linked to decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity-associated cancers. The findings appear in today’s online-ahead-of-print issue of Cell Metabolism.” U of M Health
Bone marrow soup is also chock-full of the following minerals:
- Plus, other trace minerals
Ya see, this is why we don’t want to throw away the bones or the marrow!
The parts of bone marrow that aren’t made of fat cells (or adipocytes) are made of important cells that form + reabsorb both bone and connective tissues. These cells are called:
- Osteoblasts (bone cell formers)
- Fibroblasts (connective tissue formers)
- Osteoclasts (bone re-absorbers)
Its major duty? To manufacturer both red and white blood cells.
Where Does It Lurk?
Well, it’s found inside the bones of animals. Beef marrow is the standard, but it’s of course, found in the bones of other animals as well (think mammals here…birds, fish…you catch my drift).
Carefully crack open an animal’s shank, humerus or femur and you’ll find the marrow right inside. When you extract it, which is usually either via the dedicated marrow spoon or good ol’ fashioned tongue probing + suction + slurpage, it comes out in one long, off-white colored, somewhat-cylindrical piece.
Bone Marrow Benefits & Diseases
As you’ve already read, bone marrow is incredibly important and fulfills many roles. In fact, it’s so important that we’ve even come up with a medical procedure, bone marrow transplants, to treat life-threatening diseases like Leukemia and Lymphoma by replacing damaged bone marrow with healthy bone marrow. For some of these diseases, a bone marrow transplant is literally the only cure! In fact, a
In fact, a well-known Swedish oncologist by the name of Dr. Brohult, actually used bone marrow as part of her treatment with Leukemia patients believing that healthy animal bone marrow would help restore human bone marrow function. That philosophy comes from The Doctrine of Signatures, an ancient European philosophy that states this:
Foods that resemble a certain part of the body can be used to treat diseases and ailments for that same part of the body i.e. eating liver for liver health or eating bone marrow for bone marrow health.
I think this quote by Nourished Kitchen sums up Dr. Brohult’s line of thinking behind the intuitive actions she took in the name of healing her patients really well:
“In the Chinese paradigm, bone marrow is considered the deepest tissue of the body and contains the essence of the being. Itʼs an interesting correlation to consider that modern science has shown that within bone marrow are high concentrations of stem cells, the very organizing influences, and genetic material, for the being. It is these essential nutrients that help our bodies continue to build healthy, vital constitutions and repair cellular damage.”
It’s quite a remarkable story which you can read more about here.
“Her hope—and desperation—paid off. Although the results were inconsistent, some of her patients quickly experienced remarkable improvements, including a normalization of white blood cell counts and a striking return of energy.” Life Extension
Since that experiment, Dr. Brohult, her husband and her team continued to research alkylglycerols (AKGs), the active ingredient (which actually turned out to be a group of compounds) in calve’s marrow that normalized white blood cell production. They eventually found the most abundant source came from the Greenland shark.
In Addition to It Being Used In Cancer Treatments
Bone marrow is also known to:
- Improve immune function
- Heal the gut lining
- Maintain bone health
- Speed up injury recovery
- Help regulate insulin
It’s probably due to the above reasons that Dr. Weston A. Price reported that the indigenous peoples living in the Rocky Mountains of Northern Canada put such great stock in consuming animal organ meats, especially bone marrow:
“I found the Indians putting great emphasis upon the eating of the organs of the animals, including the wall of parts of the digestive tract. Much of the muscle meat of the animals was fed to the dogs…The skeletal remains…have been cracked up to obtain as much as possible of the marrow and nutritive qualities of the bones. These Indians obtain their fat-soluble vitamins and also most of their minerals from the organs of the animals. An important part of the nutrition of the children consisted in various preparations of bone marrow, both as a substitute for milk and as a special dietary ration.” Nutrition and Physical Degeneration
How to Find It?
Bone marrow is positively delicious. It’s got a gelatinous, mild, creamy, and rich flavor, which as your read above, is the reason it’s used in various sauces, soups, and stew recipes.
If you want to take a stab at making your own bone marrow soup, you’ll first need to gather the ingredient – bones.
Animal providence is everything when it comes to making bone marrow soup so you must make sure that the bones come from the following sources:
- 100% grass-fed, organic beef bones (which are our bones of choice!)
- 100% grass-fed, organic buffalo bones
- 100% grass-fed, organic lamb or goat bones
- 100% pasture-raised, organic chicken or turkey bones
- Wild fish bones (from non-oily fish sole, turbot, rockfish or, snapper, otherwise it may stink up your house!)
The best place to find these bones is at the farmer’s market. Occasionally, I can find them at whole foods. If you can’t find them at your local farmer’s market or health food store, check out Eat Wild to pinpoint the nearest place to source them.
Aside from that, you poor an acid medium + water over the top and simmer…for a very long time. For specific directions, go here. It’s not hard to make, but I’m telling you from experience (and I LOVE to cook) that it can be a royal pain in the ass.
So…if you’d rather not risk burning down the house because you forgot to refill the crockpot for the tenth time (I’ve totally done this!), we’ve got you covered. You can order our top-notch version, right here.
Delfina is the spirited health coach, recipe developer and alternative health blogger behind Code to Wellness. She believes that REAL FOOD should taste good + do good for the body so that overcoming the struggle with weight, sugar cravings, and hormone imbalance is successful and sustainable.