In the 19th century, thousands of Chinese immigrated to the U.S. to work as indentured laborers on the Transcontinental Railroad. After the long days, many of them would rub their joints with oil derived from the Chinese Water Snake. They claimed that it eased pain and reduced inflammation.
Not long after, hucksters around the country were selling bottles of Snake Oil, claiming that it cured all manner of ills. The bottles were filled with little more than common mineral oil.
In a related story, bone broth is now a thing.
Recently, fad enthusiasts, devotees to a stone age-themed diet, and garden-variety idiots have all touted bone broth as a magical, medicinal elixir. It has been hailed as a cure for everything from an aging appearance to eroding bones.
Bone broth is just a new name for stock. Humans have been making and ingesting stock since we began eating things.
Stock does not cure anything. It contains collagen and nutrients, but so do a ton of other foods. Proponents of bone broth seem to think that drinking a collagen rich liquid means that it flows directly into your deteriorating knees. That’s not how the body works. Digestion breaks nutrients down into amino acids, aka the building blocks of protein. These amino acids are then used by our bodies wherever they are needed.
If you really want to help your skin and joints, eat leafy green vegetables. They are a better source for the building blocks of collagen, and also contain nutrients not found in broth.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t eat stock. You should. In fact, you should buy cuts of meat with bones in them (like whole chickens), you should use these bones to make stock, and you should use this stock to cook your meals.
You can even call it bone broth and drink it out of a coffee cup, if you want. Just don’t go around saying that it will make you sleep better at night, smooth out your wrinkled face, or help you flip a truck tire faster at crossfit.
Stock can be delicious, but it’s not a medicine. If you really want a cure for an aging appearance, get the botulism toxin injected into your face. It’s much more effective.