With COVID-19 upon us it is of no doubt you are well aware that creating and maintaining an immune function is paramount to sustaining great health in Chinese Medicine. Gut hygiene from a dietary approach means protecting the integrity of digestive function:

  • Avoid sugar, dairy and gluten – they are sticky foods that can promote phlegm and reduce immune function. Phlegm is a principal problem if you’ve contracted the virus. 
  • Avoid cold food and drinks – cold can put the digestive fire out – like throwing a wet log on a fire, food smoulders and composts giving you bloating, gas and poor bowel function. If you can’t digest your food, it may well produce phlegm.
  • Add seeds spices to your cooking – mustard seed, cumin, coriander, cardamon, cinnamon, star anise. They will resolve any phlegm problems, keeping the lungs clear and the immune system strong.
  • Eat simply, such as warm porridge for breakfast, meals with whole grains, fresh greens, root vegetables, seaweeds, mushrooms, nuts, seeds and protein and continual hydration. Support better digestion with herbal teas before meals e.g. steep in boiled water, 2-3 thin slices of fresh ginger, lemon/lime juice & peel & ½ teaspoon honey. Sip when cool.

The perfect immune enhancer is bone stock. It is stimulating, grounding and fortifying according to the annals of Chinese medicine. Bone stock is liquid gold imparting longevity from the nutrition gained out of marrow. Marrow promotes growth and development and stokes the digestive fire., to stimulate Qi and build blood. All aiding in restoring adrenal function. Consuming broth made from bones corresponds to the very nature of what a skeleton does – it provides support and is for anyone needing nurturing and nourishing and a lift in energy. A broth rewards every part of your body, from the gut to the brain, muscles and ligaments with easily absorbed amino acids to build protein, collagen for connective tissue and essential nutrients to support the gut, immunity and brain health.

According to the classical teachings of Chinese Medicine, stocks are not interchangeable.

  • Beef bone broth – strengthens constitutional health and is very anchoring
  • Chicken broth – stimulates immune response and is more warming
  • Fish bone broth – health tonic, resonates with the skeleton and reproduction

How to Prepare Beef Broth 


1.8kg stock bones

1 onion, halved

5cm knob of fresh ginger, unpeeled & halved

2 leeks, white parts only, roUghly chopped

3 large unpeeled carrots, sliced in thick rounds

3 litres water

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

OPTIONS: ½ teaspoon star anise and ½ teaspoon whole cloves OR ½ dozen dried mushrooms e.g. shitake

Ideally your bones should come from a good butcher shop. Bones high in connective tissue such as knuckles, knee joints, feet and marrow bones provide collagen-rich gelatin. Additional flavour can also come from meaty bones like oxtail, shank, and short ribs. Using bones from younger animals i.e. veal, means the highly prized cartilage is very valuable for bones.

Blanch the bones

  • Blanching the bones removes all the nasty bits can alter the taste of your broth. It will give you a divine clear rich stock.
  • Add bones to a large stockpot and cover with cold water.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes before draining and rinsing the bones with water.

Roasting the bones

  • Put the bones on a baking sheet in a 175°C oven for 20-30 minutes.
  • Add the onion & ginger to give a nice rich caramelisation.
  • The bones just need to be browned and you should notice some juice starting to collect on the bottom of the pan.
  • Allow them to cool slightly before you add them to your cooking pot.

Creating the broth

  • Meanwhile, get your vegetables ready and add them to a stock pot with a tiny splash of olive oil and couple pinches of salt on a medium to low heat.
  • When the bones are ready, add them into the stock pot, cover with water and bring to a simmer.
  • Stock must not be allowed to reach a rolling boil. A full boil will turn stock bitter and ruin its clarity. Stock should have a slow-rising bubble every few seconds, no more so use a low heat setting.
  • Add the apple cider vinegar and any options you wish to add.
  • Cook on steady, low heat continually for 1-2 days.
  • Strain the stock and put into mason jars to cool in the refrigerator overnight.

How to use

  • Warm on the stovetop and drink 1-2 glasses per day
  • Add to soups, stews, congees, sauces – anything for a quick quick of nutrition

For a Vegetarian Broth 


3 litres filtered water
1 tablespoon coconut, avocado or olive oil

1 red onion, quartered (with skins)

1 garlic bulb, smashed

1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, roughly chopped (with skin)

1 cup greens, kale or spinach

3-4 cups chopped mixed vegetables tops and peelings

½ cup dried shiitake mushrooms

30g dried wakame seaweed

1 tablespoon peppercorns

2 tablespoon ground turmeric

1 tablespoon coconut aminos, (see notes)

Bunch of fresh coriander (or other herb of choice)

OPTIONAL ¼ cup nutritional yeast

Add everything to a large pot. Bring to a boil then simmer, with the lid on, for about an hour.

Once everything has been cooked down, strain the liquid into a large bowl.

Serve immediately with some fresh herbs, for decoration or cool for later. It also freezes well.

For a Chicken Broth 


1.2kg whole chicken or parts, definitely organic or free range – chicken feet contain awesome amounts of gelatine and will add a super richness to your broth

1 onion, peeled & halved

5cm knob of fresh ginger, peeled & halved

2 while garlic cloves, peeled

2 leeks, white parts only, roughly chopped

2 large unpeeled carrots, sliced in thick rounds

3 litres water

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Rinse the chicken under cold running water.

Add to a stockpot with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, skimming as you go.

Add the vegetables and cook for a further 3 hours, uncovered.

Strain your broth and season with salt and pepper.

Cool in the fridge and keep for 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.


Written – Dr Nicole Pawley