Adaptogenic Broth

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Adaptogenic Broth

When food becomes medicine, and vice versa.


We all deal with stress every day, and every day our bodies strive to adapt and stay balanced and healthy. Adaptogens are rejuvenating herbs that help the body to "adapt" to the many influences it encounters. In brief, they may:

  • increase stamina
  • counter the normal effects of ageing
  • help in the prevention and treatment of chronic fatigue and other stress related disorders
  • increase the body's resistance to physical, biological, emotional, and environmental stressors
  • restore the balance of endocrine hormones
  • modulate the immune system

Most adaptogens are regarded as tonic herbs, and fall midway between being classed as foods or medicines. They have been used for hundreds of years in the East, particularly China, Russia, and India, and have come to be recognised and used in the West over the last 50 or so years. We have put together 3 key adaptogens, all of which are from the East, and have been using them extensively to help people regain or maintain a sense of optimal wellness. A top way of extracting the maximum benefit from these herbs is to cook them long and slow in a broth. We've got two recipes here - one for carnivores and one for veggies.

Carnivore Version


  • 50g Adaptogenic Broth Herbs
  • 1.5kg beef or lamb bones
  • Tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 large or 2 small onions, quartered, unpeeled
  • 1 scrubbed, unpeeled carrot, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed, unpeeled
  • 6 sprigs of fresh, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Enough water to cover - should be about 2 litres


Place the whole lot in a large pot or, preferably, a slow cooker. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer or slow cook on 'low' for minimum 12 hours. You could also cook in a covered casserole dish in an oven warm enough to maintain the liquid at a slow simmer. After 12 hours strain off the liquid and store in a tall cylindical container. By the time it gets cold the fats will have risen to the top and solidified, and can simply be removed and saved for use in cooking. The remaining stock will be jellified, and can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Drink one or two mug fulls per day, adding salt and other seasonings to taste. You can also use this as a the basic stock for stews to be consumed during the rest of the week. You should end up in total with a couple of litres of delicious adaptogenic broth. Drinking a mug of this piping hot feels like the elixir of life itself.

Vegetarian Version


  • 50g Adaptogenic Broth Herbs
  • 2 Celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 leeks roughly chopped
  • 1 or 2 onions, unpeeled, quartered
  • 2 carrots scrubbed and unpeeled, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled, crushed
  • 6 sprigs of fresh, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • one teaspoon black peppercorns
  • two and a half litres cold water


Slow cook for 12 hours, using any of the methods mentioned in the omnivore's version above, spooning off any scum at points along the way. Leave to cool slightly before straining through a sieve. The stock will keep in the fridge for up to one week, or can be frozen. Although if you drink at least one mug per day you won't have enough for freezing as well. Add salt and other seasonings to taste.

For further information about adaptogens American herbalist, David Winston, has written a great book Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief.

The Herbs



Astragalus membranaceus

A Chinese root herb used to help strengthen the immune system and as a general tonic for fatigue and low appetite.

Key Properties

  • protects against colds and flu, bronchitis and pneumonia
  • used as an adjunct in cancer therapy, helping to prevent immunosuppression caused by chemotherapy, and has tumour-inhibiting activity
  • helps to improve cardiac blood flow



Withania somnifera

An ayurvedic herb, where it has a reputation for stimulating the mind, enhancing vigour and sexual prowess as well as for its recuperative powers.We use the dried root.

Key Properties

  • Calming adaptogen
  • enhances endocrine function, particularly thyroid
  • for anxiety, fatigue, cloudy thinking, stress-induced insomnia and nervous exhaustion
  • for chronic pain, eg. in fibromyalgia, neck and back ache.


Siberian Ginseng

Eleutherococcus senticosus

Otherwise know as Siberian Ginseng, is one of the original adaptogens studied by Russian scientists for helping improve performance when under stress. We also use the root of this one.

Key Properties

  • helps to relieve the physical symptoms of stress
  • improves endurance and stamina
  • aids concentration
  • mildly uplifting