In early 2002, I was marching along very purposefully to teach a
class on healthy bones. It was winter, and still dark early. I was
carrying some papers. While crossing the street, there was one of
those metal plates covering a hole. My right foot struck the edge of
the plate, and I lost my balance. Trying to recover, I sent my left
foot forward which ALSO struck the plate – so both my feet were
stuck – and with the momentum of my fast walk I pitched forward like
a falling tree. My right hand was free, so I extended it to break
the fall, which it did very well. When I sat up after the fall, my
right hand looked severely misshapen. I pulled at it a little to
straighten it out, figuring that maybe while it was warm it would go
back in shape, but no such luck – it still looked wrong.
What to do? I had a dozen people waiting for the class and my
habit is to show up when I am expected. I went to the place where I
was to teach, had some miso soup to recover from the shock, wrapped
my right hand in a scarf hanging from my neck, and taught the class
writing on the board with my left hand. We all had a good laugh at
the irony. After the class I went to the hospital, where a serious
young doctor re-set my hand as all the bones were sprained out of
place through and through; I had also broken my wrist, what is
called a “Colles fracture” – very common for older women! So a cast
was in order. My fingers were hanging out, and over the next few
weeks they turned first a deep purple, then green, then yellow, and
eventually went back to normal color. The hand took a while, but the
bone healed in 5 weeks, which is pretty quick.
So this is the regime I followed, and I would recommend this to
anyone who hurts their bones for quicker and more thorough healing.
1. Lots of green vegetables every day, cooked and raw, in soups and
2. Cooking everything with a base of bone stock, mostly chicken,
but also concentrated beef bone stock when possible.
3. Eating bones whenever possible: sardines with bones, small
whole fish baked till very crisp, crispy whole chicken wings (you
can eat the whole tip), chewing on chicken bones (organic always
preferred). Also, dishes with bone marrow such as ossobucco.
4. Normally I don’t use dairy as a regular food, but I decided to
go with about ˝ cup goat yogurt daily, with a couple of teaspoons of
regular cod liver oil mixed in for the Vitamin D. I know it sounds
odd, but it tasted great to me. As I believe that the body can tell
by the taste if a food is good for it, that was my sign to keep
5. Homeopathic medicine: arnica 3-4 times a day until I stopped
hurting (about a week), then once daily for a couple of weeks more.
6. Foods to avoid completely: anything with added sugars of any
kind, alcohol (I don’t have more than a glass of wine per week, but
I eliminated that), caffeine including green tea and chocolate, and
of course any processed, boxed or packaged foods that I normally
don’t eat anyway.
I came up with some great recipes for my book, now called “The
Whole Food Guide to Strong Bones” (New Harbinger). The following is
one of my favorites, and I highly recommend it for any one with bone
issues, pain, osteoporosis or osteopenia, fractures, or similar
complaints. This stew is a variation on a classic Japanese carp soup
called Koi Ko Ku, which is traditionally recommended as a tonic and
blood strengthener for women who have given birth. Because of the
long cooking, the fish bones are completely softened and become
edible and quite delicious. It is a superior source of natural
calcium and other essential bone minerals: in fact, according to the
laboratory testing I commissioned, one cup provides over 800 mg of
calcium and 50 mg magnesium as well as about 50% of the vitamin D
requirement for a 150 lb woman. The best part is that it is in the
form of food, which the body can recognize more easily than pills.
Offer this recipe to anyone who complains of pain in the bones – it
may be surprisingly helpful..
5-Hour Whole Fish Stew
1 whole fish (e.g., pike, red snapper, carp), about 1 ˝ to 2 lb
4 slices ginger
3 small carrots (about ˝ lb), scrubbed and roll-cut
1 medium onion, medium dice
1 cup white wine or 1/4 cup brown rice vinegar
6 cups water
1/4 cup mellow barley miso
1. Buy only the very freshest fish. Ask that it be cleaned,
leaving on the scales, head and tail, and cut it into 3-4 pieces.
Rinse well before cooking.
2. To prep ginger: cut 4 thin slices off a knob, lay them on top
of each other, then slice them lengthwise into thin slivers.
3. In a 6-quart pressure cooker, place the fish, onion, carrot,
ginger, wine, water, and miso. Bring up to pressure, reduce heat to
low, and simmer very gently for 5 hours. Allow to sit until pressure
is down, open pot, and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon to
harmonize all the flavors. Check the proportion of liquid: if you
like it more soupy, add some water. Find a bone and taste test; it
should be easily chewed. If a little too hard, pressure cook for
another hour. Makes 6-8 servings. This soup/stew can be kept in the
refrigerator for 4 days. I do not recommend freezing because it
kills the taste and makes it flat. Re-boil each time before serving,
adding a little stock or water if necessary.