Du Zhong, Tian qi & Oxtail Stew

photo of oxtail stew

To keep bones strong and healthy, our bodies naturally break down old bone and replace it with new bone tissue. As we age, the process of replenishment can decrease, with more bone being broken down than is replaced. Osteoporosis can occur when the bone mass has decreased over time, making bones loose and brittle, and more easily prone to fracture. Although this occurs most often in women, particularly after menopause, men also need to be aware of the risk factors, which can include a lack of weight bearing exercise, smoking, and less than optimal stores of calcium and vitamin D over the course of their lives.

Within traditional Chinese medicine, there is the familiar axiom of “Kidneys Govern Bones” and the corresponding theory that bone loss is mainly caused by insufficient Kidney Qi, with symptoms such as weak low back or lower extremities, difficulty in standing for prolonged periods, darkness under the eyes and possibly loose teeth. Nourishing Kidney Qi with food and herbs, as well as consistent weight bearing exercise, is important to maintain bone health to assist in preventing osteoporosis.

This soup nourishes Yin, replenishes Yang, and strengthens muscles and bones. Oxtail, which is the common name for the bones and cartilage from a cow’s tail, derives its optimal nutritional benefit when it is slow-cooked or braised as a soup or stew. It contains calcium, iron, and selenium, as well as collagen, all of which support bone health.

Our recipe is enhanced with Du Zhong / Eucommia bark and Tian San Qi / Notoginseng root. The two herbs are placed into an herb bag along with the white peppercorns to cook along with the rest of the stew and then removed. Du Zhong is a Yang tonic that enters the Kidney and Liver meridians and is sweet, slightly spicy and astringent in nature. Du Zhong tonifies the Kidneys and Liver, supporting the smooth flow of Qi and Blood, thereby strengthening the sinews and bones. Tian San Qi is added to invigorate the Blood, primarily entering the Liver and Stomach meridians, adding additional sweetness and warmth to this delicious stew.

Du Zhong, Tian qi & Oxtail Soup

This soup nourishes Yin and replenishes Yang, strengthens muscles and bones, and strengthens the waist and knees.


  • 15 g Du Zhong/Eucommia ulmoides bark
  • 18 g Tian San Qi/Panax notoginseng root slices
  • 1 lb Oxtail (have your butcher cut them at the joints, then halve the larger pieces)
  • 1 Potato (large)
  • 2 Carrots
  • 1 Yellow onion
  • 2 stalks Celery
  • 2 slices Fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp white peppercorns
  • Salt to taste


  1. Rinse the herbs and put in cloth bag with the peppercorns.
  2. Wash the oxtail and blanch in boiling water for about 3 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Wash and peel the potato, cut into sixths.
  4. Fill a Dutch oven with 8 cups of water, bring to a boil and add the oxtail, ginger, and herb bag.
  5. Cook on medium-low heat for 2 hours.
  6. Add potatoes and cook for another 30 minutes.
  7. Remove the herb bag.
  8. Add salt to taste.


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