Now more than ever, preventative health and supporting immune wellness is a major focus globally. While there are several nutritional supplements and lifestyle changes that can support immune health, there are many ingredients in your kitchen that can be of benefit.
Homemade herbal remedies and health tonics have been used for centuries to treat health conditions, prevent illness, and boost vitality. In the late 1970s, herbalist Rosemary Gladstar brought the health tonic fire cider to the mainstream for defense against colds and flu and for overall immune support.
What is Fire Cider?
Fire cider is a powerhouse remedy that is used to stimulate the body’s natural immune defenses. It consists of a base of apple cider vinegar infused with warming herbs, including garlic, ginger, onion, horseradish, and cayenne.
This wellness tonic is typically used to prevent and address the common cold, flu, sore throat, cough, sinus congestion, and digestive upset. It is especially helpful during the cold winter months but supportive throughout the year.
Benefits of Fire Cider
The ingredients of fire cider work together to reinvigorate and restore the body as follows:
1. Support immune function
Fire cider works to strengthen the immune system by stimulating the body’s natural defenses to prevent and address illness and infection.
Antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal effects of fire cider make it a great choice for addressing a variety of infections, including the common cold and flu viruses.
Fire cider helps to reduce inflammation and regulate the immune system. It protects the body from cellular damage and assists with pain relief.
4. Improve circulation
Fire cider contains warming compounds that help to increase blood flow and strengthen the cardiovascular system improving energy and vitality.
The herbs in fire cider are rich in antioxidant compounds that provide the ultimate defense system against oxidative stress and free radical damage to tissues.
6. Digestive aid
Fire cider is beneficial for easing digestive symptoms, including nausea, bloating, and indigestion. It contains probiotics and can be helpful when taken before meals to stimulate the production of digestive enzymes.
Healing Properties of Ingredients
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar, especially the organic and unfiltered variety, is rich in beneficial enzymes and probiotics, making it a great digestive aid for upset stomach, nausea, bloating, and indigestion.
It has antimicrobial effects against E. coli, Staph aureus, and Candida albicans (1). Used in fire cider, it helps to extract the medicinal compounds of the herbs while also acting as a preservative.
Garlic has powerful broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties, including antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal effects. It brings balance to the immune system and supports immune enhancement. It has been shown to be beneficial at preventing cold and flu symptoms, as well as decreasing the frequency of colds (3).
[Read: Health Benefits of Garlic]
Onion is nutrient-dense, being a source of potassium and B vitamins, including B6 and B9. It is high in vitamin C and other antioxidants, including quercetin, which helps to reduce inflammation, regulate the immune system, and support tissue repair (4 ).
Additionally, quercetin provides allergy symptom relief by inhibiting histamine release (5). Its antimicrobial effects make it beneficial for prevention and recovery from colds and flu.
Ginger is a warming herb that acts as a vasodilator to improve circulation. Ginger works as an expectorant to thin and remove mucous and congestion from the lungs, making it great for easing the common cold and flu-like symptoms.
Its main bioactive compound, gingerol, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help in reducing nausea and indigestion (6).
Horseradish is great for alleviating sinus congestion and respiratory conditions, including the common cold, flu, and bronchitis. It helps to reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system (7). Being rich in antioxidants, it protects the body from cellular damage caused by free radicals.
Cayenne brings the “fire” in fire cider. It has warming qualities that raise the body’s internal temperature and boost metabolism. It stimulates circulation, helping to increase blood flow and provide congestion relief making it especially useful at the onset of cold symptoms.
The bioactive compound capsaicin provides pain relief by reducing the amount of substance P known to trigger pain signals (8).
Honey has potent antimicrobial properties, including antibacterial and antiviral, making it highly effective for upper respiratory infections (9). Its anti-inflammatory effects help to soothe dry and inflamed tissue.
It is highly nutritious, being rich in vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants, including polyphenols and flavonoids (10). Honey helps to sweeten fire cider by buffering the intensity of its spiciness, making it more balanced and palatable.
Fire Cider Recipe
- 1/2 cup chopped onions
- 1/4 cup chopped garlic
- 1/4 cup grated ginger
- 1/4 cup grated horseradish
- Pinch of cayenne
- Apple cider vinegar
- Honey to taste
- Optional: dried or fresh turmeric, cinnamon stick, lemon/orange slices, echinacea, elderberry
- Combine onions, garlic, ginger, horseradish, and cayenne into a glass jar.
- Add apple cider vinegar to cover ingredients by 1-2 inches.
- Cover with lid and let sit in a warm place for 3-4 weeks. Shake the jar daily.
- Strain out ingredients and discard. Mix infused apple cider vinegar with honey to taste.
- Bottle the cider and refrigerate.
Ways to Use Fire Cide
- General immune support: Take 1-2 Tbsp throughout the fall/winter months. Taken straight or diluted with warm water and honey to taste.
- Acute cold or flu symptoms: Take 1-2 Tbsp at the first sign of symptoms and repeat dose every 3-4 hours until symptoms subside.
- Wellness shot: 1oz shot glass to drink straight up. Can add extra honey or cayenne pepper.
- Herbal tea: Add 1-2Tbsp in hot lemon water or ginger tea.
- Juice: Add 1Tbsp into orange juice or lemonade for children.
- Salad dressing: Mix with olive oil and honey to make vinaigrette.
- Drizzle over steamed vegetables.
- Incorporated into soup or chili.
- It is added to rice or other steamed grains.
Precautions to Consider
- Avoid consuming on an empty stomach in order to prevent possible nausea or digestive upset. It is preferable to be taken with meals.
- Since apple cider vinegar is highly acidic, caution with use in cases of acid reflux or stomach ulcers.
- To minimize the risk of any damage to tooth enamel or irritation of the lining of the esophagus due to its acidic properties, swish and swallow with plain water after drinking fire cider or dilute in water before taking.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult with their medical doctor before starting any new health regimen to ensure safety and prevent any complications.
- Check with your doctor before starting, especially if taking other supplements or medications, to ensure no possible interactions.
About The Author:
Dr. Sierra Padmoroff is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor, Lifestyle Transformation Coach, and Holistic Healer.She is a current member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) and Washington Association of Naturopathic Physicians (WANP).