‘Tis the season for flu and colds! In the functional medicine world, we always say that this is the “lack of Vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin) season”. Studies indicate that the Northern winter season is a risk factor for low vitamin D, increased influenza, and other respiratory illnesses but a few years ago I found the perfect remedy and it’s called Fire Cider.
While Fire Cider isn’t universally known, it has been around since the 70’s (likely even before that) and is becoming more popular as all good secrets do.
Fire Cider can assist us at the first sign of cold symptoms or act as a decongestant and expectorant when illness has set in. Its spicy stimulating qualities can be used to move stuck congestion, it can soothe a sore throat or be taken as a preventive measure to avoid getting upper respiratory infections. Take it by the spoonful or mix it in your smoothies, hot water or even salad dressings. This tonic is not only an ally for the immune system, but it also works to stimulate digestion and promote circulation throughout the body. It can be taken daily for prevention, before meals to assist in digestion, to keep us warm on those bone-chilling days, or in acute situations to fight off illness.
Fire Cider at its most basic level, is a mixture of onions, garlic, turmeric, ginger, jalapeño peppers, oranges, lemons, rosemary and horseradish infused with apple cider vinegar (vinegar draws out many plant constituents) and sweetened with your favorite local raw honey. It’s these ingredients that make this tonic a powerful tool to have in your house.
Onions are used to boost cardiovascular health, they have connective tissue benefits, and act as an anti-inflammatory agent. Garlic is used to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, heart attack, atherosclerosis, asthma, it builds the immune system, helps level blood sugar, and can be used topically to treat fungal infections. Fresh horseradish is known to be an effective agent against the flu and common cold, tonsillitis, respiratory disorders, urinary tract infections, and pathogenic fungus.
Turmeric is pretty much the be-all and end-all of health foods. It’s known to delay liver damage, reduce carcinogenic compounds in foods, inhibit the growth of malignant melanoma and breast cancer, alleviate arthritis symptoms and treat skin conditions. It’s also been shown to exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal activities and thus has the potential to fight against various malignant diseases, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and chronic illnesses.
Ginger is used to treat arthritis, muscle pain, upset stomach, gas, upper respiratory tract infections, and coughs. It’s also a natural blood thinner and keeps your gut flora intact. Jalapeño peppers boost your metabolism, and offer headache, sinus, and arthritis relief as well as releasing endorphins.
Oranges are great for heart health and as part of a best-case-scenario-anti-cancer-diet. They fight cholesterol, aid in weight loss, and prevent or break up kidney stones. Lemons are known to aid in digestion and help to alleviate vertigo, kidney stones, and the ringing of the ears. They also treat colds, improve the function of blood vessels, and reduce inflammation and retention of water. Researchers have found that polyphenol antioxidants found in lemons significantly reduce weight gain in people by antioxidant compounds that also offset the negative effects on blood glucose levels and improved insulin resistance.
Apple cider vinegar is known to be a good source of acetic and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), mineral salts, amino acids, and other key components of good nutrition, but it is also a well-loved folk remedy thought to ease digestion, fight obesity and diabetes, wash toxins from the body and reverse aging. Apple cider vinegar itself offers potassium, manganese, calcium, iron, magnesium, and phosphorous.
Local raw honey is a fantastic, all-natural fighter of seasonal allergies. Because bees collect pollen from flowers in your area and then convert it to honey to feed their hives, eating raw, local honey is like a tasty allergy shot. Rosemary is a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which are thought to help boost the immune system and improve blood circulation. It is also considered a cognitive stimulant and can help improve memory performance and quality.
Fire cider is widely known to reinforce your body's natural health benefits - inspiring your inner body with a warmth that many believe promotes a healthy immune system. Using fire cider as a daily treatment, starting with even a teaspoon a day, can help to ward off an illness before it reaches crisis mode. To me, it’s as good as an extra blanket on a cold night - are you curious enough to try it?
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