Warm up your Life with Fire Cider

Learn how to make your own Fire Cider and the many ways you can use this traditional remedy for immune & heart support, pain, microbiome health, etc

by Candice Brunlinger

Fire Cider (also known as Master Tonic, Cyclone Cider, Dragon Cider, or Plague Vinegar) is a traditional recipe and herbal remedy with many health benefits. It has been commonly used in varying recipes for hundreds of years, likely dating back to the European plague; however, it is unknown when and where this remedy's first use began.

Since the 1970s, the name Fire Cider has been promoted and shared by renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, who increased the popularity of this traditional recipe in modern herbalism. She coined the name "Fire Cider," although the general recipe can go by other names and have varying ingredients. Rosemary encourages us to make and use this delicious remedy as a daily tonic, especially during the winter season or in colder climates. It is fantastic for enhancing the immune system, circulation, and digestion while preventing and supporting colds, flu, fevers, and coughs.

About the traditional ingredients used:

Garlic (Allium sativum)

Garlic is one of the world's oldest medicines. It is an amazing spice that supports our body in handling various infections and illnesses. It can be used preventatively for colds, flu, fever, respiratory infections, ear infections, parasites, food poisoning, candida, urinary tract infections and is a general tonic for a weak immune system. Garlic has a wide range of benefits for the immune system. It contains vitamin C and sulfur compounds and has strong antibiotic, anti-fungal, anti-cancer, and anti-viral properties.

Garlic is one of the most well-known remedies for the heart and circulatory system, helping to prevent and treat coronary artery disease, strokes, and high cholesterol. It reduces high blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels and platelet clot formation. With potent anti-inflammatory properties, it aids in overall pain relief from arthritis, rheumatism, fibromyalgia, lupus, and many other conditions.

This aromatic spice not only adds delicious flavor to our food but is also rich in vitamins and minerals, beneficial for digestion, aids the body in detoxing, and is a potent blood purifier. No wonder this delicious spice is incorporated into various culinary dishes worldwide!

Onion (Allium cepa)

This popular food is one of the most well-known spices and has had culinary and medicinal uses worldwide, dating back to at least 5000 B.C. [1]. It is a cousin to garlic, and they are commonly cooked with and used medicinally together. Onion is so good for everything; it could be said that "an onion a day will keep the doctor away."

As an immune stimulant and decongestant, it helps prevent and treat colds, flu, fevers, coughs, sore throats, and sinus and ear infections. Onions help relieve general aches and pains with anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, especially arthritic and rheumatic.

Using onion in our food not only improves assimilation of nutrients but aids overall digestion by reducing gas, bloating, indigestion, and nausea from our meals. When used regularly, it helps control blood sugar levels and supports the heart tonic, improving cholesterol and hypertension.

The Ancient Egyptians associated onion with general healing, longevity, and eternal life. [2] Who would have thought this commonly used food had so many benefits for us?

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

This delicious rhizome is popular worldwide as a culinary spice and has a wide range of medicinal benefits, especially as a digestive and immune tonic. Ginger is referred to as "universal medicine" in the ancient healing tradition of Ayurveda (from India), which dates back 5,000 years. [3]

Ginger eases colds, flu, fever, and various respiratory ailments. It is one of the best remedies for nausea, motion or morning sickness, and an upset stomach. It increases the appetite, stimulates digestive functions or "digestive fire," and helps with the feeling of overeating. Ginger's anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory actions are a great remedy for digestive and menstrual cramps and general pain relief.

Ginger is high in antioxidants with potent anti-tumor properties. It increases circulation and is a heart tonic, warming the body, cold hands, and feet. Ginger has a stimulating and decongesting action for our entire body, and all our organs can benefit from it when feeling a little sluggish.

Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)

This root may not look or smell like much until you start to grate or chop it and the spicy oils and pungent aroma are released. Just smelling this spice can help clear your sinuses and decongest the respiratory system. It has a unique flavor that is either loved or disliked as a culinary ingredient. Still, the medicinal benefits are endless, with a long and rich historical use throughout Asia, Europe, Ancient Egypt, and the United States. The earliest mention of its use as a spice, vegetable, and culinary condiment dates back to 1500 B. C. [4]

Horseradish has potent anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties that aid food-borne bacteria infections such as E.coli, Listeria, and Salmonella. [5] It can be used as a preservative to extend our food's freshness and shelf life, especially meat.
As a digestive aid, horseradish helps the body process fat and heavy meals. It stimulates the appetite relieves gas, bloating, and indigestion while helping with diarrhea when triggered by gut bugs.

The immune-enhancing actions of this spice can reduce fevers, colds, flu, sore throats, loss of voice, pneumonia, and asthma. It decongests and stimulates to help clear out and speed recovery from being sick. In addition to those properties, the analgesic quality of this spice also helps with general aches, pains, and swelling, especially from arthritis, rheumatism, gout, muscle soreness, etc.

The antioxidant properties and enzymes found in horseradish may promote anti-carcinogenic benefits by protecting the body from cancer and combating already present cancer cells. [6]

With all these benefits, it is no surprise Greek mythology has revered horseradish as a prized plant, with the Oracle of Delphi supposedly professing it to be "worth its weight in gold." [7]

Cayenne (Capsicum annuum)

Cayenne is a spicy red pepper with culinary and medicinal uses worldwide. It gives a nice 'kick' of flavor to our food with numerous health benefits, including reducing coughs, colds, flu, and sore throats.

Its anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, and analgesic properties make it an excellent remedy to infuse and apply topically in low doses to relieve pain and swollen joints, especially for arthritis and rheumatism. Its antiseptic use is beneficial for minor wounds and scratches, and it will immediately stop bleeding.

Cayenne will increase metabolic function, which is helpful for weight loss and regulating the appetite. [8] It increases circulation, stimulates digestion, improves the body's ability to assimilate and absorb nutrients, strengthens cardiovascular health, reduces bad cholesterol, and helps improve the normal detoxification functions of the body. A little goes a long way with this spice, both in flavor and medicinal uses.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Vinegar is excellent for extracting minerals, vitamins, alkaloids, and aromatics from herbs. It can be used in both culinary and cosmetic applications. Internally, apple cider vinegar helps stimulate digestion and relieve nausea, heartburn, and acid reflux. It helps to lower blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Vinegar encourages detoxing, helps break down fat, and balances pH levels. It also aids in the prevention of colds, flu, stomach illness, sinus infections, allergies, and asthma.

It is a great way to infuse and take your medicine, especially for those who are not able to or prefer not to consume alcohol-based extractions. Cosmetically, it also balances the skin's pH, is disinfecting and astringent, and can be used on the scalp to stimulate hair growth and reduce dandruff.

For culinary use, herbal vinegar infusions are delicious in salad dressings, stir-fries, cooked grains, vegetables, marinades, and any recipe that calls for vinegar.


Honey is lovely to include if you like a little sweetness with your spice. The thick viscous honey smooths the astringent vinegar to help the medicine go down. Plus, it makes a delicious addition to encourage drizzling Fire Cider on food. When used just right, it harmonizes the tart, spicy, pungent, and sweet flavors, bringing them together for a delicious and versatile burst of flavor that delights the senses and engages the entire body into balance. Honey adds more anti-inflammatory, digestive, respiratory, and immune benefits to the tonic.

Learn more about the medicinal benefits of honey and how you can make your own herbal honey infusions. 

How to Make Fire Cider:
The wonderful thing about making your fire cider is you can use whatever fresh, dry, or seasonal ingredients you have on hand and in any proportion you like. You can experiment with different flavors such as lemon, orange, and berry. Do not get too caught up with exact recipes; however, here is a general base recipe you can work with to help guide you.

1 cup chopped onion

½ cup diced garlic

½ cup fresh garden spices (or ¼ cup dried) (i.e., rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, bay, parsley, cilantro)

½ cup freshly grated ginger

¼ cup grated horseradish

1-2 hot peppers of choice (to taste)

Or 1/8 tsp cayenne powder (if hot peppers are not in season)

Optional: 1 cup of honey

24 oz Apple Cider Vinegar (less when adding honey)

You can also include any other spices, vegetables, and even fruit of choice: radish, burdock, turnip, turmeric, peppercorn, mustard seed, fennel, dill, leek, orange, lemon, grapefruit, mandarin, blackberry, pomegranate, elderberry, nettle, dandelion, beet greens, etc. Just adjust the recipe or get a larger jar.

You will need a quart-sized mason jar, cutting board, knife, grater, and mixing spoon to prepare the fire cider. You will need muslin, cheesecloth, or a stainless-steel mesh strainer and a bottle to store it.

Chop and grate all fresh ingredients. Add all dried and fresh ingredients into a mason jar until 3/4 filled. Pour in your honey and then Apple Cider Vinegar until all the ingredients are saturated with 1-2 inches of extra liquid. Stir or shake the ingredients to ensure they are free-flowing and not packed too tightly. Infuse for 2-3 weeks, shaking daily. (Some people let it infuse for up to 6 months!) Store the jar in a cool, dry, and dark place. Strain using cheesecloth, muslin, or a stainless-steel strainer, squeezing as much of the liquid out as you can. Save the mixture and use it to make a nourishing broth. You can also dehydrate the material and powder into a delicious sprinkle for your meals. The flavor should be hot, sweet, and spicy. Bottle the fire cider and enjoy the numerous health benefits of this tonic infusion.

Benefits and Uses of Fire Cider:

It's excellent for stimulating the immune system, clearing out congestion, warming the body, and increasing circulation. Topically, you can use it as a liniment to reduce aches and pains or add a ¼-1 cup to a foot bath to help peak fevers.

Take 1-2 tbsp, 3-4 times daily when sick or feeling under the weather, and 1-2 times daily as a tonic for its overall medicinal benefits.

You can use Fire Cider straight up or incorporate it into your salad dressings and marinades. Add to cooked grains, stir-fries, beans and lentils, vegetables, etc., to enhance the medicinal benefits and flavor of your meals.

When used daily as a tonic, Fire Cider has numerous benefits, including:

* Enhancing the immune system to prevent illness and ward away colds and flu

* Prebiotic to feed beneficial flora and support a healthy environment for our microbiome to thrive

* Helps various respiratory ailments, including illness, congestion, allergies, and asthma

* Stimulate and improve digestion; reduce gas, bloating, indigestion, nausea, etc.

* Support and strengthen the heart and cardiovascular system; reduce high cholesterol and blood pressure

* Increase circulation and add warmth throughout the body

*Support healthy blood sugar & metabolism

* Stimulate and decongest all the organ systems, reducing the feeling of sluggishness

* Reduce inflammation

* Use internally or topically for general aches, pains, and swelling

* Supports the daily detoxing functions of the body to maintain optimal health

* Great source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants

February 2 is Worldwide Fire Cider Making Day!

Years ago, a company trademarked the name Fire Cider and tried to legally monopolize the market with their product, preventing other herbalists from making this long-used traditional remedy under that name.  The FREE FIRE CIDER Movement brought the herbal community together to petition, raise money, and legally overturn this unethical and unlawful trademark.  This was important because the trademark set a precedent for any company to claim rights to use any herbal formula and prevent the plants from being honored traditionally by herbalists and indigenous tribes.  This could have set in motion more laws preventing small business herbalists and healers like myself from providing medicine for our communities.

This was more than a petition against the legal rights to a name.  It was a battle to protect the sovereignty and rights of plants, medicine makers, and the people's rights to access medicine.

After years of legalities, we were grateful the rights of the plants were legally honored and restored. We now have a day to celebrate making and sharing this wonderful remedy from this movement.  On February 2, it is encouraged to gather with friends and family and prepare a batch of fire cider. Of course, you can make this any time of year; however, it is fun to tap into the fiery energy of the collective by making some during the first week of February. To share recipes, inspire others, and celebrate our right to use plant medicine.

About the Author:

Candice Brunlinger is an Herbalist, Intuitive Healer, Health & Wellness Educator, and Mindfulness Coach with an integrative approach to healing using plants, nutrition, self-care, and energy practices, including Tai Chi, Qigong, and EFT.

She supports others with simple solutions to empower health through whole food nutrition, emotional freedom, and mindfulness. Explore her online courses, class offerings, and one-on-one health coaching at www.herballivingandhealing.com

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onion
[2] https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/bulkherb/o.php
[3] Ayurveda Tradition Uses Ginger Root by David Ottoson
[4] http://www.horseradish.org/history.html
[5] http://www.herbs-info.com/horseradish.html
[6] Horseradish Protection Against Cancer and More by Steve Goodman
[7] http://www.horseradish.org/history.html
[8] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cayenne_pepper
[9] Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide (page 74)