Healing by Another Name
Rosemary Gladstar has been a dedicated herbalist since 1972 and started the California School of Herbal Studies in the early 1980s. There was a desire to teach her students about herbal preparations which could be as much about medicine as food. Experimenting with different concoctions, fire cider was born.
The cider contains herbs, vinegar, and honey. Using vinegar and honey to create a medicine is called an oxymel and was first documented by Hippocrates, the practice continued in various forms to the present day. In the middle ages, it was called “4 Thieves” because it was said to have kept four grave robbers from contracting the plague while going about their ghastly business.
Several apple cider vinegar recipes have been in circulation for many decades as folks found them beneficial to keep the immune system in good shape through the winter months. Rosemary’s fire cider original recipe contains garlic, onions, horseradish root, ginger root, hot peppers, sometimes turmeric, and often echinacea. *Combined, they make for powerful immune enhancers. Other ingredients are often added to enhance the already powerful combinations.
Since the 1980’s the cider has gained popularity both as homebrew and by small herbal companies. It is easy to make as you will soon see. If you do not have the time or inclination, you can buy Fire Cider but only from one company that trademarked the name, taking it from the public domain and as a widely used folk remedy under with this specific name.
The Controversy – All to One
Though fire cider had been in the public domain, in one form or another, for centuries, Shire City Herbals trademarked the name “Fire Cider,” effectively removing the name from public use and proceeded to send Cease and Desist letters to small herbal companies that had been making and selling it for years. It is disheartening when so much of Rosemary’s work is done to share and promote healthy living for all. There is an effort to free the name, please read more about this fascinating effort here.
Herbs and ACV – An Immunity Powerhouse
Apple Cider Vinegar – acetic acid and flavonoids are the primary constituents and have been reported to affect immune defense and oxidative responses and physiologically may act like other anti-pathogenic compounds. “Equally, perhaps additive dietary supplementation with ACV could be of benefit in acute infections, autoimmune induced immune dysregulation or antibiotic redundancy in humans.” (Yagnik, et al., Discussion)
Echinacea – amides, echinacoside, and cichoric acid are thought to be the active phytochemicals that are effective immunomodulators and may have the potential for modulating the whole immune system. (Zhai et al., Discussion)
Garlic – the major constituent in garlic is allicin, which transforms into organosulfurs. These compounds minimize the oxidation, inflammation and other cell-destroying processes in a variety of diseases. Packed with vitamins, minerals and other antioxidants it protects against heart disease and cancer. (Aggarwal, p. 127)
Ginger root – gingerols, a phytonutrient, is the active constituent that is antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-disease. (Aggarwal, p.137) It is very effective at calming upset tummies too.
Horseradish root – ounce for ounce, horseradish contains more medicinally active compounds than most other spices. They clear mucus, congestion, stimulate the immune system and address a host of other conditions. Allyl isothiocyanate is just one of the constituents proven effective in treating upper respiratory problems. (Aggarwal, p. 141)
Hot peppers-capsaicin is the substance that makes peppers hot, the hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin which has proven benefits for pain relief, heart health, cancer prevention, ulcers. They also contain a wealth of antioxidant vitamins. (Aggarwal, p. 70)
Onions – in the same family group as garlic, onions contain allicin and quercetin which is a flavonoid. Quercetin has been shown to exert inflammation and immune modulating activity. (Li, et al., section 5.1.1)
Turmeric- curcumin is the active substance and is a potent anti-inflammatory and studies demonstrate the effectiveness of decreasing both acute and chronic inflammation. (Sharma, p. 108)
How it Works
By infusing the powerful combination of herbs in the vinegar for a length time, the healthful herbal constituents are transferred to the ACV which is then consumed. *The resulting tonic is said to be a powerhouse by supporting the bodies innate immune system to ward off or fight infections. Taken daily, proponents of the fire drink say it keeps them strong and healthy through the winter months.
Judge for yourself, following is an easy recipe to get you going and exploring this amazing drink.
3-5 cups raw unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
2 TBLS dried echinacea
1/2 cup peeled and chopped ginger
1/2 cup peeled and chopped garlic
1/2 cup peeled and chopped horseradish
1/3 cup peeled and chopped turmeric (you can use 1 tablespoon turmeric powder as a substitute for fresh)
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 onion peeled and chopped
1-2 hot peppers of choice chopped
Place the herbs in into a clean, sterilized jar that will accept the herbs and enough ACV to cover at least an inch above.
Pour apple cider vinegar over the top to cover the herbs by an inch or a bit more. If using a metal lid, place cheesecloth or unbleached parchment paper over the top of the jar, and then seal tightly.
Let the tonic sit on the counter for at least 4 weeks, longer for stronger.
Strain the herbs from the mixture into a new, clean jar, add honey if using and mix well. Label the jar with the date and store in the refrigerator up to a year.
Use – 1-2 TLBS daily, straight or diluted with warm water. Also makes a wonderful salad dressing, flavor vegetables, and other culinary concoctions like soups and stews.
Please share your thoughts and experiences with this tonic to help us all grow healthy together!
*This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA.
Leslie Rice is an avid health proponent and works at Botanically Rooted in Greensboro, NC. where she is learning from two amazing clinical aromatherapists.
Contact: [email protected]
Aggarwal, B. B., & Yost, D. (2011). Healing Spices: How to Use 50 Everyday and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease. New York, NY: Sterling Publishing Company.
Gladstar, R. (n.d.). Rosemary’s Story – Free Fire Cider. Retrieved from http://freefirecider.com/rosemarys-story/
Li, Y., Yao, J., Yang, J., Chaudry, M., Wang, S., Liu, H., & Yin, Y. (2016, March 15). Quercetin, Inflammation and Immunity. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4808895/
Sharma, D. C. (2017). TURMERIC (CURCUMA LONGA) WSR TO CURCUMIN. World Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, 740-753. doi:10.20959/wjpr20177-8826
Yagnik, D., Serafin, V., & Shah, A. (2018, August). Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5788933/
Zhai, Z., Wu, L., Senchina, D., Wurtele, E., Murphy, P., Kohut, M., & Cunnick, J. (2008, April 30). Enhancement of Innate and Adaptive Immune Functions by Multiple Echinacea Species. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2362099/#R6