fire cider

Cold and Flu fighting Remedies (recipes included)

Fire cider is a traditional herbal tonic used to ward off colds and flus. The name literally describes it's contents: Fire (everything spicy) and Cider (apple cider vinegar). In the Nutritional Supplements class I took when completing my graduate degree, we made fire cider and elderberry syrup. Who says supplements can't be real food?


Over the last year every time myself or a friend were feeling a cold coming on, I gave/took 1-2 teaspoons of this fire cider and in less than 24 hours, we've all won the fight. This is because so many of the ingredients in fire cider are anti-microbial, enhance nutrient absorption or stimulate circulation.

Allium spices like garlic and onion are characterized by a rich content of sulfur-containing compounds like thiosulfinates. One of the ways these sulfur compounds boost immunity is by increasing the bioaccessibility of minerals like zinc, which is used as a cofactor in 300 different enzymes, including antioxidant superoxide dismutase (SOD). It is also important for proper utilization of vitamin D and vitamin A and is required for immune cell replication. Taking advantage of sulfur compounds in food to enhance absorption of zinc is an example of "food synergy", a phenomena only seen in foods.

I made a variation from the recipe in Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health book.


Immune-Boosting Fire Cider


  • 1 quart size mason jar
  • Wax paper
  • Food processor
   This is what your filled jar should look like before adding the apple cider vinegar. I ended up transferring these contents to a quart-sized jar because there wasn't enough room at the top. 


This is what your filled jar should look like before adding the apple cider vinegar. I ended up transferring these contents to a quart-sized jar because there wasn't enough room at the top. 


Base ingredients

  • 3/4 cup ginger
  • 1/2 cup grated horseradish
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 jalapeños
  • Handful dried chili peppers, crushed 
  • 2 turmeric roots (or about 1 tbsp powdered turmeric)
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • A few fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano 
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp black peppercorn
  • 1 tsp cayenne powder
  • Sliced orange/lemon peel
  • 1 cup raw honey
  • 2 cups, apple cider vinegar

Other optional ingredients:


  1.  Add garlic, ginger, onion, and jalapeños to a food processor and chop. 
  2. Add all ingredients to your glass jar and fill to the top with apple cider vinegar. Be sure all the ingredients are well-covered to prevent spoilage. 
  3. Cut a square of wax paper large enough to cover the mouth of your jar.
  4. Place the lid on top of the wax paper and close tightly. This is so the acid doesn't eat at the metal on the lid.
  5. Shake daily for a minimum of 1 month and store in a dark, cool place.
  6. When ready to use, shake well and strain using cheesecloth.

Ways to enjoy Fire Cider:

  • As a spoonful. 1 tsp for prevention, 2-3 for treatment.
  • In salad dressings/vinaigrettes
  • In a stir fry


  1. Gautam S, Platel K, Srinivasan K. Higher bioaccessibility of iron and zinc from food grains in the presence of garlic and onion. J Agric Food Chem. 2010;58(14):8426-9.
  2. Jacobs DR, Gross MD, Tapsell LC. Food synergy: an operational concept for understanding nutrition. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89(5):1543S-1548S
  3. Kirk, Elizabeth. Micronutrients class notes. 2014. 
  4. Gladstar, Rosemary. Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health:175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family. Storey Publishing, LLC, 2008.

Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry is known for its antiviral, immune modulating and antioxidant properties. It has been tested against at least 13 different strains of the influenza virus and the outcomes were positive for killing these strains. Elderberries contain a constituent which has been found to inhibit hemagglutinin spikes on virus, preventing the virus from attaching to your cells and thus preventing replication. Elderberries also contain antioxidants called proanthocyanidins that help protect the cells against damage and help repair present damage. The effects of proanthocyanidins explain why we may experience a decrease in symptoms and shorter duration of the flu. This means elderberries can be used to prevent AND reduce the duration of the flu.


Homemade elderberry syrup, an immune boosting treat!

A photo posted by Anisa Woodall, MS CN (@anisawoodallnutrition) on

  • Medium saucepan
  • Sterilized bottle/jar
  • Cheesecloth
  • Fine mesh strainer


  • 1 oz dried, or 3 oz fresh, Elderberries (Sambucus nigra)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 - 1 cup raw honey to preserve and sweeten


 Use 1/2 oz elderberry with 1/2 oz echinacea or astragalus

Yield: 1 cup concentrated decoction


  1. Add elderberries to cold water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat, simmering until the liquid reduces to 1 cup (half). You may measure the level by placing a chopstick into mixture and mark the line with a sharpie. Use this chopstick to see when the level has reduced by half.
  2. Once the liquid has reduced by half, use a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth to strain and discard (compost) the herbs. Press out as much liquid as possible.
  3. For each cup of liquid add 1/2-1 cup honey. Gently stir until well mixed.
  4. Pour the syrup into sterilized bottles/jars, label and store in a cool dry place.



  1. Rosemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal
  2. Herbal Syrups and Oxymiels handout. Nutrition Supplements. Jan 2015.