First of all let's get one thing clear: Nothing you eat or drink can keep you from getting the COVID-19 virus, but there are things you can drink or eat to stay healthy, boost your immune system, and try to lower your chances of having severe symptoms if you do contract it or any virus or cold for that matter this winter.

Here's your best bet on how to make an at-home tonic that will strengthen your immune system and protect your body from suffering the most severe symptoms if you do happen to catch something.

Like any virus, such as the flu or a cold, taking care of yourself is the best way to give your body the strength it needs to fight the invaders. In the case of COVID-19, wear a mask, wash your hands, and if you get it, quarantine, rest and drink plenty of fluids.

What is "Fire Cider", a Popular Folk Remedy?

The term "fire cider" has been popular since the late 70s or early 80s, created by an herbalist and recently the subject of a bigger court case about whether a company could trademark the name, which previously referred broadly to an at-home natural remedy tonic full of onions, garlic, spices, vinegar and more (The herbalists lost, leading fans of natural remedies feeling that this was a miscarriage of justice because to them it would be like branding the words “ice tea”).

The case was covered widely, since home remedies have been around for eons, and are often used when modern medicine comes up short, leaving every individual to fend for themselves. This is the case with new diseases such as the coronavirus since while we wait for the vaccine to become widely available, people are turning to health tonics, elixirs, and teas to try to boost their immunity.

Should You Create Your Own Immunity Tonic From Known Health Boosters?

"Yes, this type of elixir has been around for a long time. In herbal medicine, we call it an oxymel," explains Dr. Chad Larson, NMD, DC, CCN, CSCS, advisor and consultant for Cyrex Laboratories. "With the dominance of the pharmaceutical industry, many of these very therapeutic remedies are becoming a lost art. Hippocrates wrote about using oxymels over two thousand years ago, to help release sputum and soothe the upper respiratory tract."

Dr. Larson shared an interesting blog post on oxymels, from Mountain Rose Herbs, which clarifies that not all elixirs are oxymels since the term refers to one that mixes acidic ingredients like apple cider vinegar with honey. Meanwhile, the term "fire cider" was made popular by an herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, and her fellow plant-medicine colleagues, and they recently tried without success to fight the trademarking of the name "fire cider" by a company that sells a version of it in bottled form. The case was well watched by those interested in the right to keep traditional remedies free of trademark restrictions, to no avail, the blog reports.

'Oxymel' describes a combination of known immune-boosting ingredients mixed into hot water that when ingested daily can add powerful antioxidants, vitamin C, zinc, and other compounds that are known to arm your cellular defenses against viral invaders. Since long before modern medicine, healers have used ginger, turmeric, horseradish, garlic, and lemon to treat ailments from congestion to indigestion. These may not kill the dreaded coronavirus, but if you are taking every other preventative measure, (mask-wearing, hand-washing, social -isolating) what could be the harm?

We have done stories at The Beet on the anti-inflammatory properties of ginger and the vitamin C benefits of lemon in hot water (which many people drink in the morning to aid digestion rather than coffee to start the day) and the immunity-boosting compounds in garlic— and the anti-inflammatory properties abs multi-benefits of turmeric. So it makes sense that combining these roots and fruits into an elixir alongside the benefits of apple cider vinegar and spices can supercharge your immune system.

How to Make Your Own Immune-Boosting "Fire Cider"

What to drink to boost immunity— and the benefits of creating your own hot tea or elixirs with a combination of:

  • Raw, unpasteurized Apple cider vinegar
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Lemon
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Jalepeño pepper
  • Peppercorns
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Horseradish
  • Optional: Honey

A Note about honey: If you want to add honey to sweeten it, but if someone is vegan they choose not to eat honey since it is an animal bi-product.

Most recipes call for you to chop up all of the fruits, vegetables, and roots, add to an airtight glass jar, cover with your herbs and then fill with apple cider vinegar an inch or two past the herbs, and let sit in a warm place for a couple of weeks, shaking the jar daily. After a few weeks, strain out the liquid, and add a sweetener like honey (or agave if you're vegan) and it's ready to drink.

There are many different ways to ingest this folk remedy: You can take a couple of tablespoons in the morning like an immunity shot, add it to tea or hot water to dilute the strong taste, or incorporate it into your recipes as a marinade or salad dressing. You can even soak a cloth in your tonic and rub it on your chest to ease congestion.

Too much to keep on hand? Assuming you have all these ingredients or are pressed for time or don't want to create your own tonic, to buy it premade, try this Fire Cider to drink instantly.

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