Fire Cider: Staying Healthy All Winter Long

It’s flu season and with everything going on in my life these past few months – more stress, less sleep – my immune system is probably taking quite a beating, making me seriously susceptible to catching viruses and colds this winter.  That’s the last thing I need.

So, last weekend, I brewed up a new batch of Fire Cider – a spicy, stinky, sour tonic made from nurtient- and anti-oxidant-rich roots and vegetables, fermented in apple cider vinegar.

Sound too awful to try?

What if I tell you that I haven’t been sick – not even once – since I started taking it?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve gotten sick twice a year (usually in May and October) without fail.  But last fall, after hearing about Fire Cider from a girlfriend, I decided to give it a try and I have not missed a single day of work due to illness in more than 18 months.  (More importantly, I haven’t missed a single day of my LIFE because of a cold or virus in 18 months.)

So before you judge, consider the health benefits of Fire Cider and ask yourself: what is a healthy immune system worth to me?

Fire Cider from Tracy Smith on Vimeo.

Why does Fire Cider work?

Fire Cider works because of the powerful ingredients (benefits listed below), coupled with the fact that – combined – they combat and prevent chronic inflammation which, according to the Cleveland Clinic, plays a role in just about every major disease we want desperately to avoid: diabetes, cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and even depression.

NOTE: I have worked in health care for more than 12 years. The benefits of homeopathic medicine are not always excepted by Western Medicine. Fine. But many eastern cultures have used these methods to stay healthy for years. So even if the data to support the medicinal use of these veggies and roots isn’t up to Western Medicine’s standards, anecdotes count for something. And – yes – so do psychosomatic benefits! So, unless your doctor specifically advises you AGAINST using Fire Cider to boost your immune system (and you should always check with your doctor before beginning any new health regime), why not give it a try and see if it works for you?

CRITICAL NOTE: Please, please, please do not stop taking any medications you may be taking for depression, diabetes or any other pre-existing condition you may be suffering from! This blog post is intended for healthy, disease free people looking to stay that way and strengthen their body’s ability to fight off common colds, viruses and infections.


The benefits of garlic – both raw and cooked – are well documented.  Garlic has been proven to lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressures, can help prevent atherosclerosis, hypertension and high cholesterol, and is believed by many to prevent common cancers.

(For a little light reading, check out this study of the potential therapeutic effects of garlic published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health in 2014. Bottom line: we’ve only scratched the surface of what garlic can do for us.)


Onions are rich in vitamin C which helps to combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer and which we already know is great for boosting our immune systems.  They are also nutrient dense, high in fiber and are packed full of folic acid, which some experts believe can help us stabilize our moods and help us sleep better. Onions are so good for you, they even have their own association!


Jalapeños are a nightshade – which can be very bad for people with autoimmune disease, so be sure to leave this ingredient off your list if you have an autoimmune disease or intestinal issues. For the rest of us, however, jalapeños have a high vitamin C content and may boost your metabolism, too. (Also, to me, they have great flavor.)


Horseradish is a cruciferous vegetable, also known as a brassica vegetable, and  epidemiological studies suggest that brassica vegetables are protective against cancers of the lungs and alimentary tract.  And, like just about every other ingredient on this list, it’s full of  dietary fiber, vitamin-C, folate, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and manganese.


This small, orange root, which looks a lot like a lumpy carrot when the skin is peeled, contains high amounts of curcumin, a powerful, natural anti-inflammatory compound that many cultures have used medicinally for years to treat a variety of ailments and illnesses.

Dr. Josh Axe, a regular on the Dr. Oz show, points to research suggesting curcumin is superior to many medications used to treat a variety of common diseases including depression, arthritis and high cholesterol.

Since it also stains, be sure to minimize contact with it unless wearing gloves (and DON’T cut it on porous countertop surfaces like marble!)


Like turmeric root, ginger has been used by many cultures – especially Asian and Indian cultures – for it’s healthful properties for centuries. Any woman who’s ever had morning sickness knows the temporary, but powerful effect ginger can have on a queasy stomach. Ginger has also been found to ease muscle pain and reduce chronic inflammation. And unlike most of the ingredients on this list, it’s just as effective cooked pickled, made into a tea, dried, crystallized and just about any other form you can dream up, as it is raw.

Apple Cider Vinegar

The first time I was introduced to the healthful merits of Apple Cider Vinegar was during my first pregnancy. I developed a sore throat that I felt certain was the first symptom of a developing virus. My OB/GYN suggested a try a spoonful of Apple Cider Vinegar twice a day for a couple days, rather than take a decongestant or antihistamine. My sore throat was gone in a day and the impending virus never materialized. I was amazed.

This powerful (and, to me, tasty) tonic has a number of health benefits such as aiding digestion, and some say, assisting with weight loss.


If you don’t have time to make it, you can buy Fire Cider here, sweetened or unsweetened. It tastes about the same and – in my experience – is equally effective. But one 16 oz. jar won’t last you very long and costs the same as half a gallon, homemade.

Again, unless you have a preexisting condition, allergy or other medical reason not to try it, there’s really no downside.

Give it a try and report back on your experience!

Want to learn more?

Check out this article, Attack of the Immune System from Men’s Journal.

This piece, published last month in the Chicago Sun-Times, lists other foods that help prevent chronic inflammation, including turmeric and ginger.

Learn more about why cancer researchers are studying the cancer-preventing qualities of cruciferous vegetables. You can also find more information about brassica vegetables here.

The Chicago Tribune published this article on the nutritional benefits of apple cider vinegar earlier this year.

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4 thoughts on “Fire Cider: Staying Healthy All Winter Long

  1. This is excellent! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe with us. I am currently having a bit of a bug in my system and have been on a ginger ale/acv tonic/saltine/applesauce diet for the past couple of days. This is just want I need to try. Happy Holidays!

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