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  • Whakima Herbals

(Not) Fire Cider

Hey all! I started this post when it was dreary and rainy and yucky. You know the wet, sloppy side of Fall that we pretend to "like" because Fall is just awesome and we want to keep on drinking pumpkin spice chai and watching the forest explode with color? Yeah, obviously it didn't get posted, because THIS week I go distracted by Fall's other personality: the crisp but warm sunshine bathed days with crunchy leaves.

Where you HAVE to be outside soaking up your last chances of vitamin D and you almost get hot, but then a brisk wind dances through with a few more leaves to remind you to heat up your caramel apple spice tea and throw a log on the fire. Oh Fall. You might be my favorite season, well at least until winter comes, and spring is my favorite too, and summer...there is a reason I am a Minnesota Gal!


Fire Oxymel (not cider)

I told you last time I may stick with oxymels for a little while and since I made another oxymel this week, I thought I would share it all with you. Believe it or not, there are MANY plants and herbs that work naturally WITH your body to fight sickness.

Most people are familiar with the healing power of garlic, but did you know that horseradish, ginger, turmeric, cayenne, onion (among others) can also pack a pretty powerful punch to those icky nasties trying to wreak havoc on your body? Throw them all together with some apple cider vinegar and honey and you have a pretty amazing and effective oxymel.

Benefits include boosting the immune system, improving digestion, anti-inflammatory, warming and decongestant. If you search old remedy books and even online, you will find many references to "fire cider". That name has now been trademarked, so herbalists and online sellers can no longer call it that. Searches for "fire tonic" or "master tonic" will also yield a plethora of similar recipes. There is not right or wrong way. (okay there are many wrong ways...) BUT...generally speaking this folk remedy consists of ACV (apple cider vinegar, if you don't know the "lingo" yet), chili peppers, horseradish, ginger, garlic, and onion....aaaaand then (just like with elderberry syrup) most people add additional ingredients to make it "their own".


Now, speaking of elderberry syrup, some of you may be thinking.."Wait a minute you herbal guru, you" (okay, I made up that part about the herbal guru) "...I already take elderberry syrup for acute sickness and immune support...how is this different?"


Short answer: they work in two different ways.

Long(er) answer: A Fire Tonic or Fire Oxymel uses the ACV to alkalize the body, then the herbs, spices and other ingredients extracted in the ACV work to warm the body, reduce inflammation and increase circulation, very important factors in stimulating the immune system into action.


Fevers (warming) are actually VERY important to helping your body fight illness by helping your immune system working effectively. Very over-simplistically, an increase in body temperature stimulates every part of the immune system to jump into action and fight the illness. If you are interested in the VERY scientific explanation, HERE is a place to "start" where you can learn all about mobilization of lymphocytes, cytoprotective proteins, innate versus adaptive immunity and more.

Elderberry syrup, (or tincture) on the other hand, works directly on the viruses themselves. Viruses work by infiltrating various types of cells (cold and flu type viruses use respiratory tract cells, HIV use immune cells, etc), replicating themselves and then releasing into the body to repeat the cycle (aka the "lytic cycle") causing infection. Elderberries contain flavonoids capable of stopping the virus' ability to penetrate the host cell, thus prevents replication and keeps the virus from spreading. The elderberries in the syrup or extract are the star, but the other herbs often included in various elderberry syrup recipes work to "warm" the body (cinnamon, star anise, ginger - see the benefits of a fever described above) or provide vitamin C (rose hips, lemon, white pine...). For the intense sciency side of elderberries, where you can lead about things like 5,7,3',4'-tetra-O-methylquercetin, Novel hemagglutinin-based influenza virus inhibitors and the effect of elderberry on both Gram-positive bacteria & Gram-negative bacteria, read more HERE, HERE and HERE. (Seriously, the "learner" in me is so incredibly, fired up right now! Such cool reading!!!!!!)

So, there you have it...does your brain hurt yet!!??!? I will stop with the sciency stuff and get to the recipe. I got this recipe from Mountain Rose Herbs, because I do not reinvnet the wheel when I don't have to, which I converted it to parts, because I like my recipes to be flexible - sometimes I need a lot, sometimes I need a little...plus it usually involves a spreadsheet, and I like spreadsheets (like, a lot).


Fire Oxymel

6 parts garlic

8 parts horseradish

8 parts ginger

8 parts onion

2 parts jalapeno

2 parts lemon zest

3 parts lemon juice

2 parts rosemary

1 turmeric

1/12 part cayenne (yes...1/12)

4 (or more, or less) parts honey

Enough apple cider vinegar to cover herbs by 1-2 inches


Chop, shred, or grate ingredients and put in a glass jar. Cover with apple cider vinegar and add honey if desired. (Some say to add the honey after you strain) Cover and shake well (line cover with parchment paper to protect the metal lid). Label and date the lid, store in a cool dark place and shake daily for approximately 4-6 weeks. Strain out the solids. (some leave the solids in add take them as a part of the remedy)


The most common recommendation is to take 1-2 tablespoons throughout the fall/winter months as a preventative measure, or every three to four hours, if you are feeling sick. My preference is to keep my body strong through a clean diet and plenty of rest, and use remedies like these when illness strikes. Most herbs should not be used long term, lest you build up a type of tolerance to the herb’s medicinal benefits. Likewise, while the warming effects of this oxymel are great for kicking your immune system into action, it’s not a state you constantly want to be in.


Are you a "true" Minnesotan who feels ketchup is a bit on the spicy side?

  • Add it to tea or juice

  • Use as a marinade or salad dressing

  • Splash over rice

And, finally, HERE is my second video ever made...on how to make a Fire Oxymel. Again, please don't laugh!

Current Deals and What’s new?

November Box - This box ships in 2 weeks, so order soon. I have 5 left as of right now! I “played” with my herbs A LOT this week and am STOKED about this month! Use code: NovBox for your free shipping. (Remember - free shipping includes everything shipped with your box!)


3 NEW Balms being released THIS week: Owie Yowie - for general use cuts, scrapes and boo boos

All The Itchies - for bites, stings and itchy rashes

Oh My Achey - for general aches and pains in muscles and joints


And coming soon...one word: tallow :)



Thanks for joining me this week! See you next time.

~Allie