Best Health

FIRE CIDER

- Photograph­y by DONNA GRIFFITH | food styling by ASHLEY DENTON

iKNOW I ALWAYS FEATURE A single ingredient in this column, but it’s holiday time and sometimes rules are made to be broken. Fire cider isn’t a one-ingredient wonder – instead it's a potent concoction of ingredient­s that will undoubtedl­y offer you health insurance as you make your way through the festive season.

While your friends are throwing back shots of booze, you can show them who’s the cool (and very wise) kid in town by sharing your homemade fire cider brew, made of onions, garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper, horseradis­h and apple cider vinegar. They will stand back, either in awe or because of the smell emanating from you.

Not only is this combo unpleasant to the nose but some might also consider it painful to consume – hence the name “fire cider” or “unicorn love potion.” We mean business here.

THE GOODS

You’re likely to find variations on this traditiona­l folk remedy available on websites or at local farmers’ markets. It’s simple to make: Combine the aforementi­oned ingredient­s and let the mix infuse for two or three weeks. Together, these ingredient­s create a supertonic for the immune system and, though it may not be the most delicious concoction, it works. I have to say, the first time I drank it, I kind of hated the person who poured it for me. Over time, though, I’ve developed a taste for it – and even grown to love it. You will, too – maybe.

THE BOOST

On their own, onions, garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper, horseradis­h and apple cider vinegar boast antiviral, antibacter­ial, antifungal and immune-boosting properties. When we combine them in this tonic, the power becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

Garlic and onions have long been studied for their beneficial effects on the immune system. Both have also been shown to have anti-diabetic properties, improve the health of your heart and arteries and help prevent cancer. Cayenne pepper helps promote circulatio­n in the body and has been shown to have strong antifungal benefits. Horseradis­h can also help promote circulatio­n, prevent urinary tract infections, protect your DNA and – especially relevant during the holiday season – shorten the duration of flu. Ginger can also help to remedy stomach upset, promote digestion and reduce nausea. All of these ingredient­s infuse their medicinal benefits into apple cider vinegar – a tonic that has anti-tumour properties, protects against free radical damage to the kidneys and liver (two important detox organs) and antifungal benefits.

Though a spoonful of sugar may help the medicine go down, there is no sugar invited to this folk remedy party. The potency of these roots and herbs gets the job done! If you’ve ever done a shot of alcohol in your life, you’ve got this covered.

THE PLAN

Brew up your own right away – I’m talking today. It takes a few weeks for it to infuse fully, so the sooner you have some ready to go, the better.

Consistenc­y is key with any natural remedy, and it’s typically recommende­d that you have a shot of this tonic once a day on an empty stomach for prevention or up to three times a day to kick that cold (or hangover) to the curb.

Though you may be tempted to dilute this tonic water, don’t do it. The power is in the potency. If you’re suffering from stomach ulcers or gut inflammati­on, consult with your healthcare practition­er. If you’re pregnant, it’s best to avoid this tonic altogether.

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