Fire Cider : Using Food as Medicine

Last month, Portland Healing Space held a Fire Cider Party, where we made this fiery concoction. This class was part of our Wise Medicine Evening series led by PHS owner, acupunturist and holistic pelvic care practitioner, Danielle Lombardi, who is also a trained herbalist in Chinese medicine. 

If you haven't tried Fire Cider before, this is the perfect time. At Portland Healing Space we love to make this potent drink in the fall so that we can sip on it as an immune booster throughout the winter. You can find the recipe on our blog and also pick up a recipe card from our front desk.

Fire cider is a delicious, spicy, sweet, and savory medicinal drink that really packs a punch! The history of fire cider can be traced back to around 400bc, when Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, often prescribed a blend of vinegar and honey, also known as an oxymel, as medicine for wound healing and a variety of illnesses. The oxymel is the base for what is now known as fire cider.

Later, during the times of the Later, during the times of the bubonic plague, another vinegar-based medicine, that came to be known asFour Thieves Vinegar was used to protect against infection. This brew was a potent combination of vinegar, garlic, and other herbs that was said to be invented by the 4 thieves of Marseilles, who used it successfully to survive the plague.

Over time, based on personal preferences, and depending on what was readily available to harvest, many different herbs and spices have been added to this base to create remedies for many conditions.

This ever-evolving folk medicine was made popular in the United States in the early 1980s by the master herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, who is thought to have coined the term "fire cider" and who loved to encourage the use of food as medicine in her teachings and publications.

Fire Cider is an infusion of herbs, spices, veggies, honey, and raw apple cider vinegar that helps to boost the immune system, promote energy, fight off colds and flus, treat heartburn and sinus issues and increase circulation. It is also an antibacterial, anti fungal, antiviral powerhouse.

Once your Fire Cider has had time to cure (usually 3-6 weeks), you pour off the liquid and use that infusion for medicine. The amount of infusion you collect depends upon how much room is in the jar once it's packed with ingredients. Once you've poured off the medicine, be sure to save all those ingredients that you carefully prepared! You can cover them again with apple cider and let them steep for another 3-6 week for a more mellow infusion. Or, you can puree the ingredients to make curries, salsas and additives for soups and other recipes.

Fire Cider can be taken as a daily supplement, either in a small dosage (1 teaspoon or tablespoon) or for the brave of heart as a daily shot. It can also be celebrated for its culinary benefits. Fire cider is a delicious addition to soups, sauces, marinades, and salad dressings.  It has also been used as a unique flavor profile in the art of cocktail mixology.

Whatever way you take it, its a great way to light your fire as we head into the winter season.