Fire cider is a tonic containing many spicy ingredients. It is an alternative medicine that proponents claim may have many potential health benefits. However, more research into fire cider benefits is necessary.

Some people might consider trying fire cider due to its numerous purported health benefits. Others may simply enjoy the flavor and consume it as a beverage or dressing.

Although fire cider does contain many ingredients that may be associated with health benefits, no research has yet proven these claims.

This article discusses fire cider, including its benefits, its potential side effects, and how to make it.

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Fire cider is a type of oxymel, which is an herbal remedy. Its name comes from the ancient Greek word oxymeli, which means acid and honey.

Folk herbalist and founder of the California School of Herbal Studies, Rosemary Gladstar, coined the term fire cider and its particular recipe in the late 1970s.

The tonic contains apple cider vinegar (ACV), honey, and several other ingredients that may help support health and wellness.

Since it is a folk recipe, there are countless variations in its ingredients. However, aside from ACV and honey, all fire cider recipes typically include five other basic ingredients: horseradish, ginger, chili peppers, garlic, and onion. People can also add other ingredients, such as turmeric, citrus, and herbs.

People may use fire cider as a natural remedy against the flu and common colds. Additionally, people may consider fire cider to help relieve nasal congestion, support digestion, warm the body during cold seasons, and boost immunity.

There is currently no research that supports the health benefits purportedly associated with fire cider.

However, many people use this folk remedy due to a host of potential benefits that relate to its ingredients. The sections below look at some of these potential benefits in more detail.


ACV is a popular ingredient in many alternative medicines due to its potential antibacterial and antioxidant properties.

A 2021 in vitro study suggests that ACV can kill both methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and resistant Escherichia coli. These two bacteria are resistant to many treatments and infections, and they can cause life threatening complications.

Some evidence also suggests that combining ACV with a restricted calorie diet may be an effective strategy for improving body composition, reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels, improving visceral adiposity index, and increasing “good” cholesterol in people with obesity.


Similar to ACV, people have used honey for centuries due to its health benefits — specifically its antimicrobial and antibacterial effects. Raw honey can help with allergies, soothe a sore throat, and is rich in antioxidants.

One 2020 study suggests that honey could offer health benefits in the diet due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.


Many people may use ginger as a home remedy for pain and inflammation. It may help soothe an upset stomach, relieve nausea, and help lower blood sugar levels. Some people use it to relieve the symptoms of arthritis, muscle pain, and menstrual cramps.

One 2019 study suggests that ginger can improve rheumatoid arthritis by decreasing disease activity by expressing immunity and inflammation genes.


People may use horseradish to address sinus problems, common colds, coughs, urinary and respiratory tract infections, and kidney stones. People may also use horseradish to boost their immunity.

A 2021 study suggests that a recombinant variant of an enzyme isolated from horseradish may have a potential use in targeted cancer treatment.


Onion is a common household ingredient that some evidence suggests may help reduce the risk of stomach and colorectal cancers. Onion is also a good source of vitamin C, which is essential for skin and hair health, as it helps produce and maintain collagen levels.

One 2021 study suggests that onion extract is a promising anticancer agent, either as a protective agent or combined with chemotherapy as a treatment.


People may use garlic to help treat or prevent a vast range of conditions, including atherosclerosis, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, and certain types of cancers.

A 2021 study suggests that garlic-derived small extracellular vesicles have anticancer effects and may be an alternative cancer treatment.

Chili pepper

Similar to the other ingredients, chili pepper — specifically the compound capsaicin, which is present in chili peppers — may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities. It may also help improve circulation, alleviate pain, and improve metabolism and digestion.

A 2020 systematic review and meta-analysis indicates that consuming chili pepper may help reduce the risk of death due to heart disease and cancer.

Other ingredients

As well as the ingredients above, some herbalists include other elements — such as citrus fruits, turmeric, rosemary, thyme, and cinnamon — in their recipes.

People may use turmeric for arthritis pain, weight loss, and digestive issues. One 2019 review suggests that curcumin, which is turmeric’s active component, has anticancer potential. However, more research is underway to validate its effectiveness.

Citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges contain antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and increase weight loss. Thyme may help boost brain function and memory, while rosemary may be useful for improving mood and decreasing anxiety.

Just as there is no evidence to support consuming fire cider for health benefits, there are also no reported risks associated with it. However, there are potential side effects related to its ingredients.

ACV is highly acidic, so it may cause stomach irritation or worsen acid reflux. The American Dental Association also mentions that prolonged contact with acidic foods such as ACV could wear away the enamel of teeth, leading to teeth sensitivity and cavities.

Learn about the side effects of ACV here.

Taking turmeric may cause stomach upset, nausea, or diarrhea. Unpasteurized honey may contain bacteria and toxins that may be harmful to a fetus or young child.

To be sure that fire cider is safe for them, people who are living with digestive or metabolic disorders, are pregnant, are nursing, or are taking medications should consult a doctor before consuming it.

Since fire cider is a tonic remedy, there are many variations of how to make it. People can add and change the proportions of the ingredients to suit their tastes and preferences.

The fire cider ingredients and recipe listed below are based on Gladstar’s recipe for making fire cider.


  • fresh horseradish
  • onion
  • garlic
  • fresh ginger
  • powdered or fresh cayenne pepper
  • honey
  • raw, unpasteurized ACV


  1. Take equal parts of horseradish, onion, and garlic and half part of ginger to prevent it from overpowering the rest of the flavors. Chop the horseradish, onion, garlic, and fresh ginger. Place them into a glass canning jar, then fill the jar with the ACV.
  2. Once filled, add one-fourth of powdered cayenne pepper or more to taste. It should be hot but tolerable. Close the lid and blend everything. Use parchment paper or wax paper under the cap if it is metal to prevent the vinegar from causing the metal lid to rust.
  3. Store the mixture in a cool, dry cabinet for about 4 weeks. Do not store it for longer than this, as the vinegar may further break down the ingredients, which may cause the mixture to turn opaque and thick. Storing it for a while allows the mixture to infuse. Individuals may check and shake the jar once per day.
  4. Once the mixture has infused, strain the pulp out using a cheesecloth. Add honey to taste and blend well until it mixes thoroughly to create a hot, sweet, sour, and spicy tonic. Some variations to this recipe include adding lemons, oranges, and herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and star anise. People can add these ingredients along with the base ingredients.

Serving suggestions

Anecdotally, people usually take 1–2 tablespoons daily as an immune booster. However, people who find the tonic strong can dilute it in a glass of water. Some people may only take it if they feel a cold coming or to help warm themselves up during the winter season.

Individuals can use the tonic as part of their daily nutrition. Many people may use it as a salad dressing, vinaigrette, or add-on to teas, soups, and stews. It can also add flavor to cooked foods. Some people also add it to cocktails.

Fire cider is a natural tonic that some people suggest may improve health. Although there are studies that support the benefits of its ingredients, there is currently no evidence as to the benefits of fire cider itself.

There are also no known side effects in pregnant people, people who are breastfeeding, or people with underlying conditions such as diabetes. However, these groups should still inform a doctor before taking fire cider in order to prevent any potential complications.