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MEG Medicine Pantry: Winter Tonic

winter tonic

Winter is here, ushering most of us into the miserable throes of cold and flu season. Whether or not you get an annual flu shot, chances are that at some point between October and February, you’re going to wake up with a sore, scratchy throat or that telltale cough and sinus drainage that signals the onset of misery. When those mornings come, I’m well-prepared with a home remedy that works as well to prevent the symptoms as it does to treat them.

You have probably heard of an old folk remedy often known as “Fire Cider”. I have always called this remedy by that name, because that is what Rosemary Gladstar calls it, and she is the elder who taught me the basic recipe. In recent years, that phrase has been trademarked by a company, making it risky to use the name without risking legal ramifications. Because my recipe is a variation of what Rosemary taught, I decided to change what I call it to better reflect its use and to avoid confusion. Thus, my Winter Tonic was born.

Gathering the Ingredients

The ingredients of my Winter Tonic recipe aren’t set in stone, because I include some things when I have them in abundance and omit them when they’re not available. There are a few basic components that are always present, and they all share antifungal, antibiotic, and antiviral properties that are helpful for keeping ‘crud’ at bay.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Winter Tonic starts with good ol’ apple cider vinegar, the kind with the “mother”. Don’t waste your time or money on regular stuff; it’s not going have the same benefits and isn’t worth the effort. Look for the words raw and unfiltered. The amount you’ll need depends on how much tonic you want to make. I recommend that you start with at least 32 ounces of vinegar; that will give you enough tonic for one or two people for a couple of months of regular use.

They are packed with phytochemicals and Vitamin C that help to boost your immunity. For a 1 quart batch, you’ll need one medium to large onion, the type is up to you.

The allicin in garlic will help you fight off cold and flu symptoms. It’s antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungal properties are great immune boosters.

The stuff that gives horseradish its punch is called allyl isothiocyanate, or mustard oil. It’s a known antimicrobial.

The gingerol it contains is a powerful anti-inflammatory. It also boosts immunity and helps to clear the lymphatic system.

Found in hot peppers, capsaicin is what makes them hot. It’s a great natural pain reliever that can help with cluster headaches as well. Its heat in my Winter Tonic helps to open up your sinuses and clear head and chest congestion.

Other Ingredients
I will also usually add turmeric. There are other ingredients that can be used if they’re available, but those listed above are the most important ones in my concoctions. If desired, you can add agave or raw honey to the mix. Its sweetness will make the tonic a little easier to take, adding a plethora of health benefits at the same time. I also add a handful of fresh rosemary sprigs and a few peppercorns.

winter tonic 2

How It Is Done

The process is highly technical:

1. Chop up the ingredients.

2. Pack them into a jar or large container with a lid. Ideally, you’ll want to fill about half of the container with the produce.

3. Fill the container with raw apple cider vinegar and cover.

3. Let it sit for 30 days or more, stirring or shaking occasionally.

When a month has passed, you can strain off the produce and send it to the compost bin. The remaining liquid is Winter Tonic, and can be taken daily or as-needed for cold, flu, and seasonal allergy symptoms. I keep mine in a large glass dispenser on the kitchen counter, and don’t strain it. This allows me to add more vinegar to the jar if necessary to keep enough on hand for the whole season.

Disclaimer: This website does not provide medical advice. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Brandy January 7, 2018, 8:31 am

    I would love to make some of this! This is an incredible talent that you have here!

  • Brandy January 7, 2018, 8:34 am

    Where do I get your cook book at??

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