TikTok health nuts are loving fire cider, a new spicy beverage that claims to boost your immunity. But does science back up the hype?
The hashtag #firecider has over 7.4 million views on TikTok. The drink mixes ingredients like apple cider vinegar, garlic, ginger, horseradish, onions and cayenne pepper for an effect that is sweet, pungent, sour and hot. The concoction is said to boost the immune system, prevent colds and aid digestion. Here’s the real truth.
What is fire cider?
Fire cider is the name of a tonic coined by herbalist Rosemary Gladstar in the 1970s. The drink is a blend of apple cider vinegar with herbs and spices that are supposed to improve the immune system. Since Gladstar introduced fire cider there have been numerous versions of the drink.
“It is immune supportive, it is anti-inflammatory,” she explained. “It’s essentially a tonic that you’re going to steep all of these ingredients together in an organic apple cider vinegar that still has the mother.”
She placed onion, jalapenos, orange, lemon, garlic, ginger root, rosemary, ancho chile, guajillo chile, serrano pepper, horseradish, rosemary, thyme, turmeric, cinnamon and cayenne in a jug with apple cider vinegar.
“You let that steep for four weeks and then you strain that off and add raw honey and take it as a tonic,” she said. “In the season of colds and flus, I’m going to use everything I got.”
Does fire cider really boost the immune system?
According to Healthline, “boosting” your immune system is not possible and if it were, it wouldn’t be a good sign. An overactive immune system indicates an underlying illness rather than good health.
While there are no specific studies about fire cider, many of its ingredients have been tested for their health benefits.
Apple cider vinegar has been shown to have antibacterial properties. However, there is no evidence that it can combat the kinds of bacteria and viruses that cause the cold, flu or other conditions.
A study showed garlic was able to reduce the symptoms of a cold but not prevent the cold itself. Similarly, honey can ease symptoms like a sore throat and cough but is not effective at preventing colds altogether.
Cayenne pepper might have antibacterial and antiviral properties that can aid the immune system but no studies have proven the case in humans. Meanwhile, there’s no research or evidence to support any of the immune system claims behind the remaining ingredients like horseradish, onions, ginger and rosemary.
Does fire cider really improve digestion?
Research has shown ginger can be a safe remedy for nausea, vomiting and an upset stomach. It can also help indigestion by improving gastric emptying, the speed at which food passes through the stomach.
Apple cider vinegar, however, can have the opposite effect. It contains acetic acid which can slow down gastric emptying and cause bloating and gas.
While it may seem harmless to include herbal remedies into your regimen, always consult a doctor first.
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