Health and Healing Through Making Fire Cider and Taking Time

What is Fire Cider?

Fire Cider is an immunity-boosting tonic that offers medicinal benefits through infusing apple cider vinegar with roots and herbs. It’s spicy, tangy, warming, and circulation-inducing. Through the years, I have made countless batches of this tonic, and the process has offered lessons to guide some of my healing from (sexual) trauma. Food has become a pillar of my healing process and while there is no formula for wellness, perhaps some parallels exist between you and me. 

Where it All Began.

There was a time in my adult life when I was always coming down with something: the flu, a cold, burn out. If I were to do as much as lean in the direction of over-exertion, I would find myself debilitated. I felt as though I was losing time to the restrictions of my body, which left me hopeless and fearful.

After several years of this discomfort, and many visits to the doctor, my frustration guided me to seek a natural immunity-booster. Thanks in large part to my mother, nutrition was not entirely foreign to me. When I was a kid, she overcame breast cancer, and after completing chemotherapy and going into remission, she performed an overhaul of our home. She replaced synthetic and processed ingredients with whole and natural ingredients. At the time, my participation in this change plateaued with merely following along. It wasn’t until I was 26 that I began searching for natural remedies. It was then that I discovered Fire Cider and became reacquainted with the lifestyle my mother shared with me in my youth.

This recipe has helped shape my path of holistic healing from trauma. It led me to discover the benefits of food, moving meditation, and engagement in a process. It revealed the power of showing up for myself and connecting to my familial roots. Here I am, six years later, and I am still making this powerfully, pungent concoction.

Mason jars filled with chopped ingredients

PTSD and Immunity.

It wasn’t long after I began making Fire Cider that I found a therapist and discovered I had been living with PTSD from trauma. The constant stress and panic-inducing triggers were both, directly and indirectly, contributing to my weakened immune system. While the stress from triggers suppresses immunity, living with (undiagnosed) PTSD can often cause individuals to self-medicate. In my case, I was using alcohol, cigarettes, and other stimulants to find equilibrium, but they were causing harm and suffering in conjunction with my spastic nervous system. My healing journey from trauma has been long and nonlinear, but I hope to share bits and pieces that can aid in your healing process. 

Healing in More Ways Than One

There are lessons of healing everywhere, even in food. Fire Cider introduced me to new ingredients and helped me gain insight into the nutrients and healing properties of whole foods. It was a gateway into solutions that are natural, nourishing, around me, and within me.

When I began making this recipe, it encouraged me to dig deeper into the natural and whole ingredient choices that my mother shared with me in my youth. She planted the seed, and although it took time for it to flower, my hunt for natural remedies, for my then suppressed immune system, reminded me of that seed. If I couldn’t make sense of it then, I can make sense of it now, and this discovery reminds me to stay alert for wisdom that continues to present itself.

Chopped ingredients (clockwise from top left): ginger, turmeric, garlic, habanero pepper, oregano, rosemary, parsley, horseradish, onion, peppercorns

Furthermore, this process is a moving meditation. The washing, peeling, and chopping of roots and herbs makes space for presence and thoughtfulness while in motion. The smells, colors, textures, and moving hands calm my nervous system by bringing me into my body and the moment. Presence leads to tranquility, which can contribute to a healthy immune system.

This recipe led me to my love for cooking. It showed me how to nourish myself, experience the joy of food, and share it with others. Time spent preparing food has connected me to my mother and my grandmother, two women who often show(ed) love for their family with food. The warmth that filled me up in my youth is now a means to my inner peace. 

Fire Cider and Time.

To be forthright, this recipe takes time, not only in the physical work but in the waiting. The jar, filled with ingredients, will infuse on the shelf for several weeks, and be a reminder of wellness. Whenever I have a jar soaking in my pantry, I walk in and spot this labor of love on my shelf, and it’s a powerful reminder that I can make choices that lift me. Staying connected to the process has taught me to stay involved with my wellness. New habits and practices take time to develop, and a simple jar on the shelf is a nudge in a new direction. This project is manageable, and has helped me move into a conscious, thoughtful, and present lifestyle to the best of my ability. 

Raising Self-Awareness.

Once the infusion is complete, I have a jar of beautifully bright liquid created for my immune system. If I am fatigued or feel a tickle in my throat, I consume a one-ounce shot a few times a day. Having something (natural) waiting for me when these moments arise has created space for me to check in with myself. If a tickle occurs in my throat, it will not guarantee that I end up “sick.” In time, I learned that this was a little flag, which marks a moment to take inventory of my needs. Do I need more rest? More water? Do I need to sit in silence? Do I need to drink Fire Cider?

I am not here to say that modern medicine and therapy should not play a role in our lives, but rather, we are resilient and capable of more than we know. The earth is a valuable resource that offers many answers, and we are a part of that earth, with the knowledge and resources to heal. 

If this recipe calls to you, enjoy! If this one isn’t for you, what other recipe is calling your name?

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