Trying to ward off a cold? TikTok’s wellness gurus swear by fire cider, (also known as fire tonic), a spicy concoction made of veggies, herbs and other spices. They say it has preventative properties, with the ability to keep illness at bay.
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But does it actually work? Registered dietitian Beth Czerwony, RD, explains what fire cider is and whether it’s worth trying.
Traditionally, herbal tonics are medicinal drinks meant to invigorate you and help you get or stay well. Throughout history, various cultures have turned to tonics to promote general wellbeing.
But what is fire cider, specifically? This spicy swill blends all-natural ingredients said to have immune-boosting properties. The thinking is that when these healthy ingredients band together, they create a super-beverage of sorts — a mega-healthy drink that can prevent you from getting sick.
But there’s a catch: There’s no evidence that it works.
“There’s nothing to show that fire cider is beneficial. Food fads like this always come back revamped and tweaked a little to make them look more sensational,” Czerwony says, “but the bottom line is that they just don’t really do anything for you.”
People who sing the praises of fire cider say it can build a healthy immune system and help fend off sickness, but there’s no research to confirm that belief. None of the ingredients in fire cider have been proven to have the power to prevent illness.
“Many of the ingredients have been shown to have health benefits independently,” Czerwony says, “but there’s no greater health benefit when we add these products together.”
The ingredients themselves are healthy and, as such, they do have known health benefits. But you’ll get more benefits from consuming them on their own, rather than in daily shots of fire cider (and again, none of them can prevent you from getting sick).
Fire cider is made with a number of spicy, acidic foods that may upset your stomach, particularly if you’ve got a sensitive digestive system.
“Honestly, it’s probably going to cause more harm than good,” Czerwony says. “If you have health issues like acid reflux or indigestion, this combination of ingredients is likely going to make it worse.”
If you’re dead-set on drinking fire cider, though, tamp down the spice by diluting it with water or following it up with a bit of milk (which will also relieve the burning-mouth feeling that spicy foods can cause).
If you looked up fire cider hoping to prevent illness, you may be a little disappointed right now. But don’t be: There’s still plenty you can do to boost your immune system and stay well this winter and beyond. To start:
Don’t count on fire cider to give your body any kind of true immunity boost. For that, you’ll need to take a more holistic approach to your wellness.