Published October 13, 2016
One of the tools which can help our immune system be as strong and resilient as possible, as well as...
— William Wilberforce
As we transition from summer into the fall and winter seasons, flu and cold outbreaks are to be expected. But what can you do to help prevent or reduce the symptoms of these common illnesses? Traditionally, herbal remedies have been used as immune boosting preventatives without interfering and altering your body’s natural immune system. Such remedies are still used in many cultures today to address certain ailments.
A popular traditional remedy, known as a vinegar or “master tonic,” is a homemade mixture of immune-boosting and antimicrobial herbs. Master tonic is used to help prevent infections and some people like to take it daily. The fresh ingredients and nutrients in the tonic are designed to kick start the immune system to resist or heal from illness.
The master tonic’s basic formula dates back to Medieval Europe. It usually consists of seven basic ingredients that serve as a natural anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-parasitical and anti-fungal formula. Although there are several variations of this tonic, the base ingredients include apple cider vinegar, garlic, ginger, horseradish root, onions, habanero peppers and turmeric.
Additional ingredients such as lemon and honey can also be added to taste. The tonic is prepared by blending everything together and leaving it to ferment at room temperature in an airtight jar for three to four weeks. At the end of the fermentation period, the liquid is strained off and moved to the fridge for storage. It can be taken as a daily tonic or as needed.
Following is a summary of the healing properties and health benefits of each of the natural ingredients in the master tonic.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is made using apples through a long and slow fermentation process producing rich bioactive components such as acetic acid, gallic acid, catechin, epicatechin and caffeic acid, which results in potent antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.1 The presence of probiotic bacteria in apple cider vinegar is believed to promote a healthy intestinal tract that aids to boost the immune system. Furthermore, the malic acid in apple cider vinegar is a strong antiviral that has the ability to prevent seasonal colds and viruses.2
Garlic, particularly in its raw form, has been praised for its healing power and medicinal uses for centuries. It is a natural antibiotic that contains over four hundred different vitamins, mineral components and antioxidants, all of which have several therapeutic properties. It is rich in phytoncides such as allicin which has a in a strong bacteriostatic effect that helps cure infections at a faster rate.3
Ginger has been used for medicinal purposes among many cultures for thousands of years. It is very effective in alleviating symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. Ginger is an excellent carminative (a substance which fosters the elimination of intestinal gas) and intestinal spasmolytic (a substance which soothes the intestinal tract).4 It also contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. This perhaps explains why osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis patients experience lesser levels of pain in their mobility when they consume ginger regularly.4
Laboratory tests have shown horseradish to contain antibacterial, antibiotic, anti-parasitic, anti-anemic and aperient properties.5 It has a high sulphur content, which likely contributes to its antibiotic properties. When used with other herbs, horseradish has been shown to help in healing from bronchitis, cellulitis, influenza, impetigo, pneumonia, sinusitis and strep throat.5 Various components in horseradish known as isothiocyanate and sinigrin are found to have antioxidant characteristics that strengthen the immune system and stimulate the production of white blood cells—the body’s main line of defense.5 Horseradish also has high levels Vitamin C, which boosts the immune system.5
Onions are rich in sulfur—the compound that is responsible for their strong odor.6 Sulfur is a powerful detox element that assists the body to release toxins. Foods naturally high in sulfur also help the body to detox from heavy metals like lead, arsenic and cadmium.6 Sulfuric compounds in onions play a role in cancer and heart disease prevention; therefore, act as an excellent immune-boosting food for general disease prevention.6
Habanero peppers are one of the spiciest peppers. Unripe green habaneros contain a significant amount of Vitamin C, much more than a serving of citrus fruit.7 Vitamin C is known to heal wounds and keep the immune system functioning normally. Capsaicin is the primary compound in habanero peppers. It stimulates blood flow throughout the body, which helps to relieve congestion usually associated with cold and sinus infections.7
A compound found in turmeric known as curcumin, is responsible for its bright color and a whole host of the health benefits attributed to the spice.8 Turmeric is considered a natural antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory in Ayurvedic medicine.9 It increases protein levels in the body that can protect the immune system from pathogens that attack it. Curcumin also possesses strong antiviral properties that have a direct effect on fighting influenza infections.9
While each of these ingredients provides their own unique health benefits, combining all of them into a master tonic creates a powerful remedy used in many cultures for healing and illness that should not be underestimated.
1 Mercola J. How Apple Cider Vinegar Can Change Your Life. Mercola.com Mar. 21, 2015.
2 Newsmax. Can Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar Boost Immunity? Newsmax Sept. 11, 2015.
3 Du Toit A. Nature’s Most Powerful Antibiotics – The Master Tonic. Thetruthinsideofyou.org May 15, 2015.
4 The World’s Healthiest Foods. Ginger. Whfoods.org Oct. 5, 2011.
5 Organic Facts. Health Benefits of Horseradish. Organic Facts.
6 Group E. Will Onions Help Fight the Flu? Global Healing Center Nov. 14, 2009.
7 Ipatenco S. Are Habaneros Good For Your Health? Healthy Eating SF Gate.
8 Klein S. 6 Health Benefits of Turmeric. The Huffington Post Oct. 18, 2014.
9 Bond O. Turmeric and the Flu. LiveStrong.com Aug. 16, 2013.