Cold and Flu “Master Tonic”

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Cold & Flu Master Tonic | Real Food RN

Working in the hospital and pushing pills has made me never want to take them myself. So, when anyone in our household has the first signs of a cold I put on my witch-doctor cap and make up some potion or tonic. Enter the Master Tonic. You will find different variations of this recipe all over the web, but I have created my own with unique health-giving properties and quite a PUNCH! Try some….if you dare!

First, a bit about the health benefits that come from the ingredients in this amazing tonic….

Health benefits:

  • Ginger: Has a wonderful warming effect on the body, which causes us to sweat and expel toxins. Ginger is also known to sooth the gastrointestinal tract. Ginger enhances blood flow…and can even thin the blood, so talk with your doctor if you are already on a blood thinner
  • Horseradish: Ever eaten a spoonful of wasabi paste on a dare? Yeah me neither….why would anyone do that! Ahem. If you had, you would know the sensation of instant sinus shock, they clear up immediately. That’s why it’s in this tonic. Bu-bye stuffy nose…..right now!
  • Onions: Onions are a rich source of the antioxidant Quercitin, which is anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antiviral, thought to have diverse anti-cancer powers
  • Garlic: Natures antibiotic, anti-viral, and anti-fungal! It can also enhance blood flow…and can even thin the blood, so talk with your doctor if you are already on a blood thinner
  • Jalapeños: The active ingredient in peppers (capsaicin) is a well known pain reliever. Peppers are also anti-inflammatory. So, in effect its like putting a little ibuprofen in the tonic….only its not ibuprofen, its peppers. Save your stomach from the NSAID stomach rot! They actually help your digestion too. Winning!
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Unless you have been living under a rock, you may have heard of the many, many, many uses and benefits of apple cider vinegar. Well, aside from being a great furniture polish and hair rinse, it also helps your bode eliminate toxins. Plus, it helps strengthen the immune system, promotes digestion, and relieves sore throats, colds, and sinus infections.


  • 3 inch piece of fresh ginger root
  • 3 inch piece of fresh horseradish root, peeled
  • 2 large organic white onions, peeled and quartered
  • 3 large heads of garlic, peeled (not 3 cloves….3 HEADS!)
  • 8-10 organic jalapeños (or any hot pepper you prefer), stems removed
  • 1 (32 oz.) bottle raw apple cider vinegar (where to find)

Cold & Flu Master Tonic | Real Food RN

Make sure to peel the horseradish first…..

Cold & Flu Master Tonic | Real Food RN


Cold & Flu Master Tonic | Real Food RN

  • Add apple cider vinegar and blend until smooth

Cold & Flu Master Tonic | Real Food RN

Cold & Flu Master Tonic | Real Food RN

Cold & Flu Master Tonic | Real Food RN

  • Cover with lid
  • It should be shaken once daily while infusing
  • Cover with a towel and let it sit for 4 (or more) weeks on the counter

Cold & Flu Master Tonic | Real Food RN

  • Then strain through a mesh strainer and put back into glass container

Cold & Flu Master Tonic | Real Food RN

  • Store in the refrigerator
  • Should last up to 2 years in the fridge (seriously, what bugs dare proliferate in it?!)

How to use: 

  • Gargle and swallow. Don’t dilute with water.
  • Take 2-4 Tbsp, three times daily at the first signs of a cold
  • If you’re already sick then take it six times daily
  • It is safe for pregnant women and children in smaller doses (after all it’s just food!)
  • If you have trouble getting it down, try sweetening it up with honey or mixing it in with some juice/kombucha/bone broth (of course no honey for anyone under 1 year of age!)

So let’s just whip up a batch of this every flu season and opt out of the ‘ol flu shot, shall we? I sure wish I could pass this stuff out at the hospital!

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Cold & Flu Master Tonic | Real Food RN

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  1. Linda McCaffity says

    Would it make a difference if I use a yellow or purple onion? Also, are you leaving the seeds in the jalapenos?

  2. Tammi says

    This sounds spicy – if you are sensitive to spicy foods, would you be able to tolerate this? I’m thinking of my Littles (2 and 4yo).

  3. says

    Wish I’d seen this some time ago. As soon as I’m well again I’ll be hunting down the ingredients for a batch to brew. Asked my daughter to get some horseradish root and peppers yesterday but our small town didn’t have any. So excited that this will keep for some time once ready. Thank you!

  4. Karen says

    Try doTerra s On Guard Soft Gels. Much easier even more anti oxidants and also 100% pure food/plant base. Bet you can’t beat it for immune support! Using in hospitals (check out Vanderbuilt Univ Hospital/Doterra on you tube) to even kill MRSA. Also (aroma for more studies. Enjoy!

  5. Charlotte says

    I’ve read that you can use the left over pulp as a base for marinades, salad dressing, etc. Refrigerated, it’s supposed to last a long time. I make my first batch of Master Tonic yesterday–can’t wait to see the finished product!

  6. Susan says

    Made my first batch in September and we started taking it daily a couple of weeks ago. I love it! I know its crazy, but I could drink it by the glass! Yes, its hot, but so darn good! (I do sweeten mine with some raw, local honey) Just bought all the stuff to make some more because the 32 oz I have won’t last me long.

    I also wondered if a shot of it in a Bloody Mary would be good? I better go find out……

  7. says

    Have you done this with other juice mixtures? I would love to try some juice recipes out there but don’t have a juicer. So I’m intrigued by this method! (Plus know the benefits of fermentation are great!)

  8. Emily says

    Not sure I can find fresh horseradish can I used the shop bought jar instead? Also I have young kids don’t think they would be able to drink the tonic straight form the jar. If I was to dilute it to what ratios of tonic to water should I give them?

  9. Bev says

    If one cannot tolerate the “heat,” would putting small amounts in capsules and taking orally still give the desired beneficial effect? Love the idea but the recipe includes several of my least favorite things. Thanks for the recipes on your blog!

      • Melanie says

        Hello! I’ve been drinking this tonic and I just wanted a little clarity. In one post you say don’t mix with water but in this one you say you can. I currently take 2 tbsp for maintenence. I just started mixing it in fruit juice. Is that OK then?

        • says

          I don’t mix it with water when I take it, but if people can not tolerate it that way you can mix it. I have just read in other posts that it is better taken as is

  10. says

    I put my master tonic pulp in ice cube trays. Now have small cubes of amazing ‘flavor’ to add to stews and soups. Made the master tonic on a full moon and also strained it on a full moon (6 months later). Very potent stuff, indeed! Also put tumeric in my tonic. Thanks for posting! Love your posts!

  11. Eunice says

    maybe see if your chickens are interested in small amount of the pulp because i regulary give mine minced garlic as natural dewormer dont waste it lol

  12. says

    Love your blog. I made this this year for the first time (I’ve been meaning to for a few years). I was wondering, as a fellow RN, if you had any input on detox if you are forced to take a mandatory flu shot. In NY, here. It wasn’t mandated, but we do have to use masks if we opted out. Just want to be prepared should that change next year. Thanks!!

  13. Bev Neely says

    I made this it is almost ready but I’m already using since everyone in my classroom has a cold! My question is why strain it I’ve been taking it with the pulp?

    • says

      You can take it with the pulp too, I just like to have a nice strained tonic in the fridge. I feel like the pulp will not last as long, but I could be wrong.

  14. Lynette says

    Just came across your blog. I just delivered 2 weeks ago and I have congestion, no voice, cough and wheezing in lungs. It all came on in the hospital after delivery, my hemoglobin went way down during labor and delivery. My immune system was probably really delicate at the time. It was a long intense labor. I am breastfeeding. Is there anything I can make now that does not take 4 weeks to ferment? It has been 2 weeks and I just can’t get over this.

  15. says

    When it says 'shaken once daily during infusion" is that referring to the month that you let it sit on the counter? shake every day?
    I was planning on using a bell jar (?) with a glass lid rather than screw on…will this still allow it to ferment properly?

  16. Jackie says

    I made this wonderful recipe but from another site which had turmeric root in it., I dehydrated my pulp, when dry I ground it up small portions at a time in a coffee grinder. I then put about a teaspoon at a time into a hot mug of water and a tad bit of Manuka honey, it makes for a great cup of tea when feeling ill.

  17. Inna s says

    Hello. I made this tonic and have been drinking it daily and I think it’s giving me really bad heartburn. I have Leaky Gut syndrome so maybe it’s making it worse? What do you think?

  18. Jeff says

    I see you comment about not having to “burp” it. So does this mean you didn’t take the top off daily to release the gases? You just shook the jar daily. I was concerned about the explosion factor as well.

    • says

      Every once in a while I loosen the lid to see if there is gas built up. I have never really had an issue with it. It does not ferment in the way that, say kombucha does.

  19. Dawn says

    Hi, I had a couple questions. I made mine with un peeled horseradish and regular ACV. Will it still work? Also is it ok to use if I keep finding rust along the lid and rim of jar?

  20. Jack says

    Can it be taken immediately? I just blended my first batch, but am needing something sooner than the two weeks I’m supposed to let it infuse.

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