Cold and Flu “Master Tonic”

When you're starting to feel "under the weather," whip up this tonic to absorb all the health benefits.

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 soothe 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: Nature’s 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, it’s like putting a little ibuprofen in the tonic….only it’s not ibuprofen, it’s 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 body eliminate toxins. Plus, it helps strengthen the immune system, promotes digestion, and relieves sore throats, colds, and sinus infections.
Cold and Flu “Master Tonic”

Cold and Flu “Master Tonic”

When you're starting to feel "under the weather," whip up this tonic to absorb all the health benefits.


  • 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


    1. Wash and chop all of the ingredients. (Make sure to peel the horseradish first.)
    2. Put everything into a high-powered blender.
    3. Add apple cider vinegar and blend until smooth.
    4. Put into a large glass jar.
    5. Cover with lid.
    6. It should be shaken once daily while infusing.
    7. Cover with a towel and let it sit for 4 (or more) weeks on the counter.
    8. Then strain through a mesh strainer and put back into a glass container.
    9. Store in the refrigerator
    10. Should last up to 2 years in the fridge (seriously, what bugs dare proliferate in it?!)

How to Use:

    1. Gargle and swallow. Don’t dilute with water.
    2. Take 2-4 Tbsp, three times daily at the first signs of a cold.
    3. 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!)
    4. 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!)

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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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103 Replies to “Cold and Flu “Master Tonic””

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

  2. 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. 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!

      1. I tried dehydrating last year and made the mistake of trying to do it in the house! Super strong smell! If you do this, I strongly suggest you do it outside.

  4. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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!

      1. 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?

        1. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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?

    1. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

    1. 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. 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. 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.

  21. This is a great idea to blend instead of finely chopping all the ingredients!! Would definitely save a lot of time;) My question is did you notice any difference in it’s effects blended vs chopped? And my second question is I have a very high speed blender (a commercial waring, similar to a vitamix) and it blends thoroughly… No pulp left (when I make green smoothies with a head of kale or something) though I have never added ACV to blended soups/smoothies and let sit… So perhaps it would separate then?? Will I still be able to create this with a high speed blender?

  22. Hello! Just finished my first jar (well, had to split it into two), and I’m wondering. You say it needs to be shaken daily, yet covered with a towel. Can I keep a plastic lid on the jars while it’s covered with the towel? Is the towel just to keep light out of it?

    Thank you! Also, I used all green colored hot peppers–making mine a green tint rather than the reddish tint you have. Is this an issue? Haha, silly question, but I’m curious.

    1. Yeah the towel is just to keep the light off. You can miss shaking it some days, not too strict on that. The color totally doesn’t matter. 🙂

  23. I made mine 1 month ago. This is my second year I have made it. It was ready on the 9th of November. I took some the first day and my daughter could smell me coming. She was not happy. So I skipped the next few days. Yesterday, November 19, I began to experience the first signs of the flu. I refuse a flu shot. So, I am feeling miserable, right. So I took a shot glass full of the tonic. Nothing else. No meds. Within a few hours, the symptoms were gone. Woke up this morning, no symptoms. Took another dose. I am going to play it safe. I don’t care if I smell. Rather that than getting the flu. I am almost 79 years old. By the way, I have 4 quarts of tonic. I really plan to play it safe!!!

  24. Hi,

    Just about to make my first batch, but I can’t find fresh Horseradish root anywhere. Is there anything else I can use or just leave it out and will it be still effective without it? Thanks

    1. You could pick up a jar of horseradish at the store. I know Trader Joes has a great one thats only horseradish root and vinegar. Check the label thought, you don’t want any other ingredients in there.

  25. Some have asked what to do withbpulp. I freeze it in ice cube trays then put in freezer bags add to chili and soups when cooking.

  26. I made my Master Tonic last year and have several quarts left. They have been on my kitchen counter since, supporting a narrow shelf that holds other things. Is it still safe to consume this winter? Thank you.

      1. Hi Kate. I placed two posts re the Master Tonic. In November 2015 and in December 2016. I had made about 4 quarts. There was no need for me to take it the last year (2017) but this morning I got hit with flu symptoms. I immediately starting straining the jars I had left over from December 2016. I took Master Tonic, which I had made back in 2015. I think I took a little too much, because I all of a sudden became very nauseated. It slowly went away. Then I placed 5 drops of Hydrogen Peroxide in my ear, and lay down on the other ear. Flat. No pillow. After ten minutes, I drained it. Did the other ear. The nausea went away. Drank a lot of Turkey broth, as hot as I could stand. I started perspiring quite a bit. It is now almost 10.00pm and the symptoms I had this morning are gone. So, apparently, there is a long shelf life. I am going to be 81 at the end of this month. Refuse to have flu shots and haven’t had the flu in a long time, nor a cold. I do the Hydrogen Peroxide bit at the first sign of a cold. This information I found on the mercola website. Works like a charm. Oh, by the way: When I made my Master Tonic I put several turmeric roots in the mixture. Thank you for listening. You are to be praised for this. Wish I could convince all my friends about this wonderful remedy.

  27. Hi Kate!!! finally I’ve got round to making some of this magic potion! i’m looking to add organic turmeric powder from a health shop – not cheap cooking turmeric! and also a jar of nice Manuka honey – making a double batch since it took me 6 months to finally get round to it!! – do you think this will help and add to the health benefits? kindest regards Chris

    1. Definitely! I would add the honey to each serving as you take it though. It might add a weird fermentation if you just leave it in there.

  28. We call this Fire cider due to the heat. I’m the only one in the house who will take it. It must work as I rarely ever get sick. I have never put it in the fridge, though. The vinegar does a good job of preserving it.

  29. Pretty sure I see mold on the inside of the lid? Black gunk in the corners and a blue/green spotted look to the lid centers. Is this mold or safe to consume? Smells good, the strained vinegar is cloudy light brown and my veggies were chopped/shredded fine, so some would rise to the top or above the acv. I shook daily. I’m saving it for now until someone gives me some advice! I’ll start a new batch this weekend with bigger chunks and a weight. Hate to have wasted so much time and organic veggies :(.

  30. I just made my first batch about a week ago. I could not wait 2-4 weeks before I tried it. So I tried it after a couple of days. Turns out I actually don’t mind the taste. I love hot Spivey food and have eaten raw garlic for years. I didn’t know about the draining part, so I have been adding 2-3 spoons of the pure/vinegar on my food. Eg on rice, pasta, salads, dips, etc. I even added it to a grilled cheese. It actually tastes really good. I am feeling good and a bit energized as well however it’s only been a few days. I’m sure I’ll feel even better in a week or so
    I am wondering if anyone has noticed any weight loss? as this tonic really pushes out the toxins in your body. I know it’s working cause yesterday I had a really bad headache, a sign when your doing a body cleanse.
    Thank you for sharing this recipe and input; I look forward to being sick free for a very long time.

    1. So glad you like it. I actually really like it too, gives my digestion an immediate boost! I am not sure that I have noticed weight loss with it, but when one detoxes weight loss is a natural progression….so it would make sense! Keep me posted! 🙂

  31. Some of the garlic in my two jars started turning a blueish color. I assume it is mold. Has anyone else experienced this? Is it safe to consume?

    I put one in the fridge after 2 days and the mold stayed on a few pieces of garlic. In the other jar most of the garlic turned blue.

  32. Thank you for this recipe!! I am on my second batch and doubled it this time! lol I was wondering what the actual length of the “infusing” stage should be? I could not find the info on it, so I did 10 days and shaking it everyday during that time. Then went on to cover it with a towel for 6 weeks. Seemed to work last time, but I was curious how long you infuse yours? Thanks so much!!

      1. So it’s a total of 12 weeks? Sorry to sound stupid…directions say”Cover with lid, it should be shaken once daily while infusing. Cover with towel and let sit for 4 or more weeks on the counter.” Am I missing something? Lol Thanks 😉

  33. I’ve read the posts and don’t see any mention of fermenting from “New Moon to Full Moon”. I’ve always done it this way; is it really important??

    I love this stuff, and notice when I’ve feeling ‘off’, or just have no energy, I’ll take a TBS, or two and in about 20 minutes I definitely feel better!!!

    1. I have not heard that before, but I am a firm believer in the phases of the moon influencing our health so I think there definitely could be something to that!

  34. Making this and need a little clarity. All made up and in the jar. Do I leave the lid on and cover with towel so I can shake it up daily? Or leave lid off and cover with towel, then put the lid on to shake up daily?

  35. I knew to keep the lid on to shake up. I guess I wasn’t clear with my question. How long do I need to shake it daily, a few days, the entire four week? Also when you cover it with a towel, do you leave the lid off so if can breathe?

  36. This is my 3rd year making this tonic and my latest batch I strained today for use just in time as I need it. This time I let it steep for 6 weeks and I find a flavor to be very mellow than what I was expecting. This tonic is so important for me to have in my house at all times that I have put it on my calendar so I can remember to gather the ingredients and have time for it to steep before the flu season starts. I have shared with many & always tell them it is not for the faint in heart. I even have some at work so I can jump right on combatting sickness when I need it and not wait until I get home. This is a keeper for me and I thank you.

  37. All made! Do I leave the lid off and cover with a towel and just put the lid on to shake daily? Or let it sit with the lid on? I make my kombucha with the lid off- just the towel. Just clarifying. Thanks!

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