A Fiery Perspective

by heather in community integrity at January 29, 2014

Fire Cider

Fire cider is a winter tonic that helps ward off colds and flus. Almost every herbalist I know makes their own variation, whether it is simply for their family or for resale. Fire cider is the people’s medicine. The recipes have been shared throughout the generations to benefit all. In a surprising turn of events, the term had been granted as a trademark to a small company in Western Massachusetts. To herbalists, this is akin to trademarking something as common as apple pie. When the trademark owners began leveraging their ownership, things heated up.
In recent days, this mixture of garlic, onion, horseradish and cayenne covered with apple cider vinegar has set herbalists and fans of Fire Cider® ablaze. The dialogue has been intense and the passion felt from all involved is palpable. After the initial shock wore off came the questions of, “wait, can they really do that?
Beyond the legal details and the matter at hand. I found myself observing the unfolding drama from a unique perspective.
I happened upon herbalism at a time when I needed it most, searching for anything to relieve unbearable illness my family and I couldn’t escape. It, quite literally, saved my life and that of my family. I ultimately left an executive (real world) position to focus on following this new path. In comparison to the many dedicated and passionate herbalists that I sit alongside, I started in herbalism fairly recently. It is a world and community unlike any other. Those that walked the path before you show you how plants can guide you to wellness. You become a believer when you least expect to. You find a new respect for the power of nature, the human body, and the interconnectedness of it all. I dove head first into it. Embracing the refreshing perspective like a cold glass of water on a hot summer day. It was something that I had always dreamed existed, but never thought was real. It allowed me to let go of the constant struggle of daily life and provided clarity for me to define my own true measures of success rather than what has been established for me as the modern definition.
Herbalism gave me the permission to step outside of the “real world”, to be compassionate and care for others in a way I have never been granted before. It provided me unparalleled support at every moment and the ability to return that gift to those around me. It was rejuvenating and energizing.
Suddenly, like that cold glass of water being thrown right in my face, the “fire cider” controversy arose. I was shocked to find myself an observer of the crossfire of two very different perspectives. Two cultures that are so opposite each other that there is, it seems, hardly any way for them to relate to one another.
I was reminded of the reality that much of our modern society fuels itself on. Survival of the fittest. Kill or be killed. There’s only one top dog. He who dies with the most toys wins. Why do so many of us live there? It’s cold, lonely, and uncomfortable. And it doesn’t ever get us very far. Instead of embracing compassion, collaboration and support for the good of all, many of us are mired in an unfulfilling quest for the biggest, the best, the most. The modern definition of success needs a new compass. It seems to have a tendency to lead the “real world” thinkers to a hollow victory at best. Herbalists, too, have a tradition and (as I have learned) a way of living to defend – a sense of integrity and respect that is woven into the fabric of the community. This thread is so unique, however, that it seems unable to hold any credibility in again, air quotes, the real world.
The snippets of the conversation have seemed to continually stream through my head:

“…some people are just *expletive* they didn’t get a piece of the pie. People need
to grow up!…they were the first people smart enough to get out there and trademark it!”

“Keep on keepin’ on in the face of the haters who don’t even know you.”

“Good luck dealing with the jealous social media haters.”

“I didn’t realize the herbalist community had recently been militarized. Trademarking a
brand is what smart business people do, welcome to the real world.”

“The cries of the righteous are laden with envy and regret”

It is painful to see individuals so easily judge each other. Herbalists coined as jealous haters. The folks at Fire Cider®, no doubt, had some names thrown their way. In the end, we are all human and our compassion for each other as fellow human beings could transcend all else if we allow it to. It’s up to us to make that happen. I’m hopeful. Hopeful for an opportunity to come together in a place of understanding to find a resolution that will be in the best interest of the whole. There could be a dialogue that provides understanding and mutual respect. I also know that this may just be the canary in the coal mine and the way this is handled will set a precedent for anything that may be faced in the future. Regardless, let’s do right by our tradition, herbalism is about healing (and so much more) we can all work together intentionally to heal this situation. I know that fellow herbalists can come from a place of compassion for the folks at Fire Cider® (perhaps they are reconsidering their past decisions) yet continuing the momentum of the effort, with grace and wisdom, for the love of the tradition and the community in order to ensure it is preserved for others that come after us. Let’s hope the folks at Fire Cider® are able to embrace that path, too.

See also: Making Fire Cider With Joy – A step by step recipe on how to make fire cider with your children. Complete with photos!

Feel free to share the below image. I made it to increase awareness and it is for all to use.
Please sign the petition, if you haven’t already!
Free Fire Cider

Support the cause. Make Fire Cider on February 2nd!

Support the cause. Make Fire Cider on February 2nd!

It’s ironic that the first post on this site isn’t really about herbal remedies or wellness. Although the site itself isn’t complete (my apologies if you begin poking around), this event stirred something so deep inside me that I couldn’t help but feel compelled to speak up in this moment. Thanks for listening!


Heather Bruntil is an herbalist living in the greater Boston area. Heather is committed to empowering others to take their health into their own hands. In her own healing from chronic Lyme Disease, she learned how simple and accessible tools such as herbs, food, and lifestyle changes cultivate wellness and vitality from within. Heather is committed to helping others find their way along their own path to live their most vital and empowered life. Heather is also the founder of PlantSoak, a line of handcrafted herbal wellness bath and shower soaks. www.plantsoak.com ____________ The information published on bruntil.com is for educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Some links listed within this site may be affiliate links, which support me to continue blogging. All products linked are those I would personally use.

Comments (16)
  1. Shannon     | Reply

    Can’t think of a better way to kick off a new website about your passion than a blog post filled with it. Hopefully the trademarkers will figure out a way to release the common name and devise something special in the vein of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar. Would make more sense. Great work, Heather.

  2. Simi     | Reply

    Hello Heather,
    nice piece of info with gusto! I enjoyed reading it, and riding the Fire Cider wave (have yet to find the TM key on my laptop ;) ). It was an incredible week of collaboration; amazing how people can unify when it comes to such like this. You did such a great job including the posters and I truly wish that we’ll get ‘fire cider’ back to the herbalists community. I’m looking forward to the next WWFCMD.
    Best, Simi

  3. Sonja Loyd     | Reply

    My family has used different methods like your self to heal.
    I was a bronchitis kid ,Mustard pac was the only answer for me and a Tent with a vaporizer.Now Theres “FireCider” to add to my list
    Thank You

    1. heather - Post Author     | Reply

      I haven’t yet used a mustard pack, but it have heard they can be quite effective. Let me know when you try som fire cider, I’d love to know what you think!

    1. heather - Post Author     | Reply

      Hi there! Some people do refrigerate their fire cider after straining, others do not. Many people (including myself) keep their fire cider in a dark cool cabinet for the whole cold and flu season. Not a definitive answer, I know. But I hope it helps!

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