ojas & fire cider

I remember last Winter I was out with a friend at a restaurant bar, and we were talking about how bad the flu season had been that year. It had taken down most people in town at some point, and was a particularly horrible one according to those who’d had it. I mentioned that I was so happy that I had not gotten it, nor had I gotten a flu shot.

A woman sitting next to me felt a strong impulse then to speak up about how irresponsible it was of me not to get a flu shot, saying that even tho some people still get the flu after getting the shot, it’s better than doing “nothing at all.”

Let me be very clear. I feel that the flu shot plays an important role in our world. I understand that it is the best choice for some people. I also understand why it is required of some people for their job. I, personally, choose not to get it. However, what I do instead to prevent myself from getting sick is far, far, from nothing at all.

I take this season, the one we are rapidly moving into, very seriously. I go to great lengths to stay healthy because I am an absolute baby when I get sick. However, my techniques of doing so might be different, so I thought I’d share some of them.

In  Ayurveda, our immunity and vitality is called ojas. Ojas is the end result of all of our bodily tissues being effectively nourished. Keeping a sufficient supply of ojas is vital to staying healthy. Ojas becomes depleted by a number of factors: cold/ dry weather, improper eating habits, greif, excessively active/busy lifestyle, insufficient rest, etc. When ojas becomes depleted, we may feel sluggish, icky, fatigued, depressed, and are very susceptible to getting sick.

So, in my day-to-day routine, especially in the cold months, I strive to keep my ojas in plentiful supply. I eat 3, warm, cooked meals per day, and give myself enough time to eat them mindfully and in a peaceful setting. I give myself 7-8 hours of sleep per night. I keep my skin hydrated and nourished by practicing abhyanga at least once per week. I spend time with the people I care about regularly. All of these are ojas-boosting activities, which alone can be very effective in staying healthy.

Another weapon I use against sickness is Fire Cider. Fire cider is an ancient medicinal tonic, which has been growing more and more popular again in modern times. It is a highly effective remedy for boosting the immune system and fighting off sickness. It is also a beautiful example of the power of food as medicine.

Quite simply, fire cider is a collection of highly-medicinal foods such as garlic, onion, ginger, turmeric, citrus fruit, etc soaked in raw apple cider vinegar. Recipes for fire cider vary from person to person, but those are some standards. The vinegar is then strained, bottled, perhaps with some raw honey added to it, and ingested as needed.

Taking a little bit daily can be helpful just to keep the immune system strong, particularly for those who are around lots of people everyday, passing germs around and breathing each other’s air. A larger dose, maybe a tablespoon or 2 could be taken when you know you’ve been around someone who is sick, or at the first sign of getting sick yourself. More still can be taken to speed up recovery when illness does hit.

Dosage can vary from person to person. The beauty of fire cider is it is all-natural. While you don’t want to guzzle down a whole bottle at once, there’s no need to stress over exact dosage amounts.

I make my own fire cider usually, and I also love to try ones made by other local herb shops and friends. Different recipes offer a wide range of benefits and tastes.

So, yes; wash your hands, get your throat blessed, wish upon stars, say your prayers…Do all the things you’re inclined to do to stay healthy this season. I challenge you to add some ojas-boosting and/or some fire cider into your routine this season, and see what happens!


If you are prone to chronic illness, or are simply looking for some more ways to stay healthy naturally every day, make an appointment with your Ayurvedic Health Counselor.